Friday, November 13, 2009

Rick Santelli is right (again)

Rick Santelli, CNBC
This morning I watched CNBC's Rick Santelli talking from the Chicago Board Of Trade.  His so-called, "Santelli Rant" has been watched on YouTube over a million times and his sentiments today, once again, represent the views of many Americans who pay their own way, just like you and me.  We believe in living within our means -- it's how we were raised -- but we lack a microphone.

Rick Santelli was in fine form this morning while debating Steve Liesman.  The topic was banking reform and Mr. Santelli made a case for an elegantly simple cure -- raise the banks' capital requirements. 

Another CNBC commentator chimed in that this is the same risk premium banks require when a homeowner has a marginal credit history -- the bank looks for more cash in the deal -- a bigger down payment to compensate for the risk of default.

Why can't we use the same mechanism to minimize chances of another banking meltdown?  Do we need new federal agencies, reams of new regulations, congressional hearings, Barney Frank class warfare speeches and on and on? 

Banks just need greater reserves to cover their own risk-taking.  I realize such requirements affect profitability, but it beats more government involvement.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Medellín, Columbia and Nixon

I have heard from friends with ties to Columbia, that conditions have dramatically improved across the country, although impressions from an ugly past still linger around the world. 

Tonight during Anthony Bourdain's show about Columbia, I watch as he visits Medellín and interviews locals - many of whom suffered enormously during the awful Pablo Escobar period of the 1980s.  The people appear proud, hopeful, even happy.  Mr. Bourdain says something to a local that instantly reminds me of what a rueful Richard Nixon told the White House staff in the final hours of his presidency:

"Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain." 

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

She who frames the healthcare debate...wins.

When the topic of healthcare reform took center stage this summer, I felt that "healthcare reform" had suddenly become code for "let's change health insurance." 

I was certain that I was missing something.  It's like the "3.5M jobs saved or created" metric which I wrote about last March.  I thought I was the only one disturbed by how stimulus programs would be measured and conveyed to the public, because I wasn't seeing or hearing views similar to my own. 
Surgeons, Wikipedia

Back to the issue of healthcare reform.  The reform measure that counts, is the one that lowers healthcare costs for patients.  That should be how we frame the national discussion and measure success or failure.  Is an expanded insurance pool run by the government going to achieve this goal? 

Lowering the cost of that pill, that surgery, that MRI, whatever it is -- would benefit us all.  I do not see how the House bill will lower health care costs.  

Agree or not, the sleight of hand here is that President Obama, Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid, etc. have successfully shifted the focus from lowering healthcare costs, to demonizing the health insurance industry to obtain government control and thus delight their base.

If their bill passes, everyone will be 'covered' by virtue of a new mechanism.  That new mechanism is government-mandated, taxpayer funded, healthcare reform -- which of course is not reform at all -- unless you frame the debate to look that way.