Saturday, January 24, 2009

Barack Obama's Inaugural Speech

Everything is on YouTube, including a lot of nonsense. Still, I easily found Barack Obama's inauguration speech, which likely will go down in history as one of the better ones. Great speeches do not make great presidencies, and it remains to be seen what Obama can do. He has a lot that needs to be accomplished quickly. Still, for those few who haven't seen it. Here it is:

Economic Stimulus: A Matter of Perspective

Those who know me have heard me kvetching endlessly about the proposed economic stimulus package, and specifically, the idea that simply slinging money at the problem prove to be its solution. In particular, the money to be distributed to the average taxpayer is no bigger than what outgoing president George W. Bush gave out a year ago. We all know how well that turned out. It didn't help the economy one bit, and things actually worsened considerably.

Well, the latest issue of the New Yorker features a column by James Surowiecki, who, for my money, is one of the smarter financial columnists in the business. In "A Smarter Stimulus," he makes a convincing argument that Obama's plan actually is a pretty decent idea. Yes, the infusion of money to the taxpayers alone won't solve the problem, but the way in which the rebate will be distributed (in smaller, weekly increments rather than a lump sum payment) is a far better proposal because people view the former method as additional income to spend and the latter one as wealth that should be saved.

It's all a matter of perspective, and in an age when no one trusts the government to get anything right, we need people like Surowiecki to set the record straight.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frost / Nixon = Couric / Bush

So, I saw Frost/Nixon last night. I can't think of a movie that was better timed than this one. It's a fascinating story, and the film, which was directed by Ron Howard, is very well done. It got me thinking -- I wonder if 30 years from now we will see a sequel called Couric/Bush? Think about it -- there are a lot of parallels to be drawn between the presidencies of Bush and Nixon. And Couric is kind of like this generation's David Frost. Maybe in an attempt to prove herself, she'll get Bush to admit that he was drunk for 8 years (which is the only explanation I've ever come up with for that pretzel incident) and left Cheney in charge of everything.