Goldman Sachs Round Up

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As I mentioned in class, as the Senate Hearings continue this week is producing a range of opinions.

David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the NewYork Times, sees a typical story of dumb politicians:

First, as is traditional in our culture, the elected leaders of the clueless establishment have summoned the leaders of Goldman Sachs to a hearing so they can have a post-hoc televised conniption fit on the amorality of Wall Street.

Paul Krugman, now considered  a progressive, but I am old enough to remember him being disliked by the left for arguing for free trade back in the 1990s, is reliably more focused on economics in “Looters in Loafers.”

We’ve known for some time that Goldman Sachs and other firms marketed mortgage-backed securities even as they sought to make profits by betting that such securities would plunge in value. This practice, however, while arguably reprehensible, wasn’t illegal. But now the S.E.C. is charging that Goldman created and marketed securities that were deliberately designed to fail, so that an important client could make money off that failure. That’s what I would call looting.

Part of his article relies on the investigative reporting of ProPublica on Magnetar, a hedge fund that modeled much of what Goldman Sachs is accused by the SEC of doing, as presented in this podcast: Inside Job.

For a more comprehensive overview, here is our friend Bethany McLean (here on the Daily show) (of the Smartest Guys in the Room) on the Goldman Sachs story:

That is, there are no good guys here. It’s dishonest and ultimately dangerous to pretend that Goldman is the only bad actor. And the worst actor of all is the one leading the charge against Goldman: our government.

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What exactly is Gibberish?  Well, to start off, it’s not that.

Gibberish actually is based upon fundamental rules.  Who knew?!?!?!

Before I enlighten you as to how to speak Gibberish, let me tell you how my weird mind works.  I was sitting at my computer one foggy day unsure what I wanted to blog about.  Ignoring Jordi’s rule of not using Google and Wikipedia and whatever else it is, I went to google.com.  With no ideas as to what to write, I struck multiple keys on the keyboard, forming an incoherent phrase in the search box.  Suddenly, it came to me.  Jibberish!  (Yes, I know I have been inconsistent with my spelling of the world, but this is how I thought it was spelled at the time before I did some thorough research.)

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Health Care a Right or a Privilege?

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Health care reform had to face many obstacles before it got passed. In this post, I will argue why I believe health care is extremely important for the American society and why government should have the responsability to take care of its citizens.

It is crucial to bear in  mind that without free health care less favored groups will not  have access. It is extremely difficult for someone with a low income to pay the high costs of medicines and hospital care. In America everything related to health is very expensive; I can recall from personal experience. A few years ago I was severely injured in a car accident, my bill surpassed the half million dollar mark. If I hadn’t been insured I’d still be paying now for the costs. As Jordi post mentions, 45,000 American people die each year because they are not insured. The government has the power to decrease that number and save thousands of lives. The health care system needed to have these changes to benefit society as a whole, instead of only the people who could afford it.
I believe health is a right, not a privileged. As a matter of fact the United Nations Bill of Rights in its third article says: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” How can we guarantee life if medical attention is only a privileged for those who can pay for it?
On the other hand, in a way the fact that health care is proportional to your income makes sense since those who have more should pay more and at the same time get the type of attention they prefer. However, since health is a right it should be the government’s responsibility; it should be free for all. People pay taxes, therefore, they deserve services, including health.

It will be a hard transition for the American people to change their current medical systems. Nevertheless, I think it is going towards the right direction. Free health care is a right we should all fight for.

Throwing in the Towel…

The United States ranks #1 in charitable giving in the world, both in terms of dollars and percentage of GDP.  In 2008, Americans gave over $300 billion, much of which went to other countries.  Most recent in our minds are the relief efforts for the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and Hurricane Katrina.  We have donated billions to help these countries rebuild and recover from these disasters.  I, and I would assume most people, find these events tragic.  However, I don’t believe that our country, or Americans, or anyone should be donating billions of dollars to help these people.

There simply isn’t enough money available to truly help these people.  Even our hundreds of billions of dollars every year is but a drop in the bucket, a band aid on a bullet wound.  We must allocate our finite resources where they will make the biggest difference, even if it means that today we must make a difficult sacrifice.  Many undeveloped countries are nothing more than collections of famine, disease, and poverty.  And have roots that go deeper than money.

If we can shed this dead weight weighing us all down, holding us all back, we would be free, free to solve tomorrow’s problems rather than yesterday’s.  I think we are at a fork in the road, so to speak.  We must decide if we are going to forfeit tomorrow to drag the rest of the world along, or, instead, take our first steps forward as a new people, with the memories of the old in our minds and their sacrifice in our hearts.

Legalizing America’s Number One Cash Crop

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DISCLAIMER: I apologize for how long this is… I have written at length in the past about this topic and am passionate about it.  And, no, I am not a pothead — I simply do not believe in governmental inanity, and this is one of the greatest misrepresentation of American laws in the history of our country.

One of every two Americans has smoked marijuana at least once in their life. Moreover, it is estimated more than 20 million Americans have at least once within the last year.  The overwhelming majority of these users did not go on to become regular marijuana users, try other illicit drugs, or suffer any harmful effects to their health. So who cares? Well, it is a growing issue in both Congress and in society. Should the entire United States, much like some areas of many individual states already have, decriminalize the possession and regulated use of marijuana?

Much to the dismay of anti-marijuana advocates and misinformed high school health teachers, there is a wealth of scientific, as well as social, evidence pointing in the direction of the substance’s decriminalization having a positive outcome.  If marijuana is decriminalized, there is a broad list of social and scientific benefits borne by its legality. Obviously, strict policy restraining a completely unregulated use of marijuana would be necessary, including an age limit. In the most ideal sense, marijuana would be sold much in the same way as alcohol is currently distributed. Marijuana would only be legal for those ages 21 or over, and it would be illegal for minors to produce, purchase, transport, furnish, or use. Secondly, it would only be sold in “state” stores in small amounts, and it would be illegal to produce or sell without proper licensing.  Being psychedelically enhanced in public or driving while under the influence would also still be illegal. Continue reading

The Lost Art of Travel

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Note: This post is still not complete, although it continues to grow. I will complete tomorrow and add pictures and links as I see fit. I encourage clicking on all the links, it will expand your knowledge.

The age of air travel and the on-the-go mindset have led us astray. As a society, and I’m guilty of this as well, we value the destination far more than the journey itself. 2 months ago, I would have said that the destination of any endeavor is the most important, that the results of one’s actions or journey is all that counts. I was wrong. Spring break is to thank for this. After reading this post you will: 1. appreciate your winding travels more than the destination 2. realize how awesome driving across America is and want to experience it for yourself immediately 3. gain an enlightened perspective on the human psyche 4. post lots of comments on this blog entry.

I was sitting in my room enjoying the cold filtered taste of Natural Light one evening while enjoying an especially offensive episode of South Park with my fraternity brothers. We were discussing the possibilities for spring break and how, as seniors, we needed to go out with a bang. Something epic had to be in store. Our minds were focused on some exciting foreign destination in the Caribbean or South America. We were Continue reading

Usain Bolt Headlining the Penn Relays!!!

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The Jamaican track and field star Usain Bolt is expected to draw record crowds as he competes in this year’s Penn Relays Carnival at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.  Bolt will be racing in the 4 x 100 meter relay as part of  the USA vs. The World series of events this Saturday evening (April 24) at 2:50 pm.  It’s hard to imagine that this years attendance is expected to well exceed the 104,000 athletes and spectators that historically attend over the three-day period, but that is just what Bolt’s world record speed has done for the sport. In addition, the USA vs. The World races will be televised on ESPN2 Saturday night from 8-10pm.   Continue reading