United Steel Workers defending Koch Brothers?!

This rates as the flying pig moment of the day. While the (doctrinaire libertarian, not conservative) Koch Brothers have become the bugbear of the left in general and of the unions in particular, Red State’s Labor Union Report reports a defense of the Georgia-Pacific owners from a very unlikely source: Jon Geenen, VP of the United Steelworkers union.

In a post entitled A Well Intentioned Bad Idea on the union’s website, Geenen points out that, among other things:

  • while he does not defend the Koch brothers’s political positions, these are hardly news, as they have been at this for 40 years (continuing the anti-Communist activism of their father who learned first-hand what Communism was like, trying to run a factory in the former Soviet Union)
  • their plants are actually highly unionized, they pay their many employees very well, and management and unions have traditionally had a very good relationship
  • they are among the few major employers in manufacturing that actually choose to create and maintain jobs in the USA rather than outsource them overseas
  • as the company is privately held and there are no stockholders to frighten, a boycott would be a pointless exercise in self-gratification at best (which, of course, I increasingly suspect to be the true essence of left-liberalism)

Go read the whole thing. Keep in mind, of course, that Geenen represents the dwindling private sector unions, and takes a position at variance with other unions that primarily represent government and quasigovernmental employees. Outside the USA as well their positions are not always in lockstep.

Blog plug: Raising Asperger’s Kids

And now for something completely different:

One of my tweeple, aspergers2mom, runs a very interesting blog about her experiences raising two sons with Asperger Syndrome. If you have children or relatives with AS, autism, ADD/ADHD, or PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified), you will find a lot of good stuff there. And if you have friends/significant others who just drive you up the wall with their geekishness, the blog may also be helpful: the line between a real serious geek and a mild AS case is quite blurry. (Like with many things psychological, the difference between a personality trait and a personality disorder — or an intellectual idiosyncrasy and a developmental disorder — is mostly a matter of degree rather than kind.)

Check out today’s post especially. Thanks so much for sharing, Elise.

Pink Floyd in Venice, “Comfortably numb”

Pending some time to blog, here is a music video from a huge open-air concert Pink Floyd played in Venice in 1989. The video was captured from a TV broadcast (which I saw at the time)

One of the songs played was the classic “Comfortably numb” (from The Wall). The sound quality of the video doesn’t do it justice, but David Gilmour’s heart-rending guitar solo starting at 4:53 literally had me in tears the first time I heard it. The song is, in a way, about being trapped in a prison of one’s own making, and Gilmour chillingly evokes precisely that. There are players with much stronger or versatile technique, but at his own game, Gilmour is in a class of his own. (Here is the solo by itself, although it really needs the song to set the mood. And here is a rare version featuring David Bowie as the guest singer.)

WordPress iPad view stinks

I am an avid iPad user (as my computers are generally taken over for work when I am near them at all) and am all for making website iPad-compatible. However, the latest trend in making sites iPad-friendly — i.e., have cutesy iPad app-like views when logging in from iPads — is one I could do without. WordPress yesterday suddenly rolled one out that clearly wasn’t all kosher — as I learned to my chagrin when trying to type long comments on the iPad, which appeared to be posted but were in fact sucked down /dev/null.

I have therefore temporarily turned on comment moderation until I have a workaround or can spend more than two minutes at a non-work computer. And to the WordPress crew: you’ve got a great product, but remember Voltaire’s saying “le meilleur est l’ennemi du bien” (perfection is the enemy of goodness). A saying that various social engineers and crusaders for cosmic justice would do well to take to heart.

Unsung hero of the week: Hideaki Akaiwa

This man’s actions would make for a nice action movie script. but they are for real. See also here (via Insty).

Akaiwa said he was at work a few miles away when the tsunami hit, and he rushed back to find his neighborhood inundated with up to 10 feet of water. Not willing to wait until the government or any international organization did, or did not, arrive to rescue his wife of two decades — whom he had met while they were surfing in a local bay — Akaiwa got hold of some scuba gear. He then hit the water, wended his way through the debris and underwater hazards and managed to reach his house, from which he dragged his wife to safety.

“The water felt very cold, dark and scary,” he recalled. “I had to swim about 200 yards to her, which was quite difficult with all the floating wreckage.”

With his mother still unaccounted for several days later, Akaiwa stewed with frustration as he watched the water recede by only a foot or two. He repeatedly searched for her at City Hall and nearby evacuation centers.

Finally, on Tuesday, he waded through neck-deep water, searching the neighborhood where she’d last been seen. He found her, he said, on the second floor of a flooded house where she’d been waiting for help for four days.

“She was very much panicked because she was trapped with all this water around,” Akaiwa said. “I didn’t know where she was. It was such a relief to find her.”


WOW: no country effectively “soaks the rich” more than… the USA?!

Tax law professor Paul Caron has some eye-opening data on his blog.

You see, high marginal personal income tax rates are one thing: but “soaking the rich” in this manner, regardless of whether or not this is moral, is a mere exercise in intellectual self-gratification unless it actually brings in more revenue. As a rule, “the rich” have much more access to (legal) tax evasion/tax exposure minimization tools and techniques than the average citizen — quite aside from the fact that an overtaxed rich person may simply decide to voluntarily reduce his income and enjoy more leisure time (“going Galt”).

A more objective measure for how much any given country “soaks the rich” or “leans on the rich” would be how great the share they contribute to total tax revenue is relative to their share of total earnings. The study quoted by Dr. Caron considers the top decile (to 10% earners), across the OECD. (Israel is not on the list as it was only just admitted to the OECD.)

On average, across the OECD, the top decile (top 10% earners) bring in 28.4% of all income, and contribute 31.6% of all tax revenue. 31.6/28.4 yields what I might call a “revenue contribution coefficient” (RCC) of 1.11, where values below 1.0 would represent a windfall to the “rich”, values above 1.0 would represent “leaning” on them, and 1.0 would be neutral.

Now admittedly, in the USA, the top decile earns 35.1% of all income (considerably higher than the OECD average), but they also contribute… 45.1% of all tax revenue. This leads to an RCC of 45.1/35.1=1.35, the very highest in the OECD. Australia (RCC=1.28) and the Netherlands (RCC=1.25) come 2nd and 3rd in the OECD, respectively, while, surprisingly, famously “high-tax” Belgium, Sweden, and Norway all have RCCs below one!

The real world is rather different from economic fantasyland.

Happy J. S. Bach Day!

Today, the first day of spring and (roughly) the vernal equinox, J. S. Bach would have been 326 if he still were alive. His body is gone, but his music lives on forever. “Bach is the beginning and end of all music” (Max Reger; more quotes about Bach here).

Bach was an avid experimenter with the musical technology of his day, and I’m sure he’d appreciate modern synthesizers. Below are two performance of one of his organ fugues (in G major, BWV 577, nicknamed “the jig” as it is in a jig/gigue rhythm): one on a conventional pipe organ, another on a battery of synthesizers.


Jerry Pournelle on Japanese nuclear disaster

I have been too busy in real life to do more than post links to my twitter feed over the last week or so, and reports from Japan about the nuclear incident following the tragic earthquake (thus far the 5th most intense in documented history) and resulting tsunami were too conflicting and sensationalist to write about. Let me however give the word to the inimitable Jerry Pournelle (on what is arguably the original weblog, now in its 666th week):

We are now down to an absolute worst case of two Tsar Bomba fallout equivalent from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Note that we are talking about fallout only: there is no danger whatever of an actual nuclear explosion. The media are breathlessly telling of a nuclear cloud approaching the United States. NPR proclaims that no nukes is good nukes. The Union of Concerned Scientists will cheerfully furnish you with as gloomy a forecast as you’d like whether you ask for their view or not.

In fact the situation is slowly coming under control. Fukushima Daiichi sits on the coast amidst a scene of almost unimaginable destruction, in freezing weather, with high winds. Every road, water pipe, and power line is gone. Debris litters the passageways to the plant. Fukushima Daiichi was protected by a 20 foot sea wall. Most of the surrounding countryside wasn’t protected by a sea wall at all.

At reactor four the fuel rods were in a spent fuel pond: the reactor was shut down in December. The pond was on the roof of the reactor building, which seemed like a good idea at the time, and could withstand an 8.0 quake, and being on the roof had a really short path from the reactor to the storage pond. All was well, until the quake cracked the pool wall. Well, that’s all right, we pump in water. Only there’s no power because the reactors scrammed at the first large tremor. That’s all right, the diesels kick in and the water pumps start up. Only now there’s a tsunami. Well, that’s all right, there’s a twenty foot sea wall. Only the tsunami is 23 feet, and maybe there has been some subsidence of the land level due to the quake. Water rushes into the complex. Back at reactor 4: the water is flowing out of the spent fuel rod pool. The rods stand on end, 14 feet tall, with about 40 feet of water in the pool. The water is flowing out. Everyone is worrying more about the three reactors which are scrammed but which still contain the fuel rods. Those rods are really hot: they are full of just created fission products, some with half lives in minutes to hours so producing a lot of heat. Over in four all the really hot stuff — fission products — has decayed out. But the water is leaking. Temperatures are going up.

At some point the water in the four tank boils furiously near the zirconium rod containers. Superhot steam plus zirconium metal produces very fast rusting. This is also known as oxidation. Rapid oxidation is often called burning. The oxygen in the water is stripped off to become zirconium oxide. That leaves hydrogen (contaminated with some tritium since we still have neutrons and beta products coming from the radioactive decay of the fission byproducts). Hydrogen gets out into the room enclosing the spent fuel pool. It mixes with oxygen from the outside. It ignites. There is an explosion that blows off the roof of the rooftop spent fuel enclosure building. Water continues to leak from the pool.

The remedy is to get water into that pool, but we still don’t have much power for pumps, nor water supply, because we are still surrounded by devastation, and we still have the problem of the reactors that have just been scrammed and are really really hot because they have recently created fission products in them.

But we can call in helicopters to drop water into the now-exposed pool.  That ought to work only there is a 20 knot wind, so not all the water dropped can get into the pool, and much goes downwind in a televisible display plume.

And there we are. The good news is that the wind is blowing the results out to sea. The bad news is that a plume hundreds of miles long develops and in that plume are detectable — not dangerous but detectable — levels of radiation, and out there away from the destruction, not hampered by the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami, are a lot of  news people desperate for a story, and —   I leave the rest as an exercise for the reader. Detectible soon becomes potentially dangerous levels, and it’s hundreds and hundreds of miles, and a Union of Concerned Scientists expert will now tell you about it all.

I can’t say that this won’t be worse than Chernobyl, but so far we have no stories whatever of anyone off the plant site injured, which makes this a TMI story, not a Chernobyl story. And that’s the way things are at Noon on Thursday as best I can tell. Here’s the headline:

Japan nuclear crisis deepens as radiation keeps crews at bay

Race is on to restart cooling systems with emergency power after dropping water on damaged reactors has little effect

To the best of my knowledge the Japanese crews are winning the race. This will end up worse than TMI because many of those in the plant will be injured, and some may be killed: I understand that some workers have voluntarily exceeded their annual badge limits and by a lot because they thought their work was critical. At TMI there were no off site injuries, and the worst to the workers was that they exceeded their badge limits and were sent away. At Daiichi there have so far been no off site injuries, but some to many of the plant workers have exceeded their badge limits. In addition six or more have mechanical injuries, some from the hydrogen explosions, one from a heart attack. Pray for them.

Indeed. Jerry puts in a well-deserved plug to the MIT Nuclear Information Hub. weblog, which is now frequently updated with lots of relevant info. Get thee over there.

And just to give some perspective on the scale of the disaster caused by the tsunami, have a look at this video sent to me by Mrs. F2. At first the combination of new agey background music and what deceptively seems like shots of a peaceful tide rolling will throw you off, but as the images zoom in the devastation is revealed for what it is, and the continuing background music creates a chilling, Lalo Shifrin-esque emotional counterpoint.


NPR director caught showing true colors in sting operation

Unbelievable. James O’Keefe’s latest sting, he set up a fake Muslim Brotherhood front group, and had somebody posing as one of its directory approach senior exec Ron Schiller of NPR (National Public Radio, a.k.a. New-class Preening Radio). Video can be seen here.

A man who appears to be a National Public Radio senior executive, Ron Schiller [no relation to CEO Vivian Schiller], has been captured on camera savaging conservatives and the Tea Party movement.

“The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian – I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move,” declared Schiller, the head of NPR’s nonprofit foundation, who last week announced his departure for the Aspen Institute.

In a new video released Tuesday morning by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who, unbeknownst to the NPR executives, are posing as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The men, who identified themselves as Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik from the fictitious Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust, met with Schiller and Liley at Café Milano, a well-known Georgetown restaurant, and explained their desire to give up to $5 million to NPR because, “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.”

On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

[…] Schiller doesn’t blink [when the interlocutor “reveals” his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood]. Instead, he assumes the role of fan. “I think what we all believe is if we don’t have Muslim voices in our schools, on the air,” Schiller says, “it’s the same thing we faced as a nation when we didn’t have female voices.”

When O’Keefe’s two associates pressed him into the topic, Schiller decried U.S. media coverage of Egypt’s uprising against former dictator Hosni Mubarak, especially talk of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence on the protests and future of Egypt. Schiller said that is what he is “most disappointed by in this country, which is that the educated, so-called elite in this country is too small a percentage of the population, so that you have this very large un-educated part of the population that carries these ideas.”

When the man pretending to be Kasaam suggests to Schiller that “Jews do kind of control the media or, I mean, certainly the Zionists and the people who have the interests in swaying media coverage toward a favorable direction of Israel,” Schiller does not rebut him or stop eating. He just nods his head slightly.

The man posing as Kasaam then joked that his friends call NPR, “National Palestinian Radio,” because, according to him, NPR is the only media outlet that covers Palestinians’ perspective. Schiller laughed.

When the ersatz Islamists declare they’re “not too upset about maybe a little bit less Jew influence of money into NPR,” Schiller responds by saying he doesn’t find “Zionist or pro-Israel” ideas at NPR, “even among funders. I mean it’s there in those who own newspapers, obviously, but no one owns NPR.”

Response in the blogosphere to Ron Schiller being caught shilling on camera, predictably, fast and furious. (H/t to Insty for most links.)

  • Roger Simon on Pajamas Media: The Protocols Of The Elders of NPR. “What this video reveals most of all is the cultural and ideological ignorance of modern liberalism.”
  • Claire Berllinski on Ricochet: The Utter, Craven Ignominy of NPR. “I cannot believe this. I can’t believe what I just read and watched.” Neither can I — if this had been a scene in a novcl I was writing I would have thrown it out as too cartoonish. ” . . . I would say I’m at a loss for words, but I’m not lost for them at all. They’re right on the tip of my tongue. I just can’t use them on Ricochet.”
  • Byron York at National Review: GOP leader amazed at ‘condescension and arrogance’ in NPR video, calls on Dems to support defunding. As one who routinely spends time among NPR types and often sees depressing displays of patronizing gentryism/elitism, I am amazed that he is even surprised.
  • NPR “Appalled” By Executive’s Comments.“I am shocked, shocked, to hear that gambling is going on in this establishment.” Or in case the revulsion is genuine, NPR should look at the “root cause” (as they are fond of lecturing us to do). In this case, the echo chamber created by New Class liberal groupthink in which ideas such as those expressed are not even exceptional.
  • UPDATE: ZOA calls upon Jews to write to their congressmen to defund NPR.
  • UPDATE: House majority leader Eric Cantor : “As we continue to identify ways to cut spending and save valuable resources, this disturbing video makes clear that taxpayer dollars should no longer be appropriated to NPR […] At a time when our government borrows 40 cents of every dollar that it spends, we must find ways to cut spending and live within our means […] This video [in which Schiller was also heard saying that NPR does not need public funding, Ed.] clearly highlights the fact that public broadcasting doesn’t need taxpayer funding to thrive, and I hope that admission will lead to a bipartisan consensus to end these unnecessary federal subsidies.”
  • UPDATE 2: Ed Driscoll weighs in, and singles out a pathetic attempt at damage control.
  • UPDATE 3: the Shiller also said he was proud of the way their token black commentator Juan Williams had been fired, which is not what NPR has been saying to the outside world. Williams himself, now enjoying a comfortable perch at “intolerant” archrival Fox News despite his conventionally liberal views, can barely contain his schadenfreude: “They prostitute themselves for money”. Tonight on Fox at 9 PM Eastern.

I will leave the last word to Roger Simon:

Is the explanation for this, as some have suggested, that they were just trying to raise funds at any cost? That journalistic trope goes pretty thin. I will suggest another explanation:[…] Lost in a delusional world of political correctness, the elders of NPR have forfeited the ability to think critically. They simply can’t see the facts anymore — or don’t care to. It’s too threatening to their limited weltanschauung. Hence, you get idiotic projections such as Schiller’s statement of how dumb Republicans are and how what America needs is more educated elites.

That they all sat there through the worst kind of anti-Semitic bilge that would make even George Soros and Pat Buchanan blush is as predictable as it is sickening.

What is needed now is not just the defunding of NPR, but also its marginalization. And one of the best ways to marginalize is through well-deserved ridicule. The authors of this video at Project Veritas are thus greatly to be praised. Yes, what they have done is a form of entrapment, but the fools who were trapped deserve it as much as any knave in a Moliere play. NPR and its clones are the true reactionaries of our time. They are no more liberal than Boss Tweed. Taking off their masks is a public service.

Sherrod Brown needs a history lesson

The latest Deemocrat [sic] with more zeal than knowledge to fall afoul of Godwin’s Law was Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who claimed that (link via Best of the Web)

You know, I look back in history, and some of the worst governments we’ve ever had–you know that one of the first things they did? They went after the trade unions. Hitler didn’t want unions, Stalin didn’t want unions, Mubarak didn’t want independent unions. These autocrats in history don’t want independent unions.

James Taranto makes some predictable word jokes about the Soviet Union, but misses the real historical point. Not only was the Comintern deeply involved in trade union activity outside the Soviet Union (including both the creation of new Communist-controlled ones and attempts at subverting existing social-democratic or Christian-democratic ones) but… the vast majority of workers in Nazi Germany were members of a trade union federation named the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front). Its leader, Robert Ley, was to be in the dock at the original Nuremberg Trial (not for his union activity, obviously, but for his complicity in the large-scale mistreatment of foreign slave labor) but committed suicide before he could stand trial.

The DAF was created as a forced merger of the Weimar-era trade union federations with the NSBO (Nazionalsocialistische Betriebszellenorganization, or National Socialist Factory Cell Organization). Theoretically, membership in the DAF was voluntary; in many sectors of the economy, it was however basically impossible to get a job without being a DAF member.

It would be too much to ask of a politician, however, to actually learn something about the history of the world’s darkest regimes  before making specious comparisons of their present-day political opponents to them.

UPDATE: After I hit “post”, I felt compelled to point out what may not be as obvious to some readers as it is to me: that the above detracts in no way from the heroism displayed by opponents of the Nazi regime (such as July 20 co-conspirator Wilhelm Leuschner) who happened to be (pre-DAF, later underground) trade union activists.

Are unions evil? No, just obsolete

The absolutely despicable behavior displayed by the pro-union thugs in Wisconsin (check out the Althouse-Meade team’s citizen journalism straight from Madison) has turned out to be everything the make-believe media claimedf the Tea Party was. It may be seductive to some on the right to think that unions are evil, and one could be forgiven for thinking the WI public sector unions were following the book by Draco Carnegie (Dale Carnegie’s evil twin): “How to lose friends and alienate people”.

Unlike some conservatives, I do not harbor starry-eyed illusions that bosses never exploit workers, and that workers never need represesntation or protection. This is not because of any residual liberal convictions but because — like any good conservative — I realize entrepreneurs are humans too and no human flaws will be alien to them.

Once upon a time, unions did a lot of good in remedying intolerable working conditions. However, when the “sweatshops” and slave-labor mines of old fell before the twin onslaught of worker activism and technological progress (many “progressives” are incapable of admitting that technological progress has done more to empower non-privileged individuals than all social engineering schemes ever devised together), the unions saw themselves faced with the need to either reinvent themselves or fade away.

Sometimes, as discussed in this golden oldie by Steven den Beste, an organization that outlives the problem it is meant to address will successfully reinvent itself. Far more commonly, the organization will artificially seek to perpetuate a problem in order to justify its continued existence and expansion, or try to inflate residual isolated problems into grand societal challenges . The UNRWA is a tragic example; an organization like SPLC a merely farcical one.

Robert Samuelson has a must-read article in the Washington Post today. Get thee over there, but let me share with you some data from the article that really floored me.

How much of the workforce do unions represent? Turns out, just 11.9% nationwide. In the private sector, thiis drops to just 6.9% (!), while in the public sector, 36.2% of workers is unionized. (These numbers, actually, imply that 17.1% of the American workforce works in the public sector.)

In other words, as Samuelson argues, unions are becoming largely irrelevant in the private sector, and are essentially becoming a public-sector phenomenon. Which is why attempts to curtail their influence in their last remaining bulwark are (correctly) perceived by union leadership as an existential threat.

Moreover, Simon at Power and Control (crosspost at Classical Values) points to data suggesting that the unions are in dire financial shape.  They “went for broke” in supporting 0bama, in the hope that he would oversee either a massive expansion of the governmental workforce, or introduce union-friendly “card check” legislation restoring their power base in the private sector, or both.

Ironically, Federal government employees (as distinct from state and local ones) have greatly curtailed collective bargaining rights:

While labor unions that represent federal workers do have some collective bargaining rights, provisions in the Civil Service Reform Act passed under President Carter in 1978 restrict federal employees from using it for pay or pensions and federal workers cannot be forced into a union or required to pay dues.

Pournelle’s Iron Law states that any bureaucratic organization will eventually become dominated by people that work not for its stated ends, but for the organization for its own sake and for the sake of their own private bureaucratic empires. Precisely this is what happened to unions in the USA.

Using the Oscars to rewrite the history of the subprime crisis

Zombie writes at length on this year’s Oscar winner for best documentary:

Whenever I visit Berkeley — in particular certain upscale areas populated by academics and wealthy intellectuals — practically everyone I see has this creepy look on his or her face. […] In an instant, the Berkeley expression communicates to everyone in the vicinity, “Isn’t it great that you and I and all of us here are morally superior to the rest of the world?” […]

Charles Ferguson’s[…]  winning documentary was called Inside Job, which traces the history of the financial meltdown of 2008, and places the blame entirely on greedy Wall Street insiders who scammed the world out of trillions of dollars. Every year, the Academy voters feel compelled to make some kind of political statement with an Oscar, and this year they chose Inside Job as their statement. Predictable.

I had pretty much already forgotten about the Oscars when I opened my morning paper yesterday to discover an explanation for Charles Ferguson’s instantly identifiable facial expression — he really is from Berkeley!

At first I simply found it amusing that one can pinpoint someone’s hometown simply by their smug expression — just as Sherlock Holmes could identify the village you came from by the color of the mud splatters on your trouser cuffs — but as I continued to read the article, my mood took a decidedly political turn when I encountered this passage:

Robert Gnaizda, former president of Berkeley’s Greenlining Institute, says some of the responsibility lies with the current White House.

“There’s an unwillingness by the Obama administration to effectively criticize ‘too big to fail’ institutions,” said Gnaizda, who is featured in the documentary vainly warning successive Federal Reserve Board chairmen about the kind of doomed-to-fail loans Countrywide Financial and others were making.

Whoa whoa whoa — stop right there. Am I reading this correctly? The head of the Greenlining Institute is in the film warning against subprime loans???

As it happens, Zombie had written an essay in September 2008 on the role that the Greenlining Institute (which really ought to be called the “redlining institute”) had in creating the subprime crisis:

This short post not only posits the exact opposite theory than does Inside Job, but it actually points the finger of blame at Robert Gnaizda’s Greenlining Institute as the ultimate cause of the problem, rather than as the heroes who tried to prevent the crisis.I know I’m tilting at windmills here: the budget of my original post was exactly $0, and I’m up against an Academy-Award-winning film with a production budget of $2 million and which took over two years to complete. Furthermore, the narrative pushed by the film is the narrative favored and relentlessly affirmed by almost the entire media and all of academia, and it is therefore the narrative that the general public has come to accept.

But upon re-reading my own post (which even I had half-forgotten about), I was amazed at how still current it remains, and how the points I made two and half years ago seem to have had been written to specifically rebut the thesis of Inside Job, a film which hadn’t even been made yet.

Rather than paraphrase my earlier essay, I’ll just quote part of it here and let you judge for yourself:

…The Greenlining Institute existed solely to bully banks and financial institutions into giving loans to otherwise unqualified minority borrowers.

There’s been a lot of finger-pointing on all sides about this financial crisis, but much of it misses the point. The off-topic details about CEO salaries and bond markets and mergers and bailouts and who voted for what all chase the horse after it’s already left the barn. The key question is this:

Once upon a time, banks only loaned money to individuals who could qualify for a home mortgage; and then sometime recently, they changed their practices and started loaning money to a lot of people who didn’t qualify and could not afford to pay back the loans. And when they started defaulting, and when real estate values starting dropping, the entire industry collapsed, because there was no equity to pay back the loans. The banks lost money, the customers lost money, and it all went down the toilet. Which, of course, many people had predicted. So the question is: Why? Why did banks start making countless risky untenable loans to unqualified customers?

And the answer is: Because they were afraid of being called racists by the legal bullies at the Greenlining Institute and other similar “community organizers.”

It all started with The Community Reinvestment Act, a federal law originally passed during the Carter administration and then ramped up during the Clinton years, that was originally designed to prevent racist lending practices by banks who wouldn’t loan money to minorities, even if they were qualified. Which was a fine idea. But over time the law was twisted to force banks to make loans to minorities even if they weren’t qualified — which all may sound very peachy keen in Fantasy Utopia Land but which inevitably spells long-term financial suicide for a bank.

The Greenlining Institute’s self-appointed role is to identify those banks which by Greenlining’s reckoning haven’t doled out enough money to underqualified minority borrowers, and then threaten them with lawsuits, protests, and accusations of institutional racism if the banks don’t start opening their wallets ASAP. And the banks caved. Greenlining brags that they have unparalleled access to banking boardrooms, and they successfully squeezed $2.4 trillion (yes, trillion) in “CRA commitments” (i.e. loans to unqualified borrowers) out of terrified banks. Nearly every bank and financial institution you’ve ever heard of seems to kowtow to Greenlining.

[…G]roups like the Greenlining Institute saw the banks as potential agents of economic restructuring: If banks could be forced to grant homeownership to poor people, then that would be the first step for the lower classes to climb out of poverty, since everyone knows that owning one’s own home instills a sense of pride, self-worth, and self-reliance.And so, using the bullying tactics described above (and in the original article which first inspired my post), the Greenlining Institute (and similar groups) twisted the banks’ arms to make risky loans, for the purpose of “social justice,” to use the activists’ own terminology.

A then-young community organizer named Barack Hussein 0bama also features in the narrative.

Forced into this situation, the banks then went to great lengths to disguise the risk they had foolishly assumed; to fob the bad loans off on unsuspecting other investors, they devised convoluted financial instruments that obscured the danger of the investments; and so on.

At this point, the sorry mess developed a momentum of its own, as subprime mortgages became available to everybody (not just the targeted group) and house-flipping became a national hobby. Read the whole thing. And weep.  In related news,

The unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already exceed $106 trillion. That’s well over $300,000 for every man, woman and child in America (and exceeds the combined value of every U.S. bank account, stock certificate, building and piece of personal or public property).

A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind“.

Incidentally, one of the contenders “Inside Job” beat out was “Waiting for Superman” about the dysfunctional public education system. It was made by the director of “An Inconvenient Truth” but, unlike the crockumentary of that name, actually tells exactly that.  The moviemaker set out to document everything every liberal likes to believe about public schools, found the reality rather… different, and, surprisingly, had the guts to kick against some left-wing houses of the holy. (Education, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, is one cause in which some New Class liberals believe sufficiently strongly that they sometimes find themselves on the same side as conservatives.) Of course, the bien-pensant Anointed “cannot have that”…