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Posts Tagged ‘obama

About the complaints on Obama’s interference in Detroit

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The government has no business involving itself in business.

That is the popular refrain you will hear from fiscal conservatives/libertarians and such. Personally, I don’t disagree with the sentiment. Even in these tough times, I believe that the economy is best served by private enterprise with limited interference from the government. Plus, anyone growing up in India through the 70-80’s  observed first hand how governmental involvement creates inefficiency in business  (e.g. land-line phone companies) and how too much red-tapism destroy entrepreneurial spirits (or limits it to a dedicated or privileged few).  So in general, I am all for the government keeping their fingers off private businesses.

Except, when they have a right to it, by virtue of ummmm…….say few billion dollars invested ! I am of course, referring to all the hullabaloo over Obama’s recent sacking of the GM CEO Wagoner. Predictably, a swathe of right-wing bloggers (even some liberal ones) are upset over what they perceive as the administration’s needless meddling. The Corner sums it up thus:

GM is now Obama’ s company. If it closes, it will be on his say-so. But Obama is a politician, not a CEO. So his first concern is to avoid bad political fallout, which means he will prop up the company for as long as it takes, regardless of what makes economic sense.

This is very much on the lines of emotion expressed by Don Boudreaux in an editorial on USA Today earlier this month (he was talking about bank nationalization, but the idea is the same):

Politicians’ incentives differ radically from those of private owners. Few politicians look past the next election or beyond the familiar interest groups whose support is crucial.

(A very typical line that is often parroted by a certain eminent Indian libertarian blogger as well.)

All this is mildly amusing.  I wonder if people writing these stuff have any idea about the irony: Last time I checked, the current financial mess was created not by politicians, but private businesses, or rather the heads of certain private businesses. And the reason it happened is that these CEOs, just like politicians, were looking at short-term incentives – lining their own pockets with bonuses without considering long-term ramifications of their risky investments.

Similar short-sightedness have contributed to the fall of  the Detroit Big 3.  Rather than compete with foreign automakers by designing better vehicles in terms of quality, reliability and fuel-efficiency, they have been content to sit on the sales of poorly made gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks and lobbying to block any legislation that impact fuel efficiency.

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The problem is that the government should not have been involved in this mess at all (although when such a large number of people’s jobs are on the line, it is difficult for a modern government to be hands-off – and remember that while people are blaming Obama, the major bailouts  were passed by the Bush administration). But now that it is involved having paid the dollars, you cannot complain about its involvement, for good or bad.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 31, 2009 at 7:53 am

Obama and Science

with one comment

The election of Barak Obama last night has rightly brought about a whole lot of cheers from the scientific community. I suspect large majority of scientist supported Obama’s candidacy and he was even endorsed by more than seventy Nobel laureates, including this year’s winner in Chemistry. Given the embarrassingly idiotic anti-science stance of his opponent, this was no surprise.

The next question is obviously, how will an Obama administration actually help science ? Noted science writer and blogger Chris Mooney addresses the question in details.

Personally, I am quite pragmatic about any real changes in scientific policy that will directly affect me. Given the budget deficits and the grim economic scenario, I am not expecting a NIH budget-doubling any time soon.

However, what I do find comforting (and I am pretty much echoing most scientists here) is that come January 20th next year, USA will be lead by a person, who is clearly well-educated, has an understanding and respect for science  – shown by his articulate response to SciDebate08 questions – and does not indulge in the anti-intellectual rhetoric of the current administration.

It is also interesting to note that apparently this is the first time in history that both the president and vice-presidents along with their spouses have some connection with higher education.

Taken together, the Obamas and the Bidens have amassed decades of experience at colleges and universities. Mr. Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 until 2004, when he took office in the U.S. Senate. His wife, Michelle, has worked in the administration at the same university and is on leave from her job as vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

The Bidens also have spent considerable time in academe. For the past 17 years, Mr. Biden has taught as an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law. His wife, Jill, is an English instructor at Delaware Technical and Community College’s Stanton-Wilmington campus. (link)

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

November 5, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Politics, Science

Tagged with , ,

Obama wins….

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….the election !

….the earliest votes in Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, N.H. These are the two places in the US where votes are tallied first as per tradition.

As Nate Silver says at 538, this isn’t predictive of even the state’s voting patterns, much less the whole country. But the tiny New Hampshire towns have not voted in favor of a Democrat since 1968,  so  perhaps it is indicative of something (however, if you are looking out for portends, beware that in ’68 the Democrat Hubert Humphrey eventually lost to Richard Nixon)  !

Anyhow, it is the start of an interesting day for the US; voting begins in a few hours on the east coast in the culmination of – if not anything else – certainly the longest democratic process to elect a leader.

And what campaign it has been, starting with the primaries in both parties throwing up the underdog as the candidate, Obama’s message of hope versus McCain’s claims of maverick-ism, the circus over Sarah Palin, the economic shocks – all will hopefully and thankfully come to an end tomorrow (except for the economy which may shock us further still).

Most polls suggest Obama will win, some even suggest a landslide, so Republicans are banking on the fallibility of poll prediction models.

Thankfully, I will be asleep and miss majority of the yakking punditry through the day, by the time I wake up tomorrow morning (Oz time), a clear picture will hopefully have emerged.

[update ~9pm AWDT]: Its showtime ! I reckon polling has begun on the eastern states. And whole world is watching.

[update ~745am AWDT]: As they say down under, G’day mate. Some of the polls are just about to close. Haven’t seen any exit poll results, but given their inaccuracy in 2000 and 2004, would not go by them anyway. Its going to be constant refreshing of fivethirtyeight.com from now on.

The Lord predicts a possible near 400 electoral votes for Obama. Being a bit far away from the action its tough getting a read on the pulse of the election, so I won’t venture any predictions, except that  watching some of the polls leading up to the race tightening up, I would be a bit less optimistic. Lets see in about two hours time.

Voter turnout seems to be in record numbers (for recent history, I suppose) and early voting numbers are huge. Both, and certainly the early voting should favor Obama.

[post coffee]: 538 final projections are Obama 349, McCain 189. Still, some Republican supporters are optimistic. See here and and particularly here, where the guy claims to have ’45 years of experience’ of never  calling wrong on the elections and predicts a McCain landslide!!!!

[830am AWDT]: I mentioned earlier that high voter turnout is usually good news for Democrats . But really it could be either way: the so-called tightening of the polls in the last few days of the elections could enthuse the Republican base to come out in hordes to vote turning the tide towards McCain.

Also regarding this closing gap in the last few days between McCain and Obama, I wonder how much of it is real polling and how much made up by the media ? A landslide victory and early calling of the elections does not earn much viewer time for the TV networks. Of course, the point is moot if you care to beleive the right-wing conspiracy theory of liberal bias in the media, which wants Obama to win. In that case, networks would be all too eager to call it for Obama as soon as possible. Then again, they committed the mistake of calling it early or at least being positive about Kerry in the last two elections.

In short, who knows !

[855am AWDT]: Polls close in battleground states Georgia, Indiana and Virginia in 5 mins, and in about 35mins for Ohio and NC. These will provide an early trend. An Obama win in Virginia and Ohio plus any of the other states pretty much closes the door on McCain. The real clincher however will be Pennsylvania later in the night (10am AWDT).

Going through comments sections of various blogs, mood  seems to be: Democrats are either cautiously optimistic or paranoid about another election ‘stolen’ from them, Republicans are strangely confident of a miracle. Hmmm……

Also, some early exit poll numbers at Gawker. As expected, encouraging for Obama, but again, as expected, Democrats don’t beleive them because they have been burnt before and Republicans just don’t want to beleive them.

[9am AWDT]: Ok, really early returns, being shown live at Yahoo! or NYT website, shows lead for McCain. Yahoo seems to have even called KY for McCain, which is no surprise really. However, with 10% reporting, Obama is trailing only by 4%, while most polls put McCain ahead by about 13% in that state.

Indiana is neck and neck and NH is going Obama, but very early days yet in those states.

[920am]: Again very early results, just a few counties really in FL and VA shows McCain leading. But northern VA results arent in yet, and those should go Obama’s way. IN tilting towards Obama. MeanwhileVT called for Obama. No surprises there.

[945am]: Nothing new. No news from NC or OH. Obama is doing better in IN than Kerry did in ’04. Early voting from rural VA still showing McCain lead.

[1000am]: VA, a supposedly ‘safe’ Dem hold, is not looking good for Obama. With 14% reporting, McCain has a 12% lead. However, Northern VA results are yet to be in, but can Obama make the deficit there ? FL, meanwhile is going big time towards Obama.

CNN has called SC for McCain, but latest results at NYTimes shows Obama leading quite a bit. NC, my ‘home state’ doing well for Obama as well.

[1030am]: Obama doing well in NC and FL. Quite a few rural counties going for Obama in NC, which is surprising. Northern FL counts are not in yet.

Breaking news: Fox called PA for Obama (NBC and MSNBC had called it earlier). That should settle it !

[1100am]: As things stand now, if Obama takes NC and FL along with IN and MO, along with other safe states he will end with 361 electoral votes.Not bad.

Another update: VA race is tightening. According to this site it is a 2% difference with 56% reporting.

[1120am] The gap is closing in VA, only 12000 votes lead for McCain with 65% reporting. And the remaining ones are the northern VA suburbs.So a chance there still.

And, OH has been called for Obama. Its possibly a matter of margins now.

[1140am]: According to the Lord, Fox has pretty much admitted it is Obama’s election. NC is tightening though in favor of McCain, while VA gets closer for Obama (just about 6000 votes).

[1200noon]: To put it impolitely, Obama is kicking ass in PA, no wonder it was called early. With 36% reporting, he is leading by 27% of the votes !Will be interesting to see how many votes he is picking up in the ‘rust belt’.

And for the first time, Obama is actually leading in VA !!!

[1230]: Pretty much certain, that Barack H. Obama will be the next President of the USA. Its just the question of margins.

Obama is behind by 4000 votes and leads by the same number in IN and NC respectively. The lead in VA is increasing. Even if Obama loses in IN and NC, it will be a great showing in states that were overwhelmingly Republican in the last elections. But if he takes them along with NM, NV and perhaps MO (WA, CA, OR, HI etc being given), he will reach 375 electoral votes.

Btw, the NYTimes site is the best place to check the progress of the election results.

[to be updated]

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

November 4, 2008 at 3:08 am