Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fair And Balanced

Good Lord, Megan McArdle has up yet another article trying to spit-polish Goldman, Sachs's reputation. You'd think someone just called her mother a whore, the way she's leaping to the defense. Did they offer to pay for her wedding, or does she just roll that way?
So the vote on the SEC to bring charges against Goldman broke down by party lines. Liberals, understandably, view this as evidence of malfeasance. But of course, there's an alternative interpretation also consistent with these facts: that Democrats brought a weak charge that won't stand up in court because they thought it would help them push through their bank reform.

Please, McArdle, don't go over the charges and determine their merit to the best of your ability, or research and determine the facts. I know you're dying to go over the issue in detail, but it's not necessary at all. Perhaps you can just consult your social circle. That'll be just as good as research, addressing the argument, and analyzing the facts.
One piece of evidence in favor of this: none of the people I know who are familiar with securities law think that the government has a strong case; the opinions range from "seriously pushing the envelope" to "give me a break."

Excellent! I'm dying to know what the latte-sipping Reason crowd think about this alleged fraud.
And no, these aren't my fat cat friends on Wall Street; they're folks like Economics of Contempt, who has had more than a few harsh words about Republican efforts to stall reform.

I've always found it best to look around the web and read what everyone else is thinking, instead of doing the actual work myself. Life is short, you know, and it's much less time-consuming to report on what others are thinking than to actually do any thinking myself.
It is, of course, entirely possible that I'm missing a lot of top-notch securities lawyers who think the government has a slam dunk.

No! You mean there are experts to consult but you missed them, no doubt while they passed by like a ship in the night. Too bad there was nothing you could do about that, like seek out an expert or do research.
But there's a plausible argument that the government simply demanded too high a settlement, either because it wanted a political coup, or because it just miscalculated.

Please, don't bother going over the argument so we can think for ourselves. We do so enjoy watching you watch others think, and then scampering back to us and telling us what Economics of Contempt or Radley Balko or Felix Salmon think.
Particularly since I think Economics of Contempt is right that Goldman would have been better off settling. On the other hand, now that the lawsuit's been filed, I'm not sure that's still so.

By all means, report on both sides equally and fairly. That way you don't have to figure anything out.
I'm sure they want to avoid another embarrassment like the Fab Tourre email.

Yes, admissions that the CDO you're selling is worthless can be so embarrassing.
But if they settle now, they're guilty. If the government loses, it looks bad, and is less tempted to throw its weight around. If they're willing to endure the bad publicity, they might be better off seeing it through.

She's so even-handed. You'd almost be unable to determine what she actually thinks, and therefore be unable to pin her down later as biased or wrong.
To return to the broader political question, I confess, I'm baffled by the Republican opposition to financial reform; it seems politically stupid, and I'm having a hard time seeing the ideological principals that are motivating it. I mean, I understand the fundraising advantages, but what's the good of having a bunch of money if everyone thinks you're in the pocket of the banks . . . which is, after all, possibly your most effective weapon against Obama? So there's an argument to be made that even if this indictment is a political stunt, it's necessary in the face of intransigent opposition.

Everything is politics. It's not about preventing abuses of the financial system.
But on balance, I do not find that argument convincing. Regulatory agencies should not be in the practice of helping serve the political ends of the party in power, no matter how worthy those ends. In practice, of course, they often do . . . think district attorneys around election time. But we shouldn't encourage it. To the extent that we want to have anything like a working technocracy, we need those institutions to be as independent from politics as possible.

Says the woman who watched and approved as the Republicans removed necessary banking regulations on the behalf of their political contributors, which brought on this disaster.

Also: an interesting article on the Koch fortune, via The Sideshow. Remember how McArdle said that David Koch didn't support the tea partiers and astro-turfers, which she knew because she met him at a cocktail party? Heh.


atat said...

"One piece of evidence in favor of this: none of the people I know[...]"

Classic. Apparently she's just going to use this pathetic excuse for an argument until the day she dies. Does she know that it's a fallacy and just doesn't care (easier than actual research and all that), or is she just really, really stupid? The eternal question.

Susan of Texas said...

It's painful to read her comments--they start off every argument saying that they have no idea if their facts are right, but according to what they already think, blah blah blah.

It's painful to watch so many people in the country fight over who can be the most selfish and blood-thirsty. And they're not just conservatives--democrats don't want anything to change if it means they'll suffer instead of other people.

The middle class is being bled dry to pay for wars and oppression and their own exploitation. And it seems like it'll go on forever.

Clever Pseudonym said...

She doesn't think it's a fallacy because she's a self-absorbed twit who doesn't think the world operates outside of her personal needs and relationships. If it is true for Megan, it is true, full stop. She argues from this standpoint all the time. The fact that she doesn't know anybody who believes something is "evidence."

Anonymous said...

Megan is the moral and mental equivalent of Harold and the Purple Crayon--she draws the world as she walks along, scares herself, loses herself, and finds herself all by simply creating the parameters around her and mistaking them for reality.


Tehanu said...

I'm having a hard time seeing the ideological principals that are motivating it.

There aren't any princiPLES motivating it except the principle of "I've got mine, Jack, so fuck you." The princiPALS motivating it are all Megan's friends -- or rather, the greedy bastards paying her that she thinks are her friends.

Ellis Weiner said...

"Lying, or stupid?" is indeed the eternal question, both w/ Megs and most of the right-wing commentariat.

Her vexation over "principal" is especially poignant. "Principles" is all these glibertarian clowns have--"bravely" held theoretical positions that they work hard to shield from exposure to the real world. And by "real world" I mean, not just the historical and current exploitation of the overwhelming mass of humanity, but the constantly-demonstrated lack of principles of those for whom they shill.