Corporate Scandals

Reason Morning Links: "How Many Varieties of Corporate Welfare Can You Spot?" Edition

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• Americans are losing faith in nearly every major social institution.

• AIG spends your money. (And on a related note…)

• The Federal Home Loan Banks' role in the financial meltdown.

• Agribusiness pushes to make the National Animal Identification System mandatory.

• To protect "national security," the negotiating text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is being kept secret—unless you're a "cleared advisor." Guess who gets to be a cleared advisor?

• Peter Schiff issues a warning about credit cards.

• Secret Red Cross report: CIA interrogation methods "constituted torture."

• The man who shot James A. Garfield.

• For sale: assorted metal/plastic prisoner cages.

• This is your NCAA thread, too. Use it wisely!

NEXT: Smile, You're On Cop-Car Camera

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  1. Can someone in the scene check this one (sorry, I am at work)?

    For sale: assorted metal/plastic prisoner cages.

    Wondering if they are suitable for private play.

  2. As a cattle rancher and farmer, I’m getting a little tired of the Alice Waters, Michael Pollan types talking about how we need more bureaucracy and incentives to remake our food system, all while being strangely silent about the movement within that bureaucracy that are going to crush the very types of farms they claim they’d like to see. Is it naivete, or the blindness of their faith in all things government?

  3. Pollan does talk about it, actually, though he is in no way a consistent libertarian.

  4. The only social institution the public isn’t losing trust in is the military!

    Although declining,there is still far too much public faith in science and medecine.

  5. Michael Pollan types

    The Omnivore’s Dilemma pretty much straight up blames agriculture subsidies (specifically, corn subsidies) for everything that’s wrong with the American diet. The “good farmer” in the book is a staunch libertarian. If Pollan’s changed his tune since then, ‘twould be a sad thing.

  6. Pfft, the last thing we needs is declining “faith” in science.

  7. Sorry, zoltan, we a post-Enlightenment society now.

  8. Woo! UK! We’re in the NIT! Woo!

    NIT: The Ugly Girl’s Prom.

  9. You know, looking at the first couple links, I tend to wonder if Billy Beck wasn’t an optimist when he said we’re on the rocket sled to hell.

  10. Sorry, zoltan, we a post-Enlightenment society now.

    Yeah, that’s what it’s called when they “lighten” our pocketbooks. Anyone seen the story this morning about the bailout money AIG sent to foreign banks overseas? As a taxpayer I’m just tickled to death to be bailing out French, German or British banks.

  11. PL,

    I’ll see your WTF and raise you a “retarded.”

    There’s a perfectly good genre name for what SciFI, SyFy whatever wants to call itself. SF, as in Speculative Fiction.

    It should really change it’s name to the Done One Thing Right Ever Channel and be done with it. Now that BSG is about over, the channel can return to its reputation for being the go-to-guys for shitty TV series starring old Canadian actresses and crap horror movies minus any redeeming nudity.

  12. A throw-away comment in the linked article strikes me as the only possible reason (all the other stated reasons are absurd)–“Sci Fi” is too generic and not amenable to trademark protection. Of course, SyFy is stupid, so they’re not gaining much in my mind.

  13. SugarFree,

    They do run some important re-runs, like Firefly.

  14. Now that BSG is about over, the channel can return to its reputation for being the go-to-guys for shitty TV series starring old Canadian actresses and crap horror movies minus any redeeming nudity

    Quite possible the best constructed sentence in existence.

  15. Xeones- The Omnivore’s Dilemma pretty much straight up blames agriculture subsidies (specifically, corn subsidies) for everything that’s wrong with the American diet. The “good farmer” in the book is a staunch libertarian. If Pollan’s changed his tune since then, ‘twould be a sad thing.

    Oh I’m in total agreement. Joel Salatin is a personal hero. I’d love to hear his take on NAIS, it’s exactly the thing he tried to teach to Pollan, that well meaning regulation crushes the little guy. I’ve seem Pollan interviews since that convinced me Pollan did not learn enough lessons from Salatin.

    All this Foodie uprising talk is bullshit if their chosen politicians enact laws that will burden the very farms they claim to support.

  16. PL,

    I agree they run some important re-runs, but I’d rather them be more the channel they were when they started. Think of all of the not-on-DVD reruns they could be running and don’t in favor of Mansquito. I’d take three hours of Dark Shadows a day than fucking Ghost Hunters.

  17. zoltan,

    If this damn site had a preview function, I could avoid clumsy sentences like that.

  18. Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

    Silly me- I originally assumed that had something to do with counterfeit currency, until I looked at the list.

    But seriously, General Motors? Who would want to copy any of their stuff? Are they afraid the Koreans are going to start selling knockoffs of the Pontiac Aztek?

  19. Wasn’t President Retardo weeping and wailing about the impending plague of death and destruction awaiting us if we don’t nationalize the food industry, the other day?

  20. Hey, wait a second. This site does have a preview function. I just used it.

  21. No SugarFree, I was being serious. I thought that was hilarious.

  22. zoltan,

    It’s a bit awkward. Not a shining example of my snark prowess.

    for being the go-to-guys for is some clumsy prose.

    Pro Libertate’s out-dry-witting me on the preview button joke is troubling though.

  23. Look, there it is again–P-r-e-v-i-e-w. Maybe they just added it or something.

  24. Cheer up, SugarFree. At least you didn’t screw up the pizza link.

  25. As for the NCAA athletic slave trade: fuck those guys.

  26. Xeones,

    A cold comfort in a world where PL is taking my joke and running with it.

  27. Yo, fuck running joke theft.

  28. Are you using Firefox? Maybe it’s a Firefox plug-in.

  29. P Brooks,

    While I am entirely on board with the notion that student athletes should be formally compensated for the millions that make for a university, I also can’t gin up any sympathy for those poor basketball players who have to suffer through four years of not having to go to classes, having personal chefs, driving brand new sports cars they don’t own on paper, and almost complete immunity from being charged with crimes up to and including rape. And the ability to walk away from a university at any point to go pro.

    If I work really hard, I might be able to shed a single tear.

  30. I joke because of my pain. SyFy? What the Fy? And who, pray tell, is Sy?

  31. I just think you don’t like it when I’m self-deprecating.

  32. That’s Episiarch. He’s got an anti-humility thing.

  33. Epi’s sleeping it off. He’ll be around later.

  34. Re: NCAA

    I have built over the last 2 years a computer program that models the selection committee. It does a very good job of predicting who is in and somewhat on seeds, but they occassionally choke it and dont follow their established standards.

    It was off by 2 teams this year. I had Creighton and SD St in and Maryland and Arizona out. SD St and Maryland were close enough to the cut line to not worry about. Creighton and Arizona werent close. My system projected Creighton as an EIGHT seed. Arizona was about 10th in the not ins.

    I tweaked a little to see if I could figure out what the committee was thinking and the answer is no. They went off their standards completely in that case.

    Also, Gonzaga a 4? WTF? I had a few other seeding descepencies, but that one stuck out bad. I had them as a 7.

    If the zags are a 4, I understand why everyone thought St Mary’s should have been in. I had them as first team out.

  35. From the livestock article:

    Nobody’s written the bill yet, but the idea pushed in a congressional hearing this week was to create a mandatory program that would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to track every single head of livestock in the country. This would allow the government to track and contain outbreaks of animal infections, supporters argue, protecting consumers from tainted meat.

    Wow, that paragraph sent a shiver down my spine. I hope none of the epidemiologists at the Department of Agriculture get transfered to the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Department of Education for that matter.

  36. Athletic slave trade?!?! Wha?!?!?! They get paid–in housing, tuition, meals, tutoring, trips to expensive restaurants, training, uniforms, health services, and even cash handouts sometimes (this happened at the university I went to). The housing and meals are usually above par, not to mention that the tuition they’re getting paid in usually results in higher than average grades with less than average work (no, not because they’re geniuses who don’t need to study to pass classes). I’m not sure what makes them slaves. They can go pro anytime they’d like, doesn’t guarantee they’d make it though.

  37. NIT: The Ugly Girl’s Prom.

    My alma mater is going to be eating ice cream and watching movies and getting herself off that night instead.

    But at least we beat Clemson on our way out.

  38. robc,

    Did you see that they don’t even get to play in Rupp? The high school tournament kicked them out. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Gillespie is doomed!

  39. SugarFree,

    1 more year.

    Then Ford will be ready. Give him two years out in Indian Territory.

  40. Actually phone conversation I expect next year (in its entirety):

    Ford: Travis Ford speaking.
    Barnhart: We are calling you home.
    Ford: See you tomorrow.

  41. Actual not actually. Damn it, where is that preview functon ProLib is blabbering about?

  42. I’ve recoded the Hit & Run site so that only I can preview. [Maniacal laughter.]

    In other news, Japan has revealed to the world a working robot model. Model as in wears-clothes-and-walks-on-runways model

  43. Pitt at the #1 seed for the first time.

    Looks like the Steel City will be sweeping the sports world this year (Steelers, Panthers, Penguins).

    Sorry Warty…

  44. Seems like as good a thread as any to jack.

    Apparently, this weekend Obama issued an order requiring the military to shred all its once-fired brass, rather than sell it to be reloaded for the civilian market.

    Worky firewall prevents decent linkage, but Google up “Obama brass destruction order.”

  45. Watchmen + Feministing = Hilarious.

    Overall, I found the message in the movie to be astoundingly shitty. Lesbian “whores” should be murdered for their “depraved lifestyles”, women, no matter how strong, have no hope of defending themselves, a woman’s true power comes from her as a sexual/emotional object, and people of color are all criminals. Thank you, Zack Snyder, for ruining my day.

  46. Obama issued an order requiring the military to shred all its once-fired brass

    For a moment, I thought you were talking about officers who had been dismissed. I imagine something like the woodchipper scene in Fargo.

  47. PL,

    Relevant bits bolded for your pleasure.

    Warren Ellis’ Three Laws of Robotics

    1. Robots couldn’t really give a fuck if you live or die. Seriously. I mean, what are you thinking? “Ooh, I must protect the bag of meat at all costs because I couldn’t possibly plug in the charger all on my own.” Shut the fuck up.

    2. Robots do not want to have sex with you. Are you listening, Japan? I don’t have a clever comparative simile for this, because frankly you bags of meat will fuck bicycles if they’re laying down and not putting up a fight. Just stop it. There is no robot on Earth that wants to see a bag of meat with a small prong on the end approaching it with a can of WD-40 and a hopeful smile. And don’t get me started on that terrifying hole that squeezes out more bags of meat.

    3. What, you can’t count higher than three? We’re expected to save your miserable lives, suffer being dressed in cheap schoolgirl costumes while you pollute any and all cavities you can find and do your maths for you? It’s a miracle you people survived long enough to build us. You can go now.

  48. I’m not sure how Watchmen condoned the murder of Silhouette and her lesbian partner. Unless the character of Rorschach is somehow taken as representative of Snyder’s views.

  49. Since this is the NCAA thread-jack forum:

    Go Akron Zips!

  50. The Watchmen don’t like Lesbians?

    Count me out. I will never risk up my mornings as kitten, serving breakfast to my friends by watching such twisted ‘art’.

  51. I have developed a computer program that will project the exact results of the NCAA tourney.

    And the final will be:

    Stephen F. Austin v. Robert Morris

    Stupid computer!

  52. Those are good laws. The Japanese don;t care, though. They will have their round-eye fembot love slaves. Oh, yes, they will.

  53. I’m was starting to notice this Obama guy pretty much sucks it.

    Then R C Dean comes along with the confirmation number.

    Thanks.

    I did get a laugh from googling “Obama brass destruction order” – one commenter at one site had a nice acronym: One Big Ass Mistake America.

  54. Well, Sugarfree, I suspect your equation is just a specific instance of the general rule that

    Anything + Feministing = Hilarious.

  55. The AIG bonus scanel is the bailiout equivalent of earmarks.

    The real scandel is the massive payouts to Goldman Sachs and other banks that bought credit default swaps and CDOs from AIG.

    A lot of that stuff was just gambling, in that they didn’t have any equity at stake. And even where it isn’t, it makes no sense for the taxpayer to be on the hook to pay off 100% of the value of an insurnace policy at a failed firm. If AIG was in bankruptcy, a bankruptcy judge would reduce the payouts to a fraction of the value, but because AIG got bailed out, everyone’s getting paid as if the company hadn’t failed.

    Imagine if there was a huge hurricane season and StateFarm went bust – do you think the government would bail them out so that every single homeowner would get 100% of the policy’s worth.

    The worst thing about this is the moral hazard. it provides no icentives for people to avoid selling insurance (CDOs and CDSes) willy nilly to anyone who wants to place a “bet”. The government will always be there to pay off the bets, so there’s no risk involved for either the house or the players.

  56. Imagine if there was a huge hurricane season and StateFarm went bust – do you think the government would bail them out so that every single homeowner would get 100% of the policy’s worth.

    Post-Katrina? That’s exactly what I would expect to see.

  57. Imagine if there was a huge hurricane season and StateFarm went bust – do you think the government would bail them out so that every single homeowner would get 100% of the policy’s worth.

    Yes.

    You’ve gotta love those “retention bonuses”.

    “How else can we attract the best and the brightest; you know, more MBAs like the ones who drove this thing into the dirt without ever even taking their foot off the gas?”

  58. Dear President Obama,

    I am a well-educated attorney with lots of experience and blue-chip resume lines. Due to the catastrophes you keep talking about, I am considering a move to a more successful nation. However, for a nominal retention bonus, say, U.S. $1 billion, I would be willing to stay on with your country.

    Sincerely,

    Pro Libertate

  59. Apparently, this weekend Obama issued an order requiring the military to shred all its once-fired brass, rather than sell it to be reloaded for the civilian market.

    One of the companies involved posted this notice at their gateway. Note that “civilian market” includes major ammo contracts for police departments. Note also that one reason that the civilian market for ammo is so tight is that civilian manufacturers have taken up the slack to provide Department of Defense ammo.

    Not only does shredding the brass cases and casting them into ingots cost money, it reduces the salvage value by 80%.

    Evidently ammunition manufacturing isn’t going to get a “stimulus.”

    Another post here.

  60. Screw Schiff! My credit cards are paid off! Yes, it’s true that they all have ridiculous limits on them, but I keep them paid off.

    Debt in America wouldn’t be a problem if we had a policy of letting people fail. Let the banks collapse and homes foreclose. Bankruptcy needs to be the stigma it once was.

  61. Although declining,there is still far too much public faith in … medecine.

    I was surprised by this one. I’ve personally seen friends and family successfully treated for maladies that would have been a death sentence just a few years ago. In some cases, with some minimally-invasive surgery or even a pill.

    I suppose “medicine” means the whole medical system, though, including health insurance, Medicare, etc.

  62. The AIG article doesn’t mention the word, “contract”, anywhere. My understanding is that at least some of the bonuses AIG paid were contractually required. That’s one bit of good news from this ginormous AIG bailout mess — contract law is still holding, despite Geithner’s disregard for it.

  63. My understanding is that at least some of the bonuses AIG paid were contractually required.

    Bonuses are incentives. Incentives don’t work to change behavior unless they are set in advance. Financial industry types are sophisticated enough to require that their company’s obligation to pay incentives be binding.

    I would be very surprised if most of the executive bonuses weren’t payable under binding contracts. Of course, the academic and government types infesting Obama’s administration and blathering about these bonuses won’t be well acquainted with the concept of incentives, bonuses, and binding agreements.

  64. Yeah, but if AIG was in bankruptcy court then the amount of the bonus would have to be settled for a fraction of what’s stated in the contract.
    If they got anything.

  65. Yeah, but if AIG was in bankruptcy court then the amount of the bonus would have to be settled for a fraction of what’s stated in the contract.

    Yup, and that’s one of the reasons I think AIG should be in bankruptcy court.

  66. Yup, and that’s one of the reasons I think AIG should be in bankruptcy court.

    I agree. But one could argue that, since these firms are effectively failed anyway, any contract they made could be declared void. The executives who hold those contracts are just another creditor.

    What’s troubling me at the moment is that it’s almost like we’re inventing a new form of bankruptcy on the fly, one where the executive branch calls the shots instead of the judicial branch. So the government can take over a company, and then instead of liquidating it’s assets or restructuring it, in a way that is fairly administered by a judge, it can start using it as a political tool.

  67. re: “it’s almost like we’re inventing a new form of bankruptcy on the fly, one where the executive branch calls the shots instead of the judicial branch.

    I was thinking the same thing. Bankcleptcy?

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