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Bits and Pieces

January 3rd, 2009 by Bill Brown · 5 Comments · Link Cavalcade

  1. “BB&T Took Federal Rescue Money at Treasury’s Urging”: it looks like BB&T’s acceptance of federal bailout money wasn’t a selling out of its principles so much as a grudging recognition that the failure to do so could have federal consequences as well as competitive ramifications. In today’s legal environment, it probably also would have faced a shareholder lawsuit. While I would have preferred its CEO, John Allison, to have told the Treasury officials where they could deposit their “investment,” I understand that an officer of a public corporation has a fiduciary responsibility that forces his hand in these situations. I am glad that they’ve publicly opposed the program in which they were forced to participate.
  2. Name of Russia: thankfully, Joseph Stalin ended up losing to Alexander Nevsky and Pyotr Stolypin but it seemed possible that he might have been voted number one as late as last week. There’s movement afoot in Russia to rehabilitate Stalin by squelching researchers seeking to explore the contours of his bloodshed and rewriting the history books to suggest that he did what he had to do in order to protect Russia’s greatness. While one of the researchers attributes the embrace of Stalinism as a failure of “historical memory” on the part of the Russian people, I think the problem runs much deeper than a lack of official recognition of Stalin’s atrocities. It seems as if the average Russian’s identity is tied up with some notion of national greatness, causing them to long for the time when Russia was a superpower even though they cannot have enjoyed life under communist rule. Stalin, perhaps, is seen as a strong leader that held total sway over the country and incredible influence with the West. Putin has definitely sought to capitalize on this trend, which does not bode well given the way FDR—er, Obama—is likely to relate to him.
  3. “Resolutions still worth making”: I love New Year’s because it’s the perfect day to take stock of your life and see what you’d like from the coming year. But Epstein points out that too many are passive about goal-setting. Like Valentine’s Day for the feckless husband, New Year’s becomes the one day a year when one does what one should be doing all year long. The good life does not come easily: it takes effort and resolve and lifelong commitment. The good life requires living consciously and conscientiously.
  4. “Obama and Education Reform”: Bill Ayers—yes, that one—argues that education in America should be built around the maxim that “the fullest development of all is the necessary condition for the full development of each” and that its students should be able “to develop initiative and imagination, the capacity to name the world, to identify the obstacles to their full humanity, and the courage to act upon whatever the known demands.” Further, he argues that “all children and youth in a democracy, regardless of economic circumstance, deserve full access to richly-resourced classrooms led by caring, qualified and generously compensated teachers.” The mind reels at how wholly Obama may have taken in this guy’s ideas in all the time that they were working together in Chicago.
  5. Letter to President Bush from Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina [PDF]: “I believe we are at a tipping point in moving from a market-based economy to a politically-based economy, wherein one’s success can be determined not by good decisions and hard work, but by the size of one’s voice and connection to Washington.” Hear, hear! I’ll definitely keep my eye on the South Carolina governor.

5 Comments so far ↓

  • Burgess Laughlin

    Thanks for pointing to the BB&T story. It illustrates a sometimes overlooked destructive effect of statism (and the mysticism and altruism that support it): Living in society becomes a life in the jungle. A person who has objective principles must be constantly on the lookout for predators direct and indirect–e.g., not only the statist government itself but one’s competitors who are “advantaged,” in a supposedly free market, by the state.

    Even seeming benefits, such as (selective) tax cuts can make life more difficult in society because of the “advantage” that relatively greater freedom gives to those fortunate enough to receive it.

  • Bill Brown

    The BB&T representative also pointed out that several acquisition targets were artificially propped up by the bailout, meaning that their failures would have been immediately corrected. Instead, they now linger on and limp along thanks to the Treasury trying to “save” them.

  • Matt F.

    Unfortunately, while he seems to occasionally have the right idea on some economic issues, Sanford seems to be a typical social conservative, as per his page.

  • Madmax

    It seems that Sanford is like every other fiscal Conservative which means he is a social/religious/cultural Conservative as well. This is distressing because it points to the fact that there are no secular defenders of capitalism. Secularists are invariably “secular humanists” and thus very collectivist as they worship humanity instead of worshiping god. So, in today’s cultural context, more fiscal Conservatives means more religious Conservatives.

    If they don’t get you one way they get you another.

  • Bill Brown

    His Wikipedia entry—look at the last paragraph there—seemed to indicate that he might be the type who thinks that religion has no place in the public sphere. I couldn’t find anything overtly religious right about him, but I didn’t investigate too deeply.