Tag Archives: wall street

Two good books

I recently read two pretty good books that are definitely worth a mention.

Liar’s Poker – Michael Lewis

I have been a Michael Lewis fan ever since I read his “The Big Short” that explained the way several people got rich during the housing-mortgage crash of several years ago. Since then, I have also read “The Blind Side” (which, I think everyone is familiar with via the movie) and “Boomerang,” in which he examines why the economies of countries like Greece, Iceland and Ireland crashed over the past several years.

“Liar’s Poker” was published in the 1980s and, in it, Lewis tells the story of his brief foray into the world of bond trading. As with Lewis’s other books, it is both enlightening and hysterically funny. Lewis has the ability to explain complex issues and be very entertaining at the same time. It’s a good story about some really crazy times.

Kill Shot – Vince Flynn

I’ve enjoyed Flynn’s novels since my cousin turned me on to him several years ago. Flynn’s main protagonist is CIA assassin Mitch Rapp. The books are almost a 21st century American version of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels, but without Bond’s worldly sophistication or Fleming’s sometimes off-the-wall bad guys. Flynn initially wrote 10 Rapp novels that brought the story to the present day. Then for books 11 and 12, Flynn went back in time and wrote two (“American Assassin” and “Kill Shot”) that tell the story of Rapp’s recruitment, training and his first few assignments.

Flynn novels are pure adventure. There isn’t a subtle bone in his protagonist’s body. There are the good guys and the bad guys, and very little in between. Rapp is one of the good guys, and his stories pit him against his obvious enemies, usually Islamic terrorists, and sometimes the not so obvious — like American politicians.  And in Rapp’s world, the bad guys almost always get what they deserve.

In “Kill Shot,” Flynn tells the story of one of Rapp’s early “hits” that went bad and all the subsequent fall-out.

Flynn doesn’t write an intricate, slowly developing story like a Fredrick Forsyth.  But his novels are exciting, fun and difficult to put down. “Kill Shot” and the rest of Vince Flynn’s books won’t be remembered as great literature, but they sure an entertaining read.

$500 Bonus Babies

I now see where Congress is considering giving $500 to every baby born. The idea is to start them on a savings account.

Happy BabyThat is lovely. Why stop with babies? Why not just give everyone $500, or $1,000 or $1 million? It’s just money, right?  If you can give billions to bankers and investment firms, why not babies? Everyone loves babies!

Here is one  reason. It’s not like we — that is the US government/taxpayers — have a bunch of loose change lying around just waiting for someone to spend it. We are borrowing money from China and other countries to pay for the financial fiasco the Brainiacs on Wall Street got us into last year, not to mention the ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. So we borrow more money from China (over $3B/yr) to pay people to have babies. Yeah, this is a real good idea. Let’s just give money away —  money we don’t have — money we have to borrow, mostly from people who don’t like us and want to own us.

Do you ever get the feeling that your Congressmen are just taking your money, then giving it back to you and making it look like it’s a gift? Hello! It was your money to start with, or China’s or whoever. Actually, when you think about it, it may not be “your money,” depending on who you are. When you consider that roughly half the people in the US don’t pay any income tax to begin with, you can see that “spread the wealth around” idea in play. Take money from those who have more of it and give it to those who have less.

I think a big reason Congress is considering the bill is that as long as they can be seen as giving money to their constituents, they will get votes. How many voters really care where it comes from?

Here is a famous quote from Alexis de Tocquiville to think about.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

I think Congress discovered that a long time ago.

That’s my rant for the day. Sorry.