Jeff Neal for C.U.R.E. - Certain Unalienable Rights Endowment

Posts Tagged ‘free market’

I’ll personally pay back the National Debt

In Financial, Opinion on January 26, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 6.37.57 PMWith patriotic hearts, a friend and I have a deal for America. We are going out on a limb – we’re going to offer a solution to the country’s national debt problem, a problem estimated at approximately $18 trillion. We are going to deliver personal checks to the US Treasury in amounts that will total $18 trillion (we’re still negotiating the allocation between the two of us).

First: You’re welcome – glad we could help.

Second: We know what you’re thinking; “Guys, no way you have 18 trillion dollars. Maybe 2 or 3 trillion, but 18!?!?  Get real.” Well, we know that, and we also know that neither does the US Government have 14 trillion dollars. That’s why they OWE it, that’s why the nation is in debt by that amount. It’s not there, their check would bounce, just like ours would; so what’s the difference between the government’s check and ours?

Just one thing . . .  see, we’re math guys, and mathematically we have a chance of making our check good; the government . . . well, read on.

So let’s do a little math; it’s a little complicated, so read slowly. The two of us think we can create, say, $5.0 million of wealth every year, and we will commit all of that wealth to reduction of the national debt – that’s a 100% tax rate on our income, and we won’t even ask for any interest. In about 4.7 million years, give or take a few millennia, we’ll be old and tired, but we’ll have it paid off.

Alternatively (and now we need you to really concentrate – this will sound foreign at first) we can let the government pay it off, no help from us; we’ll keep our trillions. At its current rate of wealth creation, the US Government will pay back this debt in – more math, divide by n+1, carry the 3, and we get . . . .  NEVER. They’ll never pay it back, not one red Lincoln penny of it.

You see, your government – including the Congress, the White House, all of the executive agencies – creates exactly $0 in wealth each and every year. Government consumes money and it has the power to pay bills only by TAKING wealth from its citizens, the free men and women who create it.

That brings us to our more serious point, which we think is made clearer by the hypothetical offer above.

Unless paired with less spending, there is no such thing as a tax cut; there are only tax-deferrals. Every dollar of spending represents a tax and OUR COUNTRY IS taxed each year the amount which the government spends. How much we’ll pay now and how much we’ll pay later is decided by a government that arbitrarily sets tax rates and writes convoluted rules that sound “fair.” Every dollar the government spends must be matched by a dollar of taxation – either today or tomorrow or in 30 years, when our children should instead be toiling and sweating to pay for their own current consumption rather than paying back our debts. Any “tax-cut” for the middle class, for the billionaires, and for small business owners was no such thing. It is a deferred tax increase for you and your children.

Cutting spending – entitlements, discrerionary – all of it, is the only answer. Let free men and women dispose of their money without government incentives and direction.  536 people in Washington, DC are not smarter than 320 million Americans.

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Jack Nicholson, The Reverend Mr. Al Sharpton and Candy

In Financial, Opinion on December 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

On CafeHayek.com, Professor Don Boudreaux, tells us (Link Here) that the reverend Mr. Al Sharpton is raising a stink (yes, I realize that has a potentially double meaning and is redundant – as in, what else does he do?) regarding Walgreens’ failure to adequately serve poor neighborhoods.

Why does he stipulate that Walgreens is obligated to serve any customers?  They are free to put all of their stores on Park Avenue, if they like, yes?  Are there any Tiffany’s in the poor neighborhoods Mr. Sharpton is worried about, or any check cashing, pay-day loan operations Rodeo Drive?  What would Charlie Sheen do in a cash emergency and why isn’t someone looking out for him?

I frame it more seriously this way:  Walgreens’ total market capitalization of approximately $35 billion did not materialize from thin air, reverend Mr. Sharpton.  As the Professor Boudreaux points out via his list of things Walgreens chose to do to make pills and suppositories appear behind their counter (just next to $3.49 ethnic hair products, $1.59 paper towels and $1.29 candy bars, etc.) this kind of operation is the result of billions of independent, unique, untraceable decisions about the most effective uses of capital and labor.  That unimaginably complex process has resulted in a situation where, for $1.29 you get a Milky Way AND, implicit therein, you get the benefit of the trillions of dollars it took to deliver it there between the M&Ms and the Snickers.

HUH? you say, trillions?  Yes, trillions.  Add Walgreens market cap to that of Mars Candy, Pfizer, Merck (and every other company who has a product on offer in that store) and it’s AT LEAST multi-trillions of dollars.  The owners of Mars Candy, Inc can’t deploy only the miniscule fraction of their world-wide enterprise that made YOUR Milky Way, even though you are paying only for your tiny share of Mars Candy.  And the same goes for the companies offering the products you didn’t even purchase, because it is the unique combination of products services, and multiple locations that is the essence of Walgreens, the magic that makes Walgreens exist.  That’s the beauty of Walgreens (and 7-11, Kroger, Victoria’s Secret, Federal Express and  . . .)

When will you learn, reverend Mr. Sharpton, that stuff doesn’t happen because you have a camera and a microphone; stuff happens because, to paraphrase Milton Friedman, millions and millions of men and women, almost all of whom don’t even know of the existence of the rest, and many of whom would hate each other if they ever met face-to-face, in their own way, free of coercion, contributed to that Milky Way’s being there.  And it was there for you last Wednesday at 2:43 a.m., exactly when you wanted it there – for a mere $1.29.  And the cold pint of milk tasted great with it, too, didn’t it!

And, now you want the government to fine tune and improve on that model for you without disturbing its intricate and delicate balance?!  NO SIR!  Step away from the counter and put your hands in the air.

To borrow from A Few Good Men “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “Thank you,” and went on your way.  Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.”

Freedom, Milky Ways . . . same thing.  Mr. Sharpton, Walgreens doesn’t have time to explain how they put your Milky Way on that shelf.  They’d rather you just pay the $1.29, say ‘Thank You’ and go back on TV.  Otherwise, I suggest you go find a trillion dollars and make your own candy.

Freedom promises that you have the choice to buy your widgets or pharmaceuticals anywhere you like.  Freedom does not promise you that Walgreens will make them available to you, 24/7, at a price you can afford.

Let’s prevent crime by making up some new laws. Sure, that’s the answer. NOT.

In Economics, Financial, Opinion on December 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm

In the Washington Post of December 6 (Link HERE) Katrina vanden Heuzel joins the chorus of pundits who:

(1) falsely accuse bankers, hedge fund managers and others of crimes,

(2) long for the days before “irresponsible de-regulation” (99% of them mention Glass-Steagal, the repeal of which I find very difficult to blame for the housing bubble or its collapse, but, HEY it sounds smart to mention a law by name),

(3) fail to mention one specific law or regulation the continuation or re-inactment of which would have or will prevent the next “crisis,”

(4) criticize GW Bush and everyone in his administration for using “tax-payer money to bail out” the banks,

(5) suggest that the solution to preventing more bad government decisions is (a) the enactment of a new and different set of laws and regulations that look nothing like the ones that were repealed, and (b) vesting unelected government officials with more power via those new laws and regulations.

Really?  The answer to the government over-stepping its bounds, having and mis-using too much power is  . . . give it ever more “regulatory” power to make banks and other institutions beg for permission before they do this or that?

I suppose that we’re meant to assume that the next Secretary of the Treasury will be more a pure-hearted, more honest man who will not have any friends or former colleagues in the hedge fund business (and will not have anyone on his staff who does).  That way, when one of those all-seeing, all-powerful, clairvoyant regulators spots “systemic risk” or some other such deviation from acceptable behavior that Dodd-Frank purports to have outlawed, no one will get a secret meeting or phone call.  We’re going to outlaw cronyism, damn it, because we’ll keep people with friends and acquaintances in high places from ever occupying an office of power – that’ll work!

Presto!  Outlaw breaking all the new laws and you’ve got perfection!  I’ve got another idea – let’s pass a new law that says murder is really, really bad; so bad that we’re going to start anticipating it (yeah, like in Minority Report with Tom Cruise) and that will have a huge effect on the number of murders, right?  That’s exactly what Dodd-Frank purports to do – the newly empowered regulators will have perfect vision into the future and will prevent any more icky stuff from happening.

Grow up Ms. vandan Heuvel.  If you know of crimes committed by bankers or hedge fund managers, report them immediately to the proper authorities so they can prosecute them under the laws as they existed pre-Dodd-Frank.  If you know not of any such illegalities, I beg you to stop implying that criminals are running free in the streets of mid-town Manhattan with the blessing of the Republican party.

And, with regard to your desire to prevent all the future bad deeds, I suggest that for one to think that the government can “regulate” out of the system all bad risk and the concomitant potential for failures and losses is naive; . . . no it’s dumb and evil.  The only way to accomplish such immunity from loss would be a complete take-over and shut-down of the financial markets – is that what you want?

It boggles the mind to contemplate the conceit necessary for one to believe that the government can imagine, predict, categorize and outlaw only the ‘bad’ versions of the innumerable ways capital is directed to productive uses.  Furthermore, beyond preventing fraud and theft, why should the government decide what is good or bad?

Bottom line:  What is the ideal regulatory regime for the capital markets?

Two laws:

1.  No Fraud – Check.

2.  No theft – Check.

And, since the state has the exclusive power to compel a party to honor any contract it enters of its own volition, the state must exercise that power (a) as necessary and (b) without regard to what the enforcer thinks the ‘fair’ outcome of the business transaction should have been.

Any other laws will give protection or otherwise give preference to one party over another, and the (unconstitutional) power to pass such preferential laws will lead to perversion and abuse of the law.  (See Frederic Bastiat, The Law  See in particular, the chapter Property and Plunder.)

Don’t change plunderers.  Stop the plundering.

Am I ‘Anti-government’?

In Opinion, Political Critique on November 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm

A standard line from the Democratic Party these days involves some version of “the right/GOP hates government and wants to eliminate all taxes, so government would possess no power.”

Sort of.

Or, actually, not at all.  The right and the GOP better correct that lie, and soon.

How?  It’s my belief that Americans are relatively indifferent about the effectiveness of ‘good’ government.  However, we are passionate about the power, the compassion and the productiveness of free men and women.

In my world, all of the left and the collectivists are free to try it their way – but they should not try and, under our Constitution, do not have the power to impose their approach on me.  I believe and history proves that freedom beats coercion every time, no matter how ‘good’ some coerced behavior might seem to be.

I say – Let me and those who agree live or die based upon the outcome.  I will bet my life on it.  Will Barack Obama or Harry Reid do the same if I take away their power (via confiscation of my income to finance their welfare state) to force me to agree with them?  I doubt it.

We can do better, America, but only if we’re free and government is smaller.

Watching Dominoes Fall or Leading From Behind

In foreign policy, Opinion, Political Critique on October 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

Our president is being praised for [watching the] toppling of the erstwhile dictator of Libya.  Much of the praise seems to be based on a mistaken comparison between the cost of our ‘mission’ in Libya and the cost of our 9-year involvement in Iraq.

So, although he hasn’t landed a fighter jet on the deck of a Navy carrier, President Obama is right to announce “Mission Accomplished” in Libya.  Really?

I must have missed it: since Libya’s mad man was slaughtered by a mob in the streets, there have been elections of a legislating body and a president, the adoption of a constitution, a dismantling of the dictator’s security apparatus, establishment of a new police force, the rebuilding of a substantial portion of Libya’s infrastructure, and the formation, equipping and training of a new police force?  WOW!  That’s a busy few days.  I’m sure we’ve confirmed there will never be any kind of insurgency or other unrest in Libya.

Two points:

First, whatever mission the United States had, has or should have had in Libya is in its infancy.  That desert region is comprised of tribes and multiple power-seeking factions and barely meets the definition of a ‘country’ and is years away from being in a state where its citizens could be said to be living in a nation based on the universal principles of freedom of the individual.

Second, as we celebrate the continuing progress in what has been dubbed the “Arab Spring” we  should reflect on how unimaginable any of these events would have seemed before George W. Bush said “you’re either with us, or you’re against us.”  Those simple but critical words (like a similarly mundane phrase – “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”) marked the beginning of what has been called the Bush Doctrine and should be as well-known as Mr. Reagan’s words.  They encapsulate the idea that America’s interests and America’s principles can be pursued simultaneously by spreading freedom across the globe and, thereby, minimizing potential threats from the likes of Usama bin Laden which 9/11 taught us were not prevented by geography.

It is to America’s detriment that the current occupant of the White House and so many of our policy-makers are so unaware of and/or ungrateful for the accomplishments of those who preceded them.  This premature celebration of Qadaffi’s murder as a “foreign policy victory” for the current administration is sign of immaturity and self-serving partisanship.  The dominoes would not be falling had the first one not been forcibly tipped over.  It’s much easier to watch dominoes fall than to have the nerve to push the first, biggest one over.

Do we live in a free country?

In Opinion, Political Critique on October 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Many Republicans believe that Mitt Romney is ‘good enough’ and that at least he’s not Obama and he’ll steer us clear of more of his disastrous policies.  The GOP and we conservatives had similar thoughts about George W Bush in 2000.  His conservative convictions were deeper than are Mr. Romney’s, yet even Dubya could not defeat the monster that is devouring our nation.  That monster can’t be tamed, it must be caged – that was, as I see it, the primary objective of our founders in drafting the Constitution – to restrain the powers granted to a federal government, to keep it subordinate to the sovereignty of the individual.

No serious surveyor of what is now referred to as the ‘US government’ can conclude that it is the product of the US Constitution, properly administered.  Rather, it is clearly the product of its occupants.  For starters, if a government is to be the subject of its people, for it to govern and not rule, it must be chosen by a process that is independent of itself, no?  For evidence that is not the case, one need only peruse the Federal Election Commission’s rules and regulations that dictate how a person can mount a campaign for federal office.

The entire FEC rule book is, essentially, a non-compete agreement that, by severely restricting the financing activities of any nascent political ‘party,’ grants the Democratic and Republican parties a monopoly on political activity.  The parties’ sole purpose is to elect government officials from among their inside-crowd membership.  From such an anti-constitutional starting point, there is no hope that the resulting ‘government’ will find itself bound by the Constitution.  Consequently, we are stuck with an over-weening, omni-present, omnipotent monster that is controlled by the political class and that feeds and empowers itself by dispensing favors to powerful interests – when a people gives a government more power, it will use it to perpetuate itself and it’s enablers; there can be and has never been any other outcome.  It follows that moneyed interests will buy protection from that power, and the two (power and money) are increasingly concentrated in a smaller and smaller cadre – exactly the outcome our founding fathers meant to prevent.

The “Romney-wing” of the GOP is no different from the McCain- or Dole- or Ford- or Rockefeller- wings were.  They all exist for the perpetuation of government power.  Most of its inhabitants are men/women who would last not one week outside of the cocoon they have created for themselves in Washington, DC.  Just look at Rep. Paul Ryan – his supposedly “radical” reform budget proposed spending ONLY $3.5 Trillion, as opposed to that spendthrift Obama/Reid budget which would total $3.6 Trillion.  Really, $100 billion, a whopping 2.7% difference is the GOP’s attempt at radical reform?  That won’t help our country survive.  It will merely delay the inevitable a couple weeks or so.

I wish I could share the more sanguine point of view of the Romney supporters.  I’m in the prime of my life; I’m hungry for freedom – freedom for me and, as importantly, for every man who therewith will make his life better and, while he’s at it, make MY and my 2 sons’ world better.  I don’t think any grant-giving or loan-guaranteeing government bureaucrat (Dem or Rep) would have ‘found’ Steve Jobs in 1975 and had the foresight to tell him “here’s $538,000,000 [see Solyndra]; now go be creative and change the world.”  He had to be free to take risks, along with the millions of others who succeed and fail day after day.  Each step we take, every tax dollar confiscated along the government path makes someone less free.  ZERO government is, of course, not the answer, but there has to be a limit, and it seems clear to me that the political class stepped over that line some many years ago.

Is there a level of spending between $3.6 trillion and $0 that is acceptable?   Is our government too small or too big.  In the language that most people use the word big to describe the government they mean to describe a government that commandeers >25% of the economic output of the country pursuant to a 70,000 page tax-code, a legal code that exceeds 200,000 pages and rules and regulations that consume millions of pages.  Big is an entity that commandeers $3.6 trillions dollars from the private sector and spends it the way 536 men and women want it spent.

That’s not a free country.  We need radical change, and Mr. Romney will not deliver anything of the sort.

Reset Button – Break the Glass

In Economics, Opinion on July 1, 2011 at 12:16 pm

We can only keep the promise by breaking it.

A good friend had a moment of brilliance a couple days ago. Terminate Medicare and Social Security.  No cuts.  No new formulae.  No delayed increases.  End them, PERIOD.

For a moment, forget the political feasibility. Think about it.

The country has incurred debts it can’t repay.  Our balance sheet, as it were, can’t be fixed short of a tectonic shift in our thinking. The estimated net worth of all of the households and businesses in America is estimated at between $60 and $75 trillion. Our total unfunded liabilities (i.e. the future cost of all promises made by the US Government under Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) is approximated at $114 trillion.  TILT!

Now, go back now to political feasibility: what’s the likelihood that the men and women of this country will stand by and let our government TAKE all of our wealth and give it to itself to pay for those promises? Not bloody likely, eh?! But that’s what we’re letting them do, all day and every day.

Social Security and Meidcare are inaccurately described as an insurance program – funds we pay into in exchange for a promise of future payments to support us in retirement. They are more accurately described as a Ponzi Schemes. You pay retirees’ benefits now, future workers will pay for yours later. Only the math doesn’t work.

So, eliminate the programs and, drum roll . . . the resultant creation of wealth will fulfill the promises. The stock market will soar. Commodities’ prices will decline. The US Dollar will rise in value against all other currencies.  The wealth produced will dwarf the liability of the ‘broken promises’ because we will have freed ourselves to keep those promises.

See, we owe all that money to ourselves, right? Asked that way, the question sounds a little different. We made those promises to ourselves. This approach suggests that we let ourselves pay ourselves back instead of relying on the anti-productive government machine to do so. We’re the unsecured creditors in the US Government bankruptcy. But we’re also the shareholders (to stretch the metaphor) – we own the place (the country, not the government) AND we are the assets that have been pledged to fulfill the promises. Let’s foreclose and take the assets back.  Let’s let ourselves off the government hook so we can go back to producing wealth.

It will cause some dislocation and serious discontent, of course. But those are manageable and safety-nets raised by newly-freed men and women of America will care for the elderly and the sick who are temporarily displaced – we always have. On the other hand, the inevitable catastrophe we face  as a result of politicians’ constant tinkering with the cancer, repeatedly moving the tumor from one part of the corpus to the other, is not manageable. It’s deadly.

Let’s keep the promise. There is no choice.

Pink Ribbons, Health Care and Money

In Economics, Financial, Health Care Reform, Opinion on April 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Who can argue with wanting the most affordable, high-quality health care for the most people? An abundant supply of a good thing is a desire that is unassailable by any one who wants to be a welcome participant in the public discourse. So, our challenge is to discover the best means of maximizing the supply of the unarguably good thing, right? Read the rest of this entry »

Thank Goodness for Child Labor

In Economics, Everyday Life, Financial, Opinion on March 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm

IT’S CAPITALISM, STUPID, NOT CAPITOLISM

OR

A PERSONAL STORY ABOUT CHILD LABOR

Child Labor – we only outlawed it because we could, because capitalism improved productivity enough that we could let the kids go to school instead of making a living for their families.  It’s not like mom and dad were sitting at home living off their kids’ wages.  Everyone was working and conditions sucked.

The employers of those pitiful kids were driven by the profit motive.  That term is better stated as one’s desire to own the fruits of one’s labor and to have the freedom and the ability to dispose of that fruit as one sees fit.  That one word – Freedom – is the key.  If you try to eliminate the profit-motive, you are eliminating freedom, simple as that.

The profit motive, freedom, is the reason – and the only reason – we were able to write “child-labor” laws and let the kids spend the first 18-22 years of their lives being sponges instead of having to earn their way.

Can it really be true that it was a businessman’s “greed” and evil that made him hire children for $.10 per hour (or whatever it was) instead of hiring his mother or father for $5.00 to toil in his factory?  It was a necessity, it was the only way he could make a profit, and without a profit, the job wouldn’t have existed, the child and his family would starve.  Without the potential to make money, the businessman could not have borrowed or otherwise raised the money it took to build the factory to begin with.  It had to start somewhere.

Were there examples of “evil” and crooked businessmen who abused their power over a small portion of the labor force?  Of course there were.  But, be serious – if that practice were as widespread as we’re often led to believe, where were all the complicit, cruel parents, and why did they sit idly by?  The kids were working because the family needed them to, don’t you think?  If the vast majority of the businesses that employed child labor were the monsters we often see portrayed, and the families didn’t really need the extra money, wouldn’t the parents have let their kids stay home or at least do the work themselves?  The jobs were low-skill, low-pay jobs that enabled the factory owner to keep the factory open – and open the next one and the next one, increasing productivity and replacing, eventually, the kids with machines.  God bless those factory owners who fed families – including his own, by the way – while building a world in which the next generation of kids could spend their youth contemplating and protesting the evils of child labor, instead of shoveling manure out of the family barn.

Do you really think, for example, that a small businessman, a family farmer in Davenport, Iowa in 1905 worked his whole family from dawn ‘til dusk because he hated his only son, Frank E. Neal, Sr., or because he wanted to, God forbid, make a profit off of his own child?  No, we know he did it that way, because otherwise the family wouldn’t have had enough to eat – Frank, Sr. would have starved.

Because he didn’t starve, and since we live in a free country where innovation is driven by the profit motive, that farmer’s son later moved to Tennessee, became a letter carrier for the US Postal Service and sent his third son to Isaac Litton High School in Nashville.  That son then attended an insurance company’s training program, sold property and casualty insurance for several local and national agencies, and raised six children, four of whom make their living working for the independent insurance agency he founded in 1975.

Which of those two men – the farmer in Davenport or the businessman in Nashville – is an ogre, using the labor of his children to line his own pockets.  Neither.  My father, Frank E. Neal, Jr., is the same man as his grandfather and his father – just standing on their shoulders.  I’m grateful that my great-grandfather pushed my grandfather out of bed every morning to milk the cows and tend the crops.  If that’s abusing child labor, I’m all for abusing child labor.

Glenn Beck and Finance

In Financial, Opinion, Regulation on March 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

Mr. Beck,

You contributed to the downfall of America on March 1 by perpetuating a couple of myths.

First, oil speculators CAN NOT force the price of oil up.  In every futures contract, there is a ‘long’ side and a ‘short’ side.  For a speculator to make money on the way up, someone has to lose money; for there to be a gain on the UP position, some third party will have speculated on the opposite movement, DOWN, and his loss is the first speculator’s gain.  So, unless there is a complicit, knowing loser on the other side of the trade, forcing the price up by speculation is impossible.  To say otherwise is to feed fear, the last thing we need.

Second, you spoke at some length about “bear-runs” – circumstances where companies’ stock prices were “forced” down by short sellers.  For starters, see above – there are two sides to every trade – some one else believed the opposite, that the share prices would be stable or rise.  In addition, the examples of Bear Strearns and Lehman are telling.  The problems in those two situations were not the short-sellers; the main problems were those companies’ business plans, plans which the short sellers believed would fail.  The short sellers invested their money such that they would profit if their assessment of the plans turned out to be accurate.

In the case of Bear, that problem was worsened by US Treasury Department intervention to (1) assume all of the liabilities of Bear Stearns and (2) sell the remaining assets for a price that didn’t take that $30 Billion white-wash into account.  JP Morgan stole the company with the government’s sanction, getting to keep the assets with the assurance that the contingent liabilities that were on Bear’s balance sheet would be paid by the government – nice work, if you can get it.

With Lehman, the government doomed Lehman when it said “we’re not saving Lehman.”  (I’m not suggesting the government should have ‘saved’ Lehman – the government should have never been involved in the matter.)  We will never know if Lehman could have made it out of their over-commitments to real estate, but they were never given the chance.  Instead government intervention and mark-to-market accounting forced them into insolvency.  Eventually, Lehman filed for bankruptcy and, notwithstanding all the predictions to the contrary, the world did not end.  The market deals with failure almost as well as it does success.  It cleanses the system of bad business plans, and government intervention to keep the market from finding the bottom, so it can bounce, prolongs the pain and moves the bottom DOWN further.

Much can and has been written – much of it wrong – about the financial crisis of 2008.  More populist, anti-Wall-Street-trader rhetoric will not help the country avoid future crises.  More regulations, more government and more mud throwing will all worsen the problem and lead to worse outcomes.  A more clear understanding of how markets function – including how they function to punish failure – will make for a less interventionist government and better outcomes.