American Elephants

Fun Fall Freebies by American Elephant
November 21, 2010, 3:43 pm
Filed under: Cool Site of the Day, Fun n Games, Music | Tags: , , , ,

With autumn quickly giving way to winter, I headed out into the crisp cool air to clean up the last vestiges (fingers crossed) of fall leaves today — particularly from the roof — which leaves me feeling fallish (ba domp bomp!).

Sometimes, living in Seattle, we don’t always have the most distinct change of seasons. We usually have a nice, sunny, warm summer followed by nine months of different gradations of wet, drizzly gray in between. Other years, thankfully, the seasons are more pronounced. This looks to be one of those years. I was shocked to look at the weather gadget on my desktop to find that we may actually get our first snow tomorrow (the reason for the roof cleaning.) But because the seasons are not always as distinct as I would have them here in the drizzly dank Pacific Northwest, I look to other sources for my seasonal fix.

And before fall fleets away, I thought I’d share the fun fall freebies I’ve found on the web to help bring the season indoors. More after the jump…

The Great Depression of 1920 by The Elephant's Child

You have heard of the Great Depression, and undoubtedly the varying stories about it.  To Democrats, it is a story of the heroism and wisdom of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who saved us from catastrophe or maybe World War II when FDR was such a hero actually saved us, and it was all Herbert Hoover’s fault.

Republicans, on the other hand, say that the Great Depression was made far worse by Roosevelt’s experimentation and statist ideas, and though the war provided jobs, the Depression wasn’t really over until several years after the end of the war when consumer demand and consumer products returned to the marketplace.

But have you ever heard of the Great Depression of 1920?  And do you know what our experience was then and what lessons we should take from that?

Take Over a Private Company, Strongarm Bondholders, Wipe Out Shareholders, Tear Up Legal Contracts and Declare it a Success Story! by The Elephant's Child

David Harsanyi of the Denver Post had a great line: “Oh, good, the Obama administration has another imaginary victory for taxpayers to celebrate.”

President Obama said:  “Today, one of the toughest tales of the recession took another big step towards becoming a success story.”  He didn’t actually claim that it was, but he laid it on pretty thick.  And his echo chamber in the media proclaimed “success story, success story,” to be sure that you got the message.

They held an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of General Motors stock, at a price of $33 per share. If the Obama Administration keeps selling it at that price, Taxpayers will lose about $10 billion on the deal, and that does not include the loans GM still owes, cash for clunkers, the Chevy Volt subsidies, and all the millions of unseen costs this intervention inflicted on the economy.

Something Democrats don’t seem to grasp, is the extent to which uncertainty is a drag on the economy.  And the biggest dose of uncertainty came when the United States government seized General Motors, stiffed the bondholders, gave an enormous chunk of the company to the unions, and damaged every supplier GM had.  GM’s car dealers, independent businessmen whose purchased vehicles from GM to sell on their lots, were arbitrarily shut down and put out of business.  $80 billion of liabilities was swept away in Chapter 11, including $27 billion in bond debt. Any businessman in the country, looking at what the Obama Administration did to General Motors, knows what uncertainty means.  Who’s next?

“Success” means whatever you want it to mean, I guess.  General Motors still owes the government something like $43 billion, not counting the $15 billion it borrowed to fund its financial arm.  The stock price would have to double to make us whole.  The IPO was exempted from state and federal anti-fraud laws to make sure that things were fair. The big winners were the United Autoworkers, who may get their pensions after all.

As David Harsanyi said, “if things get tough, we can rely on Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to trump up safety concerns regarding Toyota or Honda to correct the problem.” Harsanyi added:

And let’s not forget that success is predicated on this president’s strong-arming bondholders and essentially wiping out shareholders of a private company — tearing up legal contracts rather than allowing a traditional bankruptcy. Success means shielding benefits of United Auto Workers as a reward for helping make cars that are less efficient and more expensive.

At the time, George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki wrote that by “stepping over the bright line between the rule of law and the arbitrary behavior,” the president “may have created a thousand new failing businesses.”

So the media can trumpet the “success” of the General Motors IPO, but a lot of businessmen are looking at the treatment of property rights, the casual ignoring of the rule of law,  Administration firing of the GM CEO.  Ford has $65 billion more in debt than GM, but it has the vast advantage of not having the government for a shareholder.

And don’t forget that to insure GM’s “success” in the future, Obama has ordered them to produce the unwanted Volt, and the EPA has issued new CAFE standards, raised the amount of ethanol  in each gallon of gas, and applied CAFE standards to the nation’s trucks.

Now why would any business sit on their cash, be reluctant to hire or expand, or express uncertainty about the economy or their own future?

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