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Monthly Archives: July 2007

Airplane Crash – Safest Seat – How to Survive Plane Accident – NTSB Data – Flight Records – Popular Mechanics

Well, I have finally found the answer.  Sit in the back.

I have been wondering where the safest place to sit on a plane since the left engine of an American Airlines flight I was one decided to quit on takeoff.  This scared the crap out of me as the plane lunged towards the ground before the pilot could spool up the right engine and right the plane.

I wrote AA a detailed email about my experience and guess what?  No answer.  I guess that is a different story.

2008 Presidential Election Candidates on the Issues

The link above is an excellent spreadsheet that lists the major presidential candidates and their positions on major issues.  Nice.  I love spreadsheeting…

The Moore the Scarier

by Jonathan Hoenig     |     Published July 16, 2007

I MAKE A BRIEF APPEARANCE, unwilling and unpaid mind you, in “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s new film about health care in the U.S. In it, I make the point that while Canadians are entitled to their share of socialized medicine, the quality and availability of services is atrocious. Moore might be determined to present an alternate reality, but almost on cue I just happened to hear this week from an associate whose Canadian mother was diagnosed with kidney cancer in March. By June, she still hadn’t been given a date for an operation, prompting her family to bring her to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and pay $45,000 out of pocket to have the procedure done. Not surprisingly, they’d rather pay to receive a service and be cured than not pay for it and die waiting for an appointment.

First off, it’s important to realize the health-care system in the U.S. is far from a free market. Between Medicare, Medicaid and a myriad of other public programs, it’s estimated that the government pays for and controls nearly half the health care in the country. Even private health care in the U.S. is a highly regulated, obsessively congealed ball of red tape. Under the present system virtually every element of private health care, from who can practice medicine to how kidneys are allocated, is controlled by bureaucrats. Yes, U.S. health care is problematic, but not because it’s a for-profit capitalist system. The problem stems from it not being capitalist enough. It’s a little bit bewildering to suggest there’s a “right” to health care considering that, all things being equal, food and shelter are more basic necessities of life. Why those aren’t the subject of multimillion-dollar documentary films is because the free market has done a pretty good job of addressing those issues already. Home ownership in this country is at an all-time high and obesity, not starvation, is the major problem facing rich and poor alike.

Yet collectivists like Moore, along with politicians on both sides of the aisle, are now calling for even more government involvement in health care by setting up a “universal” system. Of course, universal health care is just another name for socialized medicine. Under socialism, health care is a right, just like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Everybody has a right to health care in their view, not because they’ve done something to deserve it, but simply because of the fact they need it. Men like Moore believe that the fact that you lawfully earn your money doesn’t entitle you to it, yet the fact that a cancer patient needs chemotherapy does entitle him to it.

The reality is that from Canada to Cuba socialized health care’s record is appalling. It’s impossible to tally how many patients die waiting for routine preventative procedures or how many innovations go undiscovered because precious resources are squandered. If you think the Post Office, IRS and Social Security are run poorly, then you can only imagine how horrific a national health-care system would be.

Yet the real reason to oppose socialized heath care isn’t that it’s impractical, but because it’s immoral. As properly defined in the Declaration of Independence, we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So while you have an absolute right to your life, you don’t have the right to demand society at large provide you with food, shelter, four weeks of vacation, a laptop computer or any other entitlement that populist politicians or socialist filmmakers care to propose.

Of course, a right is a right to action, but not to a freebie owed to you simply by being born. In America, individual rights mean you’re free to pursue your own life just as others are free to pursue their own. To the extent you’d like to contribute glasses for the blind or pay for operations for the poor, you’re welcome to voluntarily. But man is not born owing thy neighbor anything, only the obligation not to interfere with his own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Your right to free speech, for example, doesn’t obligate me to listen.

But establishing a right to health care is enslaving someone else with the obligation to provide it. A right to health care means that in fact, I don’t have a right to my own pursuit of happiness, because I have a legal duty to work to fulfill your rights. If you need an aspirin, I work an extra 15 minutes a day. If you need a respirator, it might be an extra 15 days. Forced to serve the collective, the individual no longer has any rights at all.

Last fall I wrote that “political winds have prompted me to increase my allocation to foreign exchange beyond the good ol’ greenback. You can debate if higher taxes and minimum wage, along with a move toward expanding entitlements such as Social Security or universal health care are worthy goals, but one thing is certain: They aren’t free. As the anticapitalist, welfare state expands, it’s my belief the value of the dollar will undoubtedly decline.” Lo and behold, the dollar has already fallen sharply as the country has moved more toward an entitlement state and socialized health care. The trend shows no sign of shifting anytime soon.

The success of Moore’s film and the widespread movement toward socialized health care by members of both political parties will only mean further declines for our nation’s currency. Of course, that’s the one risk I can hedge. The sad part is the quality of the health care for all Americans, rich or poor, will fall right along with it.

Jonathan Hoenig is managing member at Capitalistpig Hedge Fund LLC.

Fed Feels Pressure to Protect Consumers (Wall Street Journal)
State Regulators Offer Guidance on Mortgages (American Banker)
First Rung on Property Ladder Gets Harder to Reach (USA Today)
Loan Spree to Come Back Against Small Banks (Wall Street Journal)
Lender Courting ‘Green’ Clients (Sacramento Bee (Calif.))
Countrywide Warns Defaults Rising (Investor’s Business Daily)
Subprime Lender NovaStar Gets $150 Mln Infusion (Reuters)
Finance: Alliance Bancorp (Investor’s Business Daily)
Congressmen Push for Disaster Insurance (Palm Beach Post (Fla.))

U.S. to China: Buy Mortgage Debt (Investor’s Business Daily)
U.S. Real Estate Going Global (Inman News)
GSEs Detail Purchasing Plans (American Banker)
Missouri Title Insurance Law to Aid Consumers (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Can REITs Tower Again? (Wall Street Journal)

Fitch May Downgrade Bonds Tied to Subprime Mortgages (New York Times)
House GOP Legislation Would License Mortgage Lenders (Delaware News Journal)
Panel OKs Loan, Real Estate Bill (American Banker)
General Electric to Sell WMC Mortgage, A Subprime Loan Unit (New York Times)
Countrywide Sued in Race Bias Case (Los Angeles Times)
Mortgage Rate Rose in Week (Wall Street Journal)
Probe Sought of New Century-KPMG Dealings (Washington Post)
Time to Collect From Ameriquest (Washington Post)

Strong Mortgage Data Draw Some Skeptics (Wall Street Journal)
Pipeline: Reverse Revolution? (American Banker)
New HUD Unit to Oversee Lending (Washington Post)
Lenders Targeted by NAACP Lawsuit (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Fed, Treasury Officials Say Subprime Losses Not a Risk (Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA))
Fitch Sees Rising Shakiness in Commercial Mortgage Arena (Wall Street Journal)
NAR Cuts ’07 Housing Forecast (Investor’s Business Daily)
New Cash Idea for Homeowners (Christian Science Monitor)
2,200 to Get Reprieves on Foreclosures (Boston Globe)

Subprime Loans Re-Evaluated (Raleigh News & Observer (NC))
Housing Woes Hurt Retailers, Builders and Credit Markets (Investor’s Business Daily)
Thrift Regulator May Ban ‘Unfair’ Lending Practices (Wall Street Journal)
Study Finds Bias in Lending (Washington Post)
ABA Fights Real Estate Brokerage Ban (American Banker)
State to Refinance Troubled Mortgages (Boston Globe)
Fed Chairman’s Talk Further Dims Hope for a Rate Cut (New York Times)
REIT Returns End Seven-Year Climb (Wall Street Journal)

What’s Inside: Red Bull

Okay, I have a problem, I drink about 4 to 6 cans for Red Bull per day.  I hope this doesn’t cause any long term problems that can’t be cured by, perhaps, drinking more Red Bull.

Why Applications’ Value as Yardstick May Be Shifting (American Banker)
HUD & GAO Argue Over FHA Policy (National Mortgage News)
Increasing Rate of Foreclosures Upsets Atlanta (New York Times)
Housing’s New Risks for the Economy (BusinessWeek)
A Little Help, Please (Wall Street Journal)
NAR ‘Legal Scan’ Highlights Agency and RESPA Issues (Realty Times)
Betting on a Building Boom (Investor’s Business Daily)