Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Winter Break!

I’m enjoying a vacation from CAC for a little bit, but the following stories came across my desk and I thought they were worthy of some commentary:

On December 7th, the Detroit Free Press reported the death of Amway co-founder Jay Van Andel. The Press reported Van Andel’s support for conservatism.

The company also has been controversial because of its almost evangelical zeal in promoting free enterprise, and gained attention with DeVos' and Van Andel's high-profile participation in Republican politics . . . [Van Andel] chaired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was a trustee of the Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute, Hillsdale College and the Advisory Council for American Private Education.
A businessman willing to defend free enterprise? Sounds like a great thing, right? The trouble is, Van Andel’s supported conservatism.

Much of Van Andel's giving went toward Christian causes, including a creation research station in rural Arizona that sought to prove the world was made in a week.
So Van Andel was willing to pay a team of idiots to confirm the cosmology of a bunch of sheep-herders. And what do you think the chances are that these "researchers" are going to report information that proves to the contrary?

And the defense of the free markets rests here. Brilliant.

On December 10th, the AP reported that the Center for Individual Rights is filing a class action suit for the victims of the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies.

The motion was filed Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan in Detroit. It seeks $1 for the nonminority students whose applications were rejected between 1995 and 2003 and asks the university to refund their application fees.
The lawyers also are asking the school to reimburse some of those students who may have attended a more expensive school after being rejected by Michigan and to compensate them for emotional distress, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Developing . . .

The Toronto Star notes that the right has been conspicuously quite about New York attorney-general Eliot Spitzer’s run for governor of New York in 2006 (and by implication, his 2012 run for president).

[W]hile Spitzer's designs on Albany were front-page news in the leading business dailies of Britain and Canada this week, they scarcely attracted notice in Gotham.

Even The Wall Street Journal, whose editorial page has vilified Spitzer as a job-killing publicity hound and sworn enemy of capitalism, joined The New York Times in burying the story Wednesday.

At least on the part of his enemies in the "vast right-wing conspiracy," as Hillary Clinton first dubbed the conservative media-GOP juggernaut in 1998, this indifference to Spitzer's latest move is strategically unwise. The time to stop Spitzer is before he gets to Albany.
Indeed. But that would take a moral argument that defends bussnessmen, something the vast right-wing conspiracy isn’t particularly good at.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairman Donald E. Powell is on a mission to save capitalism. Consider the following:

Powell told students that as they prepare to teach school, enter scientific research or the business world place they "need to be prepared to distinguish between what is right and wrong."

Distinguishing between the two "will not take place in your mind. The battle between good and evil, right and wrong will be conducted in your heart. So, above all else, guard your heart, for therein lies the wellspring of life." Powell said.

He said a breakdown in public integrity throughout many bedrock American institutions has caused the free enterprise system that made the United States a world leader to be "on trial" and "under question" today.

Scandals in business, media, education, and government "have unsettled the very nature of this nation's soul," Powell said.

He said "making money, making profit, is not evil, because without it there is not much public good that you and I can enjoy. It's the abuse of money and the love of money that we need to distinguish.

"It's very important," Powell added, "that you defend the capitalistic way of life and also the rule of law." [AP]
Let us not forget that at heart, Powell is a regulator. I found this line in a speech he gave this fall before the Florida Bankers Association:

[W]e regulators have a role to play, too. We must ensure that we are competent, we are efficient, we are responsive and we are organized to address and deal with the challenges the marketplace will throw at us. This underscores a fundamental philosophy of mine. The marketplace should decide how the business of providing financial services evolves. The regulators should work to make sure this evolution takes place in a way that protects the public's interest in a safe and stable financial system.
Ah, yes, the regulators—the real judges of the marketplace’s conduct. Heaven save us from Powell’s kind of capitalism.

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