Cicero, Unemployment & Porn

In 55 B.C. Cicero (reportedly) said “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance”. You go Cicero!

March’s unemployment statistics were released this past Friday. Another 663,000 people lost their jobs last month, bringing the total job loss for the 1st quarter of 2009 to 2 million. Reported unemployment now stands at 8.5%. In related news the American Bankers Association reported an increase in late loan payments. Really, people aren’t working and loan payments are being made late – go figure.

A bunch of guys wearing short sleeved polyester shirts have figured out how to stop everyone from elderly grandmothers to children at airports from bringing toiletries and juice boxes on planes, but we can’t figure out how to fix this economic mess.

At least a dozen large law firms have laid off staff, including attorneys. The profit per partner at these firms is in excess of $1 million, yet the times allow to disrupt the lives of families and place people on the Government dole.

Companies aren’t making decisions. They are not hiring needed staff or making investments in critical assets. Consumers aren’t spending either because they fear they may be next on the unemployment roster. This week I know of two more peers who lost their senior level jobs.

What will fix this mess? People will take action when the fear of inaction becomes too great to withstand. It won’t be the Government telling us that some statistic has improved, a change in monetary policy, an increase in the stock market, or some other quantitative fact. The paralysis will stop when the continued fear of doing something outweighs the fear of doing nothing!

On a similar topic and one I write about often, Secretary Geithner still hasn’t disclosed all of the details about how the now named Public Private Investment Plan (“PPIP”) will work, nor do we know how the remainder of TARP will work, or any of the other free money programs being discussed. I can only imagine how they’ll resolve the various conflicts of interest that exist in managing the PPIP.

Finally, as you know I am against giving the Government the ability to takeover any company it pleases. In a similar vein – i.e., rights of the people – students at the University of Maryland wanted to show a porno movie on campus. A Maryland legislator was less than enthusiastic about this action and wanted to submit a budget amendment that would have a public university forfeit state funding if it showed a pornographic movie on campus. In the case of U of MD, this amounted to $424 million.

Don’t legislators have anything better to do. Public funds were not being used to show this movie. If someone doesn’t want to see a porno movie, then don’t see it. What’s next, no funding if a movie has violence or bad words. C’mon, where is some good old common sense.

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