Political Follies

While eating lunch, I’ve been skimming the papers… and a number of articles related to the Presidential Election are coming to mind.

First, there is the issue of whether big business is good (although the value of “good” is never defined). The R camp seems to believe that the solution to the economic problems is to get government out of the way of business. The underlying belief here is that business exists to hire people and do good stuff. But is that borne out? I don’t believe so; in fact, business often seems to be in business to fatten its own coffers and those of its executives. A good example is JP Morgan. The LA Times is reporting that JP Morgan has been engaging in “at the edge” practices to manipulate energy markets in California and enrich its profits–at the expense of rate-paying consumers. Another example is Capitol One, who has been ordered to refund boku-amounts of money due to deceptive practices. We’ve seen banks in the UK manipulating the LIBOR, again for their own profit purposes. I don’t think this is a trustworthy track record: giving more money to big business does not result in a better economy.

Then there’s the issue of the tax returns. Romney is refusing to release anything older than 2010. CNN has a good explanation of a possible reason why. In short, we want to see transparency in our president’s finances, for it is a demonstration of their moral and ethical compass. Do they try to exploit the rules to the letter for their own benefit? Do they do what is right? With Romney, we have already seen money in Swiss bank accounts and significant tax dodges, all borderline legal, to avoid paying taxes. Romney’s response is to accuse Obama of croneyism, claiming that Obama makes decisions to benefit donors. I wonder if he has look at Congressional fundraising of late. The question is not whether Obama’s decisions have benefitted donors — people donate to campaigns to elect the candidate that they think works in their interest. The question is whether Obama specifically took an action to benefit a specific donor, and the donation was contingent on that action. That’s croneyism. You give me this; I get you that. I haven’t seen any specific evidence of that surfacing.

Lastly, as a measure of how strange this campaign is getting (and the conventions haven’t even been held yet)…. Romney’s camp is protesting the upcoming Batman movie because the villian’s name is Bane. They claim it will hurt Romney and want it changed.