Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Analyzing Another Potential Bailout

First our banks failed, then our porn industry calls for a bailout as well. Now our auto industry teeters on the brink of collapse. But another big failure is on the horizon with consequences we cannot possibly imagine.
JDB: Quick! We need a bailout of the chicken wing industry!

CWK: Also, I demand a chicken wing industry bailout. The cascade effect as this spills over into our chili and potato skins industry is too much for the economy to bear.

JDB: Chicken Wings is an industry TOO BIG TO FAIL! Oh sure, BW3 can weather the initial storm, probably buy up the smaller failing players but if this is allowed to go on our entire sports bar industry could be taken down.

CWK: It's the small local firms like Scotty's Brewpub that will really feel the effects. Think of the small businessman!

CWK: And of course all the firms the sports bars buy supplies from. I don't think people realize how embedded into the economy the bar food industry is.

JDB: America's over-extension of the chicken wings will also hurt other solid areas within the Sports Bar Market. Sure, the potato skins sector is on solid footing but the weakness of chicken wings will drag it all down.
Not to mention the international effects. China, for one, will feel an impact of an American Chicken Wing Crash

CWK: Why this statistic I have here from the totally unbiased and not at all funded by the bar food industry Center for Bar Food Research (Located in Buffalo, NY) says that unless the "Big Three" sportsbar chains (BW3, Hooters, Damons) get a bailout it could cost the US economy eleventy billion dollars and 3 million jobs.

CWK: If you disagree, then clearly you hate bartenders and food service professionals and want their families to starve.

JDB: Of course, calls to let the Sports Bar Market crash and reorganize on its own into smaller regional or local chains less apt to bring down ancillary markets are roundly dismissed by the CBFR.

JDB: The best compromise I believe would be a nationalization of the Sports Bar Industry, with the government eating the bad Chicken Wing Assets while selling the still strong Potato Skin and Mozzarella Stick sectors. If/when chicken wings rebound, America will then be better off and able to profit from them
I don't think America has faced a crisis like this since the New York Bagel Crash of 1934.

The GOP Version Of The Bill Is Stuffed With Eagle Down

So it looks like the Democrats in Congress and the Obama Administration are already caving to the Big Scary Republicans.

House Democrats appear likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following an appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.

Dear Democrats Who Happen To Actually, You Know, Be In Power By A Decent Margin,
When negotiating from a position of power, you throw out a high number that you know you can't get and back down from there. You don't start off at your desired result and then let the opposition lowball you down.

I swear, it's like the Democrats are Amy from Futurama and the Republicans are the car salesman Victor (the 1:10 mark is where you can see the resemblance):

So who does that make Malfunctioning Eddie?

Via Think Progress.

Update: Brad at Sadly, No! knows how to negotiate with Victor.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

99 Problems, but a Bush ain't one

I'll try not to let this become a video blog, but this is too good not to share. Jay-Z at the Obama for America Staff Ball:

ANd one more bit of funny. The common joke was that Dick Cheney looked like Dr. Strangelove, but I like The Foggy Monocle's take of Cheney as The Big Lebowski alot.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King

Matt Yglesias's post reminds me that today is a great day to post this clip:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

TARP Round 2

Should congress release the second half of the TARP funds? I'm torn.

On the one hand, it's no secret that the TARP has been horribly mismanaged. You've got banks taking money that admit they don't need it. You've got banks using the money to pick up other banks cheaply. Perhaps my personal favorite is the insurance company that bought a bank just so they could qualify for a bailout. My understanding is that all this money is supposed to be used to ease the "credit crunch"; to open up the credit markets allowing businesses and consumers to finance capital needs again. Of course, that's not happening either.

On the other hand, it's not like the bailout has done nothing. The stock market has stopped its free-fall and the much-feared utter catastrophe has been avoided. Jim Manzi more thoroughly lays out what the bailout has done for us, but he also ends with a warning about round 2:

Congress has the right to approve or deny any request that Treasury might make for the second tranche of the additional $350 billion. This should be treated as a separate request. We have the luxury of time, as compared to a few months ago, to vet this request with far greater rigor, and in light of what we have learned. Specifically, before authorizing this money, Congress should perform its oversight function, and demand to know: (1) what underlying risks, not to shareholders or employees, but of systemic financial collapse now exist or are latent that would justify this much money, and (2) how we will avoid the zombie bank problem, including potential application of lending requirements in return for capital, as has been done in the UK.

I supported the original bank bailout, and continue to believe that it was a painful, but correct, decision. However, supporting the next tranche will require a lot of convincing.

It seems to me that we're stuck in a battle between those oft-opposing two methods of decision-making, Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Precautionary Principle.

PP seems to speak clearly in favor the the second round of bailout money. Yes, no doubt much of the money will be used in inefficient and morally troubling ways. But the danger of a global economic collapse far too serious to worry about that. Staving off economic disaster is Job One, and some rich people game the system along the way, that's the price you pay.

CBA is more difficult. Are we getting a good bang-for-the-buck? What is the real risk of collapse, and are we spending too much to mitigate it because the odds are small? What are the real costs of the negative aspects of the bailout and do they outweigh the gains under some time horizons? I'm not going to dare claim I can figure that out; it will require the brains of actual economists and finance experts.

I wish I had some great conclusion to be drawn from all this, but I still don't. I don't know enough about the risks involved to even attempt to resolve this, but I thought I could lay out a little of what's gone through my head this week thinking about it. I'd love to hear others' thoughts in the comments or in followup posts.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Am A Free Series!

As a part of their promotional experience for the mini-series remake of the 60s TV classic The Prisoner, AMC has made the original series available online for your viewing pleasure. FYI.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Old Views of Indianapolis

The MAKE Blog dug up a link to a very cool collection of penny postcards, sorted by state and county. Decided to check out the page for Marion County and take a look at what Indianapolis used to be.

It's a damn shame they tore down the old Marion County Courthouse when they built that boring 60's era design City/County Building.

Man, how cool would it be if the Pythian Building was still around? Actually found a little history of that building, and Mass Ave was removed there so One Indiana Square could be built.

The Circle is a very different place these days, with the monument now dwarfed by the AFNBBank One Chase Tower. The biggest loss on the circle is the gorgeous English Hotel and Opera House. Here's another great old postcard of the circle.

The Athenaeum has always looked cool and thankfully has survived the years. A little history from the National Park Service here.

Tomlinson Hall. Used to be a part of the City Market complex, it burnt down in 1958. You can see the current old City Market building in this postcard as well. Tomlinson Hall actually hosted two presidential nominating conventions of the Prohibition Party.

Yet another Mass Ave landmark, the Murat. The Wikipedia page has some history.

Butler University used to be in the Irvington area of Indianapolis (then its own town), but later moved to its current location. A couple postcards of the old campus reminds me alot of old small colleges and universities scattered around the state. Of course, their current campus houses the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.

St. Francis Hospital
in Beech Grove is that city's (Beech Grove did notjoin Indy's UNIGOV in the 70's) largest structure, and will be closing in a few years in favor of St. Francis' monstrosity of a hospital near Greenwood. Here's how it looks now.

Anyone know when this postcard might be from? That's some pretty serious flooding.

New Airport vs REALLY Old Airport

What is apparently a view from across the White River in Broadripple of the now gone White City Amusement Park, which once housed a Carosel that is now at the Children's Museum. (about 1/3 of the way down this page has an abbreviated history of the amusement park)

One of my favorite spots in Indianapolis, the Garfield Park Sunken Gardens.

Great collection, with many more postcards on the site than just these. Any postcards you like from where you grew up? Leave some links in the comments.

Full Collection
Indiana Collection

Friday, January 2, 2009

How can Drinking Liberally: Indianapolis give back?

So already I slack, but the holidays and a deadline at work barreling down on my like an out of control [popular culture reference] at a [something related that makes it funny] has left little time. But something that I'll certainly be sharing as the process goes on is how to make Drinking Liberally: Indy do a little more than just get together for beer every week (Thursdays, 7pm-whenever, Spencer's Stadium Tavern, 802 S. West Street ).

2008 was a good year for DL:Indy. Not only our very well attended Election Night Party but our event with the Planned Parenthood in Indy where we had the game Rock Band on the big screen and lots of new faces show up for what was essentially a visibility event for PPYL were very successful. I got to thinking that while I want to keep DL:Indy low key, casual and pretty much an opportunity for like minded people to hang out we could do more.

So the general idea is this: Once a quarter, Drinking Liberally: Indianapolis will co-host an event with/for a deserving non-profit to either raise money or just raise awareness and networking. First up I'm thinking is just a reprise of the Rock Band Night with PPYL, get our event legs under us again. But after that, Q2 comes calling with.... what?

This is where we start to get into undecided/no clue what we are doing territory. One idea has been to do a concert. Get a local band or two and a venue to donate proceeds for the night to [non-profit X], with DL:Indy serving as the "co-host" and bugging everyone we know to show up and be a part of it. Maybe do a raffle of donated items as well.

Luckily, 4 years of DL:Indy has built up a network of people that might just be able to help pull this off. Already have cwk here at The Orphanarium roped into it, and looking to get crs and rfd into it as well. Also have one or two other people in mind that might have ideas or know-how on this sort of thing.

The comments are open for ideas of non-profits that woudl be good to give a helping hand. Already on the list:
  • Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
  • A domestic violence shelter in Crawfordsville, Indiana where an old friend from the Howard Dean campaign days now works
Maybe by posting these ideas here, it will force me to actually follow up and do them.