G20 protests in London

G20 protests in London

G20 protests in London. It’s interesting how three groups are on near-equal footing in these image — the protesters, the police, and the photographers. Not only do the scenes have a quality about them of being staged for the photos, but it’s almost like all parties got together with the sole purpose of creating a previously agreed-upon set of images. I realize that sounds cynical, and that the protesters are extremely passionate and the police are doing a very difficult and dangerous job (as are the photographers), but it’s a very difficult feeling to escape with this particular set of images.

It’s SUPPOSED to taste like a shit taco

Remember the “what will the Daily Show do when George W. Bush is out of office?” talk? Well, while making fun of FOX News is not going to be a substitute for making fun of a disastrous president, the above needed to be said. It’ll be no fun listening to variations of it repeated ad nauseam, but it sure is fun to hear it once. The quick summation of GWB’s worst hits is worth the price of admission, and the outrage/gloat tone makes this the Daily Show clip for the time capsule. I hope Jon Stewart doesn’t cave to the Media Watchdog role some are pushing him towards, but, among other things, this clip demonstrates how effective he’d be in that role. If I could pick 6 minutes out of the last year of the Daily Show that every person would get to see, this would be it.

Explaining the banking crisis

At the beginning of last week’s This American Life, Ira Glass suggests that many of us are resigned to not really understanding what’s going on with the financial sector. Then the NPR boys go straight into explaining it, starting in the simplest terms and working up to the global collapse scale. Required. One of the more interesting people in the show is Simon Johnson (a former International Monetary Fund bigshot who’s worked with many other countries fixing exactly this situation), who Terry Gross had an interview that is also very interesting. That should prepare you for the Baseline Scenario post from Johnson’s blog, and all the other jargon-heavy reports you’ll to be encountering.

Update: Spoilers (don’t read on if you’re going to listen to the programs): The amount of debt Americans hold, as a percentage of GDP, typically oscillates between 20 and 50%; at two points in the last century it’s hit 100%: in 1929 and in 2007. So all these people yelling about how banks should lend out the money the US government is giving them are exactly wrong — arguably it was our level of debt that, as much as anything, caused the current crisis.

Johnson believes that the solution is fairly obvious: nationalize the banks. You nationalize, clean up the mess, and re-privatize them. Apparently that’s what the IMF, with the USA’s blessing, has been helping/forcing governments with similar problems do for decades, and it works reasonably well. Also, the US government does it all the time, just on a smaller scale than would be presently required. But were it not for the “obvious” political problems, the IMF would advise us to do exactly that. There’s also the suggestion that — maybe — that’s exactly what the Obama administration quietly is preparing to do.