- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, on why the feds were right to deny a taxpayer bailout for Lehman Brothers: It’s natural to second-guess recent moves by the government’s top economic officials after a day when the most-watched stock index drops nearly 500 points. But when those officials refused to bail out Lehman Brothers, taxpayers got a break they deserved, and Wall Street got some strong medicine it needed. …

Unlike Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac), Lehman Brothers was not too big to fail. It sealed its fate by investing in too many risky deals and borrowing too much in an increasingly reckless effort to keep up its profits. …

The government’s hard line on Lehman probably persuaded another ailing investment bank, Merrill Lynch, not to hold out for a taxpayer bailout. It agreed over the weekend to be bought by Bank of America Corp.

In today’s slumping economy, there’s a long list of struggling industries. If the government were to keep bailing out banks, how could it turn down the auto industry, which has been seeking up to $50 billion in federal aid? …

More than a year of turmoil on Wall Street has shown the need for better regulation of financial players, especially investment banks. But drawing the line at bailing out Lehman Brothers may do as much or more to discourage such firms from taking excessive risks.

Those companies and their executives have profited handsomely during good times. If they can’t count on taxpayers to make up their losses during bad times, they’re a lot more likely to operate responsibly.

On the Net:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/orl-ed16108sep16,0,33525 77.story

The Anniston (Ala.) Star, on Hurricane Ike:

Everyone knew Hurricane Ike was coming. Everyone knew it would be bad. Everyone was told to get out. …

Galveston, Texas, is not New Orleans. It is not an inland city where many residents believed they were safe. It is on an island. …

Yet, despite all the warnings, approximately 2,000 stayed on the island, many of whom had the means to leave. And many of those have learned a bitter lesson. …

Galveston is flooded with putrid slime full of raw sewage and floating debris that endangers anyone who tries to get out. Power is off. Water is off. Toilets won’t flush. …

The mayor is telling those who did evacuate to “not come back to Galveston. You cannot live here right now.”

Which is what those who stayed behind have discovered, and they want to get out.

So rescue workers - who might have been of use in other parts of the disaster area - are trying to get into Galveston to bring out people who somehow thought the warnings did not apply to them.

This nation has always been a place where people were free to do foolish things - so long as what they do doesn’t endanger others. In this case, it is hard to have enduring sympathy for those who could have evacuated and chose to stay behind.

On the Net:


The Durango (Colo.) Herald, on the scandal involving Minerals Management Services employees:

A report released Sept. 10 revealed a pattern of scandalous behavior at the Department of Interior division responsible for collecting royalty obligations from companies that drill on federal and Indian lands as well as offshore. Given the level of fraternization between the federal employees targeted in the report and gas and oil industry representatives, it is difficult to imagine that industry did not benefit from the indiscretion. The extent of those benefits has yet to be determined, but taxpayers could certainly have suffered – as could have public lands.

MMS collected $11 billion from mining and drilling companies that extracted resources from public lands and in offshore locations. That is a significant sum - and is one of the largest sources of non-tax revenue collected by the federal government. As such, the ethics rules governing that office’s operation should be as stringent as possible to avoid conflicts of interests, their potential, or even appearance. Instead, it appears the exact opposite was true. To have that special treatment trickle down to the administrative oversight level just reinforces Americans’ cynicism that clearly did not develop in a vacuum.

It also more sharply draws into focus the importance of going slowly when considering offering more public resources to the gas, oil and mining industries. If the lands and waters - and the minerals they contain - are worth no more than a night of partying, an afternoon at a football game or a trip to New Orleans to those in charge of collecting money on those lands’ - and Americans’ - behalf, then a cultural shift at the Interior Department is in order.

On the Net:


The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record, on role models and teen pregnancy:

Those who were able to convince delegates at the Republican National Convention that the pregnancy of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s daughter is a “private matter” might find a tougher audience in New Jersey, where the issue of teen pregnancy is not so lightly dismissed.

Although impressionable adolescents can’t be sheltered from news of high-profile pregnancies, that must be countered with the opinions of those who really matter in young lives - parents, adult friends and relatives, teachers, medical professionals and religious authorities.

High-profile cases of teen pregnancy -Bristol Palin or Jamie Lynn Spears - could send the wrong signal to other teens. The personal, social, financial, educational and medical stakes are high, and our children need to know where we stand.

Bristol Palin’s pregnancy gives all of us one more opportunity to make that point.

In her case, the confluence of a strong family, a solid religious upbringing and abstinence-only educational programs did not succeed in preventing teen pregnancy.

If growing numbers of children having children is a social condition we’re willing to endure, then silently accepting that as a personal matter is appropriate. But if we feel that children need to be educated about becoming responsible parents at the proper time - and we wish to convey our beliefs about the role of sex in teenagers’ lives - then we must talk about it often and fearlessly: over the dinner table, in the classroom, in the halls of government, from religious pulpits, in the media and elsewhere.

On the Net:


China Daily News, Hong Kong, on U.S. financial woes and understanding China:

Besides being disastrous for the US, the US subprime mortgage crisis has also adversely affected China’s economy. However, it also presents an opportunity for Americans to gain a more sober understanding of China. …

American financial institutions sold the subprime mortgages through mortgage-backed securities (MBO) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO) to their European, Japanese, Canadian, Chinese and Indian counterparts. The confirmed losses worldwide have reached $395.8 billion, while estimated losses stand at about $995 billion. …

In the past few years the US Congress has passed many bills trying to force China to raise the exchange rate of its currency against the US dollar. Some lawmakers have alleged that the renminbi’s low exchange rate caused the US economic imbalance.

Now we know the real cause. Where were all the financial experts when the US economy deteriorated to its current state? Shouldn’t US economic regulators be held responsible for this mess, too? …

If the US wants to convince the world that the current economic downturn was caused by some “unintended missteps” now is the perfect time to take the responsibility for the subprime fiasco. There just might be something good coming out of this economic calamity if the US proves it is as responsible as it claims to be.

On the Net:


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