In Defense of Scrooge

Bah! Humbug! Go ahead, say it. It feels good –about as good as 45 minutes of power yoga I’d say. Though I’m no Dickensian scholar I’ve always enjoyed the story of A Christmas Carol –especially the 1970 musical version staring Albert Finney. I find the performances and the music mesmerizing. It’s one of the few musicals I own.  However, I always felt the Scrooge character-type was misunderstood. Dickens artfully uses an aging business man as the representation of greed and hatefulness.  But strip away Dickens’ biases(as mentioned in the article link below) for artistic effect and what do you have? An elderly and honest businessman who at every turn is mocked and interfered with simply for being himself.  Imagine a small, decrepit man, shuffling down Broadway, his face, body and mind the result of  a lifetime of loss and abuse who only wants to be left alone for that is the only place where he can be truly peaceful…until the ghosts appear.  You only have to revisit the scenes with the ghost of Christmas past to understand where I’m coming from. Interestingly I found an article online, on a Ludwig Von Mises site of all places, that takes the defense of Scrooge a step further. It looks at Scrooge through the filter of the Austrian School of economics and libertarian values.  In the article author Michael Levin poses some questions that are both funny and insightful. Who did Scrooge ever lie to? Who has Scrooge actually taken advantage of?  Does he have a right to be left alone?

In Defense of Scrooge by  Michael Levin

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Iceland Back From The Brink: Lessons For America

The people of Iceland non-violently reclaimed their country. They demanded new elections and a new banking board. They also voted against paying back massive debts to the UK that they themselves had nothing to do with.  Most importantly,
Iceland let their banks default.

Iceland took the pain and faced it head on and now, four years later, they are seeing signs of growth and recovery. Some Americans were on the same page back in the 2008. We defeated the initial Henry Paulson bailout plan when it first came to a vote. Then the following week Paulson resubmitted an updated version of his original three-page, 600 billion-plus request and forced it through.  With this pushy, CEO-like move he ignored the will of the people.

The FDIC protects accounts up to 250K, if they honored this could we have also let poorly run banks fail?  Was it time for the American people to force common sense on the banking  industry? Though Iceland has a small homogeneous population they may have the answers America is looking for.  Here’s a nice little page with an overview of how they returned from the brink.

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-the-world-can-learn-from-icelands-default-model-2011-8?op=1

I’m not a big regulation guy but here’s a few rules that I’ve learned from others that make a lot of sense.
1. Banks must hold loans for the life of the loan. No more wrapping up loser loans and selling them to others. The purchasers of these loser loans(and their Quants) soon realize they need insurance in the form of a credit default swaps. When these contracts fail what happens? It’s an unregulated cascade.

2. Banking should be a boring business. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. If you can’t make a profit making loans you shouldn’t be a banker. With fractional reserve banking allowing a bank to lend 10 times its deposit base it should be a fairly easy thing to do. Many current large bank CEOs really want to be and essentially are hedge fund managers. Let them run private hedge funds and get all the glory and all the risk. This way if they fail the American public doesn’t have to bail them out and then be lectured to that it was necessary.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2013 Nominees

It’s an interesting line-up of nominees. Will they actually give Rush the nod and provide prog rock fans around the world with a synchronized rockgasm? I can see the salesman at Guitar Center now –the one with the piano tie, kneeling and openly weeping with joy. Will Randy Newman and Heart dare to jam with Kraftwerk –I don’t think Florian or Ralf will tolerate such nonsense!

With Joan Jett and The Blackhearts also possibly playing I’d have to watch it this year.

Then you have The Monkees getting dissed (as Flavor Flav would say) again. Which is fine as Mickey would rather have an Emmy I’m sure. Their music, whoever was writing it or playing it or profiting from it, was tremendous fun esp. for kids (me as a kid). They re-ran those shows when I was about three or four or five or six and I still want to live in a beach house and play tunes.

The Rock HOF certainly has the cryptic coldness of some independent, all-powerful group like the Federal Reserve or the Justin Bieber fan club. We just have to accept their decisions and move forward.

RateMDs and Doctor Shopping

Doctor shopping isn’t just for addicted celebrities anymore. Now you too can find just the right doc for your needs but be prepared to possibly pay out-of-network prices. Perhaps you have these questions: How do you find a Doctor to meet your specific goals? Maybe you have a special problem? Perhaps a problem even caused by poor previous medical treatment. Or maybe you’re just sick of spending hours in the wait room at your doctor’s “group office” due to overbooking for the same appointment time. I found RateMDs.com to be an excellent resource that I’ve used to find quality care. On RatesMDs.com you can search by specialty and drill down to location. You can then copy and paste that list of doctors into a spreadsheet program (like Excel). The sorting is key and easier than you might think. First delete all doctors that have less than four reviews. Two reviews could be the Mom and secretary vote. Then sort by review rating. Take the three most highly rated doctors and book an appointment with each. In my case the process of booking an appointment allowed me narrow it down to two doctors. Both were excellent and one turned out to be the perfect professional I was looking for.

www.ratemds.com

Part II: TO UNLOCK OR NOT TO UNLOCK AND THE DEATH OF MY TOUCH SCREEN PHONE

Ended up buying the same model phone, the LG Rumor Touch, on Ebay for $39 and change. Here’s the thing, by buying the same model phone VirginMobile hasn’t bumped up my plan –I’m still grandfathered into my current plan. So all is well on that front at the moment. I’m still not a fan of its touch screen but it does have the best sliding keypad I’ve seen with almost chicklet-sized buttons.  For travel overseas I did buy an unlocked Razr V3 for $20. 🙂

The Pseudo Fed Blog

I’m a huge Roger Federer fan. Tennis is very lucky at the moment in that the top three male players are such great guys. This blog pokes some gentle fun at the greatest player in history. If you’re a Fed fan you’ll appreciate it.

http://pseudofedblog.com/

Russell Means: Welcome To The Reservation

Russell Means: Welcome To The Reservation

ECONOMICS: Nassim Taleb On QE2 & Newish Book

Logical views and possible solutions from the author of FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS and THE BLACK SWAN.

HEALTH VIEW: 801010 Open & Available To Anyone

Dr. D welcomes you to try 801010. Not just for super-athletes anymore. 🙂

NEWS: Ever Wonder Why Mainstream Journalism Is So Stale?

This NY Times web article describes how mainstream journalists are pre-edited by political campaigns that require “quote approval”.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/us/politics/latest-word-on-the-campaign-trail-i-take-it-back.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all