U.S. Is Said to Agree to Raise Stake in Citigroup

News Alert: U.S. Is Said to Agree to Raise Stake in Citigroup From the NYT.

Why? Why? Why?

Why can’t we just let these ‘big’ banks die? Are the Treasury officials afraid that their friends won’t talk to them any more if their friends lose their shirts and pants and West Side condos? There are a lot of fiscally sound banks out there that can pick up the credit load and remove the credit crunch problem, especially with several hundred billions of support from the Fed. Problem is that they are more ‘Main Street’ banks than ‘Wall Street’ banks.

Providing Citigroup with an additional influx of cash won’t help the credit crunch. All they are going to do is pay off their losses which won’t leave enough for lending to anyone.

Let Them Die!

How to replace a Senator

Much has been made recently of Governors replacing Senators who have been asked to serve the new administration. And Feingold has proposed an amendment that would require a special election to fill a vacant Senate seat as soon as possible. (read the rest of the article I linked to at 538. It talks about what methods the various states use today)

Why not go back to the original Senatorial appointment method and let the state legislature fill the vacant seat and let the citizens elect a replacement in the next general election. This reduces the chance for ‘pay to play’ corruption, allows the new Senator to be a consensus choice of the people’s representatives, and saves some taxpayer money by eliminating the need for a special election.

Of course this might make horse-trading Senate replacements more difficult since it can’t be guaranteed that the replacement will be of the party or persuasion you might want.

What to Photograph

via Boing-Boing

The very idea that the police may come up to me and take away my camera, or otherwise impede my taking photos in a public place, fills me with concern and a sense of dread. Given the actions of Transit Police in NY to someone taking photos for an Amtrak Photo Contest and other recent police transgressions there is cause to worry. And it all comes down to a someone thinking that they are authorized to harass and harangue a citizen acting in a manner they think is inappropriate. What do they call them now? “Mall Cops?”

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has developed a CompactFlash card that can transmit data to a nearby card/flash disk – using bluetooth or something similar – rather than storing the data on the CF card itself. (My camera uses a CF card for memory.) Thus if someone takes my camera (police or thief) the pictures I have been taking will be stored safely somewhere else.

I suppose if a travelling companion had a receiver card as well, we could have redundant backup storage.  Probably want to protect the transmission so I don’t recieve someone else’s photos in addition to mine or vice versa.

A quick google of ‘Compact Flash bluetooth’ indicates that there is something out there. Whether it does what I want needs to be seen.

Who does What?

Why do legislators keep getting tapped for running departments and agencies? Aside from the fact that the legislator was elected by their fellow citizens to represent them or their state in the legislature; the legislator doesn’t have executive or administrative skills by virtue of being a legislator. A legislator says “This is WHAT we want to happen.” An executive says “This is HOW we will make it happen.”

(This is what I perceive as the problem with the parliamentary system.)

Look at Daschle, in the legislature for umpteen years and doesn’t know how to track taxable income. Because he thinks WHAT and not HOW.

Why doesn’t the incoming Executive go after executives to run his departments – Governors, administrators, CEOs, people who think of HOW they can make something happen.  He’s got a few, I hope they do well.

One last thought, The President is not King, The President is not King. The People are King, The People are King.

Capital Gains

Capital Gains Tax.

I would like to see the Capital Gains Tax, as applied to stocks and bonds, modified a bit. Specifically, I would like to address investment profits derived from securities subject to regulation/control by the SEC.

If you invest in a stock/bond/security and later sell it for a profit you pay a tax on the difference between your purchase price and your selling price – your Capital Gain. In and of itself, that’s fine. But, if you are selling one stock in order to buy or invest in another stock, you pay the Capital Gain tax on your profit and only have the remainder to invest in the new stock. You haven’t taken the profits and used them in the non-security world and you have less to invest in a new security. I would like to remove the Capital Gains Tax on security sales where the proceeds are directly applied to the purchase of another security. You are only taxed on the proceeds you take out of the security marketplace.

I think this would encourage, indeed stimulate, investment in new potential industries and encourage people to move their investments around. I find it sometimes isn’t worth contemplating moving investment money around when you know you will be paying a 15% – 20% – 30% tax on the proceeds. So it sits, slowly not growing. I may take other money and invest it in the new industry I think will be growing but the older money stays where it is, stuck until it is needed. The newer industry doesn’t get the boost it might with more capital investment and then good things don’t happen.

To train or not to train…

I am looking at going to Montreal this summer and decided to see what it would take to train my way there.

Basically, it takes time.

I looked at two different route options: DEN to MTR via TOR or via ALB.

For your consideration.

Train Trip to Montreal via Toronto
DEP City City ARR Train Time Layover Time Trip Day
2010 DEN CHI 1550 19:40 5:50 DAY 1-2
2200 CHI BUF-depew 930 11:30 5:30 DAY 2-3
1456 BUF-depew TOR 1937 4:40 16:00 DAY 3
1135 TOR MTR 1704 5:30 DAY 4
DEP City City ARR Train Time Layover Time Trip Day
1805 MTR TOR 2326 5:21 9:00 DAY 1
830 TOR BUF-depew 1325 5:05 10:30 DAY 2
2355 BUF-Depew CHI 945 9:50 4:15 DAY 2-3
1400 CHI DEN 715 17:15 DAY 3-4
Train Trip to Montreal Via Albany
DEP City City ARR Train Time Layover Time Trip Day
2010 DEN CHI 1550 19:40 5:50 DAY 1-2
2200 CHI ALB 1540 17:40 19:25 DAY 2-3
1105 ALB MTR 1910 8:05 DAY 4
DEP City City ARR Train Time Layover Time Trip Day
930 MTR ALB 1740 8:10 1:35 DAY 1
1905 ALB CHI 945 14:40 4:15 DAY 1-2
1400 CHI DEN 715 17:15 DAY 2-3

No matter which way you go, you will need to overnight in either Toronto or Albany.

So the Optimal way to train it seems to be go via Toronto. That is a nice city to visit plus there are a number of TOR-MTR trains to choose from if you don’t want to catch the 1135. I I actually ignored some earlier trains so I could sleep in.

And Return via Albany, where the are minimal layover times and you can get back to Denver in three days.

We to the Rescue

Reading Krugman today, he raises some concerns about Us, the people, bailing out the banking system without getting an ownership stake in the banking system.

My response to this prospect is: so? If taxpayers are footing the bill
for rescuing the banks, why shouldn’t they get ownership, at least
until private buyers can be found? But the Obama administration appears
to be tying itself in knots to avoid this outcome.

There are two good approaches I have heard about in regard to the bailout.

One is to create a parallel banking system to the current one that will handle the ‘credit crunch’ everyone is worried about. Let the existing banking system fail and then sell the new banking system to investors to recoup the people’s investment (and maybe make a profit.)

The second addresses the mortgage morass. The People can look at and underwrite all outstanding mortgages (I would only do this for primary residences and not for investment properties.) Basically, we look the current mortgagee’s ability to pay on their mortgage. If they have a $750K mortgage and can only make payments on a $500K mortgage, we would step in and take over the $250K difference. In exchange, when the owner sells the house we would our $250K plus interest and 1/3 of the profit (if any). (I am assuming that the current owner may hold on to the property until the market rebounds and the house is once again worth more the $750K) This allows the mortgagee to keep a house at a price they can afford, maintains the mortgages underlying the mortgage bond market, hopefully stops the mounting pile of foreclosures, and steadies the financial foundations that are crumbling away.