Off to meet the chancellor of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr. From our July-August issue.
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First, we learned that prudence in finance is never out of date. Prudence in the way we manage our finances as a nation and as families is simply never a bad idea. That means not overspending, not undersaving.
Second, we learned—again—that man is a greedy animal. If left to his own devices, he will steal. Man is also a hypocritical animal. If left to his own devices, he will steal and he will lie about it.
What we really had in the period 2002–2006 was a time of colossal fraud about corporate earnings and values. If the true liabilities of banks and insurers had been known, if a truly appropriate reserve had been taken at financial entities for the likelihood of default, we would have had far lower stock prices and less for them to fall.
If the truth had been told to potential borrowers and lenders about the likelihood of defaults, we would have had far less risky borrowing and lending. This would have led to a far more modest housing boom and a far smaller bust.
Third, it’s very risky to create financial instruments that have the power to destroy the whole world. Warren E. Buffett called derivatives “financial instruments of mass destruction” and I think he’s given a good description.
But we also had a booby-trapped system in which if one small part, sub-prime mortgages, were detonated, they would set off a chain reaction that would blow up all matter.
It was only very timely work by Mr. Bernanke that saved us.
Finally, we learned the limits of selfishness. Laissez-faire is great. Individual initiative and ambition are great. But there has to be some force controlling them and countervailing them. We have cut back so much on regulation and on private securities law enforcement that the financiers basically were on the playground without supervision—with nuclear weapons. Not good.
Well, just a few thoughts. Of course, as always, the real stars are in Ramadi and Tikrit and Mosul and Baghdad and Fallujah and the Panjshir Valley and Kabul—and more real stars are taking care of their families and their wounds at Walter Reed and Bethesda and all over the world. There is a lot to be said for the ordinary people whose work is caring and not making money.
Oh, by the way, I got a chance to think about this for some time because coming in from Malibu to Beverly Hills, usually a journey of one hour, took more than two hours because Mr. Obama has brought himself and his entourage to my little neighborhood of Beverly Hills. To show his solidarity with the people here who have lost jobs and homes in the Recession, Mr. Obama is attending a Democratic Party fundraiser. The tickets are $30,000 a couple. Yes. That is not a misprint.
Mr. Obama’s motorcade is messing up traffic, but then that’s not his problem. Gods do not worry about traffic.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?