Archive for February 13th, 2010

How was public money used to prop up financial institutions?

| February 13, 2010 | 1 Reply
How was public money used to prop up financial institutions?

The quick answer is that we don’t know. This is unbelievable, given that public tax money was used. As reported by the NYT, lawsuits brought by Bloomberg and FOX, as well as an Congressional effort to audit the Federal Reserve seek answers to these questions:

Who got money from the Fed? How much did they get? In exchange for what collateral? And under what terms?

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Would a king from the Middle Ages willingly swap lives with an average American?

| February 13, 2010 | 7 Replies
Would a king from the Middle Ages willingly swap lives with an average American?

Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to be a great and powerful king from the Middle Ages. I’m talking about kingly kings—those who would be deemed successful by other kings. If you were one of those top 25 percentile kings, just think of all the people waiting on you, and imagine all of your privileges, including your own court jester to entertain you, and lots of soldiers that you can use to expand or defend your territory. You would get to live in a beautiful big castle, and people from all around would seek your attention and bestow complements and gifts upon you and your family. Some of those visitors would come from far away and they would tell you stories from distant lands. If you got sick, the wisest doctor in the area would come to your service to give you the best health care available in the Middle Ages. Could there possibly be a better way to live than being a successful king?

I then wonder how being a king would compare to living the life of an average American in modern times. Consider that the median household income for an American family in the year 2007 was about $50,000, and that this can buy you a lot of things. The average American has access to foods from all around the world by visiting the local grocery store. American families typically own automobiles that can go much faster and much farther than the horse of any king. The average American can use a television or computer to hear news from anywhere in the world. Using the Internet, the average American has a “library” thousands of times bigger than the library of any king. Americans don’t have to imagine what it would be like to walk on the moon. They have photos and movies of people walking on the moon. They don’t have to wonder what Mars looks like, because they have king-in-mini-cooperstunning photos. They don’t have to wonder what stars actually are, or how big the universe is — they have scientific answers to these questions and answers to many other questions that Kings wouldn’t even know how to ask. The average American family has the option to stare at a large colorful television screen in their own home in order to be entertained by images and sounds that could not even be imagined by a king. When Americans get sick, they can go to hospitals that offer them stunningly effective cures for many maladies. The houses of average Americans are always kept warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A couple times each year, many Americans get to step into large silver machines that fly them to faraway places, traveling hundreds of miles per hour, where they capture incredible images with digital cameras. And then they share them with their Facebook kingdoms of hundreds of “friends.” You get the idea.

Now let’s assume that you could transport a Middle Ages king to modern times, and let him live the lifestyle of an average American for a few weeks. Here’s my opinion of what would happen:

[more . . . ]

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