Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Investment Banking Explained

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry Chuck, but I have some bad news. The donkey died.'"

Chuck replied, "Well then, just give me my money back."
The farmer said," 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already."
Chuck said, "OK, then, just bring me the dead donkey."
The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with a dead donkey?"
Chuck said, "I'm going to raffle him off."
The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead donkey!"
Chuck said, "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?" Chuck said, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $898.00."

The farmer said, "Didn't anyone complain?" Chuck said, "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."

Chuck now works for Morgan Stanley.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hate the Sin, Tax the Sinner?

Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Instute recently penned a great piece for the American Enterprise Institute on the popularity of "sin taxes."

The sin tax seems like a convenient ploy when the state is searching for new sources of revenue in fiscally tight times. A sin tax also appeals to some voters who view it as a way of discouraging consumption of certain objectionable products. Yet the temptation to impose sin taxes is one that should be resisted for economic and moral reasons. The consequences of the sin tax are often the very opposite of those intended by its designers. Rather than increasing revenue, the sin tax can reduce it. Rather than discouraging what are regarded as morally questionable behaviors, the sin tax can make them more appealing. Rather than reducing what are perceived to be internal costs of the sin, the sin tax can increase them and expand them to society as a whole.
Read the entire article here.

The National Debt Road Trip

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Financial Mess - The Real Deal

Okay, I've seen enough chain letters discussing the cause of our economic woes, and they're all incorrect, so I figured it was time to write one that addressed the real issues. I've written this in plain English and have taken out any technical mumbo-jumbo so people will be able to understand it clearly. So, even though I will be leaving out some details everything in this message will be fundamentally true.

Okay, if you want to understand the problem we have with money in this country, you're going to have to understand 3 things:

1. Who makes our money.
2. How money comes into existence.
3. Inflation is nothing but a tax.

Continue reading...

Obama at Notre Dame

In today's Wall Street Journal opinion column, there is a great article on how Obama scored big at Notre Dame with his involvement with the graduation and commencement exercises.

Seldom does dawn rise on an America where the morning's New York Times displays a more intuitive grasp of a story than the New York Post. The coverage of Barack Obama's commencement address at Notre Dame, however, was such a day. Where the Post headlined an inside spread with "Obama In the Lions' Den," the Times front page was dominated by a color photograph of a beaming president, resplendent in his blue-and-gold Notre Dame academic gown, reaching out to graduates eager to shake his hand or just touch his robe.

It was precisely the message President Obama wanted to send: How bad can he be on abortion if Notre Dame is willing to honor him?

We cannot blame the president for this one. During his campaign for president, Mr. Obama spoke honestly about the aggressive pro-choice agenda he intended to pursue -- as he assured Planned Parenthood, he was "about playing offense," not defense -- and his actions have been consistent with that pledge. If only our nation's premier Catholic university were as forthright in advancing its principles as Mr. Obama has been for his.

In a letter to Notre Dame's Class of 2009, the university's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, stated that the honors for Mr. Obama do not indicate any "ambiguity" about Notre Dame's commitment to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life. The reality is that it was this ambiguity that the White House was counting on; this ambiguity that was furthered by the adoring reaction to Mr. Obama's visit; and this ambiguity that disheartens those working for an America that respects the dignity of life inside the womb.

We've been here before. In his response to an inquiry from this reporter, Dennis Brown, the university's spokesman, wisely ignored a question asking whether "ambiguity" would be the word to describe a similar decision in 1984 to give Mario Cuomo, then governor of New York, the Notre Dame platform he so famously used to advance his personally-opposed-but argument. Or the decision a few years later to bestow its highest Catholic award on Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, another supporter of legal abortion. It seems that whenever Democratic leaders find themselves in trouble over their party's abortion record, some Notre Dame honor or platform will be forthcoming to provide the needed cover.

Probably Notre Dame is rich enough that it can safely thumb its institutional nose at the 70 or so bishops who publicly challenged the university for flouting their guidelines on such invitations. Nor can we expect much from Notre Dame's trustees. At a time when Americans all across this country have declared themselves "yea" or "nay" on the Obama invite, the reaction of Notre Dame's board is less the roar of the lion than the silence of the lambs.

Pro-lifers are used to this. They know their stand makes them unglamorous. They find themselves a stumbling block to Democratic progressives -- and unwelcome at the Republican country club. And they are especially desperate for the support of institutions willing to engage in the clear, thoughtful and unembarrassed way that even Mr. Obama says we should.

With its billions in endowment and its prestigious name, Notre Dame ought to be in the lead here. But when asked for examples illuminating the university's unambiguous support for unborn life, Mr. Brown could provide only four: help for pregnant students who want to carry their babies to term, student volunteer work for pregnant women at local shelters, prayer mentions at campus Masses, and lectures such as a seminar on life issues.

These are all well and good, but they also highlight the poverty of Notre Dame's institutional witness. At Notre Dame today, there is no pro-life organization -- in size, in funding, in prestige -- that compares with the many centers, institutes and so forth dedicated to other important issues ranging from peace and justice to protecting the environment. Perhaps this explains why a number of pro-life professors tell me they must not be quoted by name, lest they face career retaliation.

The one institute that does put the culture of life at the heart of its work, moreover -- the Center for Ethics and Culture -- doesn't even merit a link under the "Faith and Service" section on the university's Web site. The point is this: When Notre Dame doesn't dress for the game, the field is left to those like Randall Terry who create a spectacle and declare their contempt for civil and respectful witness.

In the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, there is a wonderful photograph of Father Ted Hesburgh -- then Notre Dame president -- linking hands with Martin Luther King Jr. at a 1964 civil-rights rally at Chicago's Soldier Field. Today, nearly four decades and 50 million abortions after Roe v. Wade, there is no photograph of similar prominence of any Notre Dame president taking a lead at any of the annual marches for life.

Father Jenkins is right: That's not ambiguity. That's a statement.
How true it is.

Sunday, May 17, 2009