A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wall Street and the government bailouts

I have no problem with the government buying bad debt. There are things that the government can and should do that the market cannot, particularly when it comes to the well being of citizens. The government is placed in the position of authority, given oversight into the affairs of its people.

Markets are well-suited to carrying out the specifics of what has to be done, but they are not good overseers of the public welfare. Businesses generally have one goal: to make money. Serving the public is the way they're supposed to make money. If you give them leeway they'll screw over the public in order to make more money. They do it every single time. So my idea of a good bailout bill for the government? Buy out the loans to the banks so people are allowed to stay in their homes without allowing the banks to collect on the exorbitant interest rates that are forcing people out of their homes in the first place. There's no reason to reward the banking industry for its predatory lending practices.

I've said it before and I have no doubt I'll say it again: regulation is the key to a healthy economy. I know that businesses chafe under government rules, because there's so much more money they could be making without it. Cutting corners, disregarding safety measures and predatory business practices are all time-honored methods of maximizing profits. While businesses are more successful when they take the long view in serving the public good, that never stops the entrepreneur who is more focused on the bottom line. The amount of damage such businesses can do often have repercussions that last a generation or more. It is not enough to sit back and passively allow the market to "correct itself," because we'll all starve before that happens. We must take an active role in keeping our markets honest and ensuring fair businesses practices across the board.

I do not favor using the government as a bludgeon to punish businesses. We need businesses to flourish. What we do not need is deregulated businesses, particularly when we have historical examples like the Great Depression to help us figure out what can go wrong. When the government abdicates its responsibility to perform oversight, it's the people who suffer.

Sorry for ranting, but I feel better now.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Is Linux a threat to Vista?

I followed a link entitled Is Linux the greatest threat to Windows Vista? The author makes some interesting comments, but falls into the typical trap of assuming that since the Linux architecture is superior to Windows that Linux must automatically succeed. Sadly, nothing could be farther than the truth.

While I want to agree with the author here, honesty compels me to disagree. Too many people are propagating FUD about Linux, particularly about it not being ready for prime time. Whenever a user has to open a terminal session in order to fix something, they cry out that Linux Just Isn't Ready. Whenever anything doesn't "just work" the way they demand, they cry out that Linux Just Isn't Ready. Whenever their favorite software package isn't offered for Linux, they cry out that Linux Just Isn't Ready.

Microsoft has done an excellent job of seeding the community with FUD, and the Linux community has a lot of work ahead of it in order to counter that. You and I may know that there's very little difference in terms of the amount of work necessary to get Windows and Linux up and running, but our opinion is in the minority.

There is no such thing as the Perfect operating system. No Linux distribution is 100% glitch-free or guaranteed to work 100% for users determined to be ignorant. Windows, even XP at its most stable, requires a great deal of tweaking and installing before users can do what they want with it, but since much of that is done for them when they buy it from the shop they carry that expectation over to Linux when they try it. That's why it's so vitally important to support vendor-installed Linux initiatives from companies like Dell, HP and Lenovo. The more people come to learn that Linux Just Works the way they've come to expect from Windows, the more Linux will gain market share.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What the Phoenix New Times thinks of John McCain

Hmm...reading an article from a local newspaper in McCain's constituency, I'm finding a lot of interesting tidbits.

Those who survive will be the sociopaths who can tell a lie with the most sincere, straight face. You are especially adept at this.

A man of integrity.

No one forgets that Glenn was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. You won't let anyone forget that you were a prisoner of war. But you have played that tune too long. By now your constant reminders about your war record make you seem like a modern version of Arthur Miller's tragic failure Willy Loman.

But he doesn't like to talk about his days as a POW.  He doesn't try to use it for political capital.

Just keep telling everyone that it was your wife's money invested in that shopping center with Keating and that you knew nothing about it.

A man of change.  Lots of change.  Change for a five, a ten, even a hundred.

Maybe the voters will understand you took those tiring trips to Charlie's place in the Bahamas in their behalf. Certainly, they can understand you wanted to take your family along. A senator deserves to travel on private jets, removed from the awful crush of public transportation.

Truly, a man of the people.

You're John McCain, clearly the guiltiest, most culpable and reprehensible of the Keating Five. But you know the power of television and you realize this is the only way you can possibly save your political career.

Bear in mind, these statements were made in 1989.