Talent Not Required

It is said there are many paths to the top of the mountain. And it is widely believed that the better, more talented climber will reach the peak faster.

Recent research suggests talent is overrated. The less-talented may still achieve. Even without pursuing political careers.

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We Do Not Trust Ourselves

That entity which we call “a market” is not an entity at all. Markets are a collection of smaller entities engaged with each other. Markets are emergent processes. A coordinated pattern emerges from independent agents repeating relatively simple acts.

For the Record

I AM JOE. I am a Wal Mart schlub in flyover country who changes my own oil and unclogs drains without a license. I smoke and drink beer and toss the football in the front yard with my kid, and I figure I can fend my way without handouts from some Magic Messiah's candy bags. Most everyone in my family and most everyone I grew up with is another Joe, and if you screw with them, you screw with me.

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The Living American Gospel

Is the Word of God open to interpretation? Is there a “Living Gospel”? Some, like the oft-maligned Biblical Literalists, say the Bible is absolutely accurate. Modern Islamic theology holds that the Koran loses its divine nature when translated out of Arabic.

The Muslim view seems to echo St. Augustine:

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

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Obama’s DoD Prescription: More Rumsfeld

Barack Obama says he represents “the change we need”. Looking beyond the slogan and into actual policy guidance offered by Obama, I see old prescriptions rather than new ideas. Barry’s plan for national defense seems to resonate strongly with the past.

From Obama’s campaign website:

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Pew Poll Shows Dems Less Patriotic

Nearly every American agrees with the statement "I am very patriotic," but there is a large and growing division in the intensity with which Republicans and Democrats express this sentiment. Currently, 71% of Republicans and just 48% of Democrats say they completely agree with that statement.

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Superficial Endorsement

Al-Jazeera chose to quote these reasons offered by Colin Powell for his endorsement of Obama:

In an appearance on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday, the retired US general said Obama had "met the standard" to lead "because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all cross America".

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Imagining the Protests

A sign of progress from NRR’s neighborhood:

BusinessWeek.com has identified Northeast Minneapolis as a great buying opportunity.

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Capitalists vs. Highwaymen

“The financial crisis is not the crisis of capitalism," according to Mr. Sarkozy. “It is the crisis of a system that has distanced itself from the most fundamental values of capitalism, which betrayed the spirit of capitalism.”

Capitalism has not led the world into “crisis”. Today’s troubles are a symptom of the perversion of capitalism through government policy.

Greed Hauls No Freight

I find much inspiration in the Antiplanner’s posting about railroad magnate James J. Hill.

[Hill] quickly built to Grand Forks and Devils Lake, North Dakota, accessing hundreds of thousands of acres of prime wheat growing country. The St. Paul & Pacific came with a small land grant, which Hill sold to settlers at rock-bottom prices with the goal of putting farmers on the land who would grow crops that his railroad could ship. The railroad was soon shipping close to a quarter of the spring wheat grown in the U.S. and paying its shareholders 8 percent annual dividends.

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The Unseen Root of Wealth

The Antiplanner has posted on James J. Hill and the beginnings of the Great Northern Railway. Hill was surely proof the American Dream can be realized. Few are so gifted and so driven to achieve Hill’s level of riches. But remember, the dream is not about dollars and motorcars. It is to be allowed to attain according to capacity, without confinement to class or caste.

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The American Dream

The idea of the American Dream is evoked so often, from so many quarters, I decided I was no longer sure we all agreed on just what the dream is.

From Wikipedia, quoting James Truslow Adams:

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Wizards in Pork Pie Hats

Are the wizards of Wall Street smarter than the average bear?

The most visible symbol of financial problems seems to be the falling stock market. But all those companies in those indexes are the same ones that were there a month ago, and are still healthy and making money. The fall in the markets does not represent and change in the current health of industrial America. The lower prices reflect a changing expectation about those company's future prospects, but the folks driving the market are just guessing, and really, their guesses aren't really any better than yours or mine.

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We Now Interrupt Your Panic

While the headlines are focused on gray financial skies, sunshine increases in Iraq.

BAGHDAD — Market by market, square by square, the walls are beginning to come down. The miles of hulking blast walls, ugly but effective, were installed as a central feature of the surge of American troops to stop neighbors from killing one another.

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A Magnificent Bastard?

Senator McCain has begun attacking Senator Obama’s judgment in choosing friends and associates. McCain is echoing the rhetoric employed by running-mate Sarah Palin. A primary component of this tactic is attempting links between Obama and William Ayers.

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Unqualified to Speak From the Ivory Tower

Don Boudreaux, head of the econ department at George Mason University, responds to a request for Obama to speak on campus:

…I have negative willingness to be part of an effort to give any politician a platform to speak about economics. Very few of them have any knowledge of the subject, and even fewer of them are courageous enough to speak about it honestly.

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Wilkinson Tops Them All

Who won the Presidential town hall debate? Wilkinson. Again. He’s 2–0 vs. all the candidates and the rest of the typing heads.

Here’s the healthcare section:

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Ignorance is No Excuse

Legal experts in TJICistan have revealed another of nature’s immutable laws. Known as Sturgeon’s Law, this oft-overlooked rule states:

90% of Everything is Crap.

Compliance with Sturgeon’s Law is expected to result in increased efficiencies all along the NRR.

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Bank Failure Accounting 101

Let's return to the basic balance sheet of a typical financial company before the writedowns:

FRED’S BANK & TRUST
BALANCE SHEET

Good Assets: $95
Questionable Assets: $5
TOTAL ASSETS: $100

Liabilities to Customers: $80
Debt to Bondholders: $17
Shareholder Equity: $3
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDER EQUITY: $100

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It’s Fascism

Congress has passed the bailout/rescue bill, and the current President scurried right over and signed it into law.

Pundits speaking for the huge popular majority opposed to the plan seem to have decided to call it socialism, or a nationalization of banking and real estate. There is a political philosophy which combines those terms. National Socialism. Or, in a word, fascism.

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