A lament for newspapers going broke

The Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, and other properties, has filed for bankruptcy protection. Meanwhile, the New York Times has mortgaged its building to raise much-needed cash.

Before we gloat about the end of print journalism, with its liberal bias, and hail its replacement with the internet, consider. . . . When you read news on the internet, notice that it is nearly always linked to a newspaper. What newspapers do is pay people in your town and around the world to dig up news and then write it up. The internet is free, but that means that the internet is not paying anyone to perform that service. That we can now get news free does wreck the newspapers’ business model, but until people pay for internet news–enabling a true migration from print-on-paper to online news organizations–we will not have anything to replace what newspapers, for all of their current faults, do.

We’ll have a Car Czar

As part of their bailout plan for the U.S. auto industry, Congress was going to set up a board of its members and other federal officials to tell the companies what they can and cannot do. That was bad enough. Now Congress is planning to appoint a single individual to oversee the auto industry, a so-called “car czar.” From the Washington Post:

Democratic leaders continued working on details of their proposal this morning, and they made at least one change at the administration’s request. Instead of establishing a board from among six federal agencies to oversee an auto industry restructuring, Democrats agreed to the appointment by President Bush of a single “car czar,” according to a senior Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the measure is not yet final.

Under the proposal, which Democrats hope to bring to a vote this week, the loans would go out on Dec. 15, and the car czar would then develop broad restructuring goals for the auto industry, the aide said. On Feb. 15, after the Bush appointee had been replaced by President-elect Barack Obama, the czar would assess the companies’ progress and could pull back the loans. Long-term restructuring goals would be due from the car companies by March 31.

Friends, is it right for the state to issue fiats to privately-owned companies? Is it good economic policy to run a company according to government commands rather than the private market? I know, this is the price of a government bailout. But this cannot be worth it. This is not just socialism; it’s national socialism.

Foreclosed homes for the homeless

A new form of philanthropy, a new way of doing good with other people’s property! Miami activist moves people into foreclosed houses – washingtonpost.com:

[Max] Rameau is an activist who has been executing a bailout plan of his own around Miami’s empty streets: He is helping homeless people illegally move into foreclosed homes.

“We’re matching homeless people with people-less homes,” he said with a grin.

Rameau and a group of like-minded advocates formed Take Back the Land, which also helps the new “tenants” with secondhand furniture, cleaning supplies and yard upkeep. So far, he has moved six families into foreclosed homes and has nine on a waiting list.

“I think everyone deserves a home,” said Rameau, who said he takes no money from his work with the homeless. “Homeless people across the country are squatting in empty homes. The question is: Is this going to be done out of desperation or with direction?”

The benefits of our bad economy

Every cloud has a silver lining, including our economic woes. Consider these facts:

(1)Couples are staying together because they can’t afford to get a divorce.

(2) Gasoline prices, which we were so bent out of shape about a few months ago, are plummeting.

(3) Housing prices plummet, making homes more affordable for young families.

(4) Lower interest rates have sparked a surge in mortgage refinancing, which means more money in monthly budgets.

Can you think of any other good things to come out of this? (Answers may be either serious or whimsical.)

When the treasury secretary was at summer camp

Read Iowahawk’s reconstruction of the letters that now Treasury Secretary Paulson must have written home when he was a kid at summer camp. Here, it is alleged, he learned his method of saving our economy.

Also, read P.J. O’Rourke pleading for a bailout of print journalism.

HT: Vere Loqui

Taxpayer Jubilee?

Here is a bailout we could all get behind. In the words of Jonah Goldberg:

But rather than blow money on a lavish reenactment of the New Deal, or continue bailing out undeserving corporations, why not really think outside the box? Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas) suggests an across-the-board reprieve on paying 2008 income taxes. This would leave an extra $1.2 trillion in the hands of Americans, who are the best stewards of their own money. Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Mundell proposes a one-year moratorium on corporate income taxes in order to stimulate investment, job creation and the like. That wouldn’t be as popular, for understandable reasons.

The details can be negotiated, but this sort of approach would certainly create more jobs and spur more consumer demand than paying for a lot of asphalt. It would buy a lot more prosperity than any corporate bailout. Politically, it could buy Obama and Congress a year to formulate a serious tax-reform proposal. And — here’s the amazing part — it would be much cheaper than what we’ve spent already.

Think about that! A tax jubilee would put big chunks of cash back in peoples’ hands. In many cases, it would be enough for a down payment on a house or new car. Or people could save it or pay down debt or invest it. That would bailout the housing industry, the automobile industry, the banks, and the stockmarket. And think what this would do to the national mood.

Barack Obama is promising something dramatic to deal with the economic downturn, so who knows? If he forgave all income taxes for a year, his popularity would be off the charts, even with conservatives.