Friday, September 26, 2008

Genesis of a Crisis

Here's a quick course on how the financial crisis came about and why the Democrats in Congress dare not blame Republicans for it. Even so, if more Republicans had been doing their job when they controlled both chambers of Congress Democratic efforts to block reform would not have been successful.

It's worth the time to watch this, but when I say it's a quick course I mean that it helps to be a speed reader:


Irrational Belief

From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate, and more civilized society. This article in the Wall Street Journal, however, throws a bucket of ice water on that piece of mythology. Here's an excerpt:

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin's former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.

It has been clear to most evangelicals for a long time that the people likeliest to believe the craziest things were not Christians but those who had forsaken belief in the Judeo-Christian God. As G.K. Chesterton observed, when people stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything.


The Obama Test

A friend passes along the Obama Test. It's a survey to see how closely one's views hew to those of Barack Obama. Some of the questions are poorly framed, and some lead too obviously toward a desired answer, but even so it gives a good idea of where Senator Obama stands on a wide range of issues. You can take the survey here.

I found that the senator and I agreed about 4% of the time.


More on the Bailout

Donald Luskin at NRO writes on the administration's $700 billion bailout of the financial markets that, "To arrive at a principled view on this intervention, we must answer three critical questions: Is it necessary? Will it work? And even then, is it morally justifiable?"

Good questions, these. Go here for Luskin's thoughts on them.

I do not profess to know the ins and outs of the mess we're evidently in, but I do have a thought on any package put together to get us out of it. In my view any such proposal must have four elements: It must ensure that the taxpayers reap whatever profit is made from the investment of the $700,000,000. It must ensure that people working for the financial institutions that receive our largesse are fired and given no severance compensation. It must not help those who defaulted on speculative mortgages nor assist illegal aliens whose mortgages, apparently a significant number, are in default. The taxpayer should not be compelled to underwrite speculators nor buy houses for illegals. Thirdly, there needs to be a provision set up to establish a grand jury to investigate the relationships between the failed firms and Washington politicians, particularly Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd.

Our economy is on the brink of total collapse in large part because politicians and bureaucrats pressured banks to give loans to high risk buyers, congress and the SEC refused to impose any constraints on the practice, and CEOs of major lending institutions were only too happy to go along because they were making a fortune.

None of these guilty parties should be absolved of their culpability for their derelictions, irresponsibility, and greed.