I find it rather remarkable that the Obama White House feels that the best way to repay the unpaid portion of the TARP funds is through taxing the banks. Well, I suppose it isn't that remarkable when you consider that the banks are widely blamed for the financial crisis nor is it remarkable that they are loathed by the American people. Well, and when you realize that the American people bailed out the US Banking Industry and they've returned the favor by ... well, there's really no nice way to explain what they've done to the American people. So to say that cynical politicians would choose to tax an unpopular (and, quite frankly, reviled) group of people to fill a hole in the budget is rather unremarkable.
What is remarkable is that the banks aren't really the ones at fault for the shortfall in repaying TARP. This isn't to say that the banks aren't at fault for any one of a dozen different reason or that they aren't scum or that they aren't setting themselves and us up for a repeat performance of the "Great Recession" again in the near future, but let's be fair: they DID repay the money that we loaned their worthless, thieving, child-molesting, murderous, incestuous, lying selves.
And yet, it appears that of the 5 companies that are unlikely to repay TARP: Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, Chrysler and GM ... only ONE of those is on the hook for this tax. Granted, AIG is one of the biggest sources of the financial collapse, but why are we letting Freddie, Fannie, Chrysler and GM off of the hook? It's not like any of these four companies was exactly acting with fiscal responsibility or good business acumen.
Oh... wait, Freddie and Fannie are actually popular pseudo-governmental entities staffed by lots of former political activists, appointees and partisan hacks. In fact, Congress seems pathologically incapable of dealing responsibly with Freddie and Fannie... perhaps it has something to do with all of the bribes.
And really, this is giving unwarranted forgiveness, mercy and kindness to the US Automotive Sector. Yes, the same companies who have been selling us substandard cars at exorbitant prices and ruining their business. Yeah, the same Chrysler and GM that you and I bailed out. We definitely CAN'T tax those guys. I would make a cheap crack about Democrats, US Car Companies, the UAW and Michigan... but everyone knows that I'm morally above cheap cracks.
Of course, this is where the bankers start foaming at the mouth about fairness. And I can't say that I disagree with that at some point or another... it DOES seem admittedly stupid that the same sector that is being encouraged to loan more money is supposed to be doing so while paying more taxes and divert that money from the bonuses that it pays its managers who make it the money rather than diverting it from its customers. Yeah, those same customers that it's already screwing over with wanton abandon. I guess my point is that I have no particular issue with screwing the banks over right back, but I think we're missing out on the pleasures of screwing over GM, Chrysler, Freddie and Fannie.
And we're idiots if we think that in a pissing contest between Congressmen and Banking CEOs that the Congressmen could ever hope to win.
China's history as a denizen of the internet and as a country of internet users is a rather one-sided one. Mostly, it's one of paranoid censorship and suppression of anything that departs from the official party line. And yet, the real interesting part is the strange dichotomy of the technology companies that profit from China, advocate openness on the internet and serve as the backbone of the censorship racket in China. This Time article really spells out a lot of the interesting give-and-take that has served as the basis for this over the last 10 years.
At the beginning of the search engines' relationship with China, there was quite an outcry amongst all of the various US News Agencies, Congressional Representatives. Interestingly, Google and others responded with a request that Congress give them some sort of legal guidance in how to deal with China beyond the prevailing traditional response that a company typically obeys the laws of the various countries that it operates in. No such guidance was ever given.
And now we have this: Google has declared a new approach on China. Apparently Google has decided that China's bad behavior as a government has descended to the level that it can no longer conscion providing services to China and in China. Reading between the lines in Google's statement, it would appear that not only is China using Google to abuse its populace, it is actually surreptitiously sanctioning efforts to compromise Google in order to further its own war on human rights. So, instead of compliance with the desires of China, it will further its own stated agenda of "Do No Evil", even if that act of non-censorship causes it to no longer be able to do business in China.
And even here, it looks like Google is afraid for its own employees, especially as its PR people write, "We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today."
Google realizes that China may very well go above and beyond shutting down Google.cn and actually go after Google's own Chinese employees. And yet, at the same time, it is very well possible that the only currency that a even multi-national corporation like Google can have to impact change in China is shaming them on an international stage.
So I'm not sure where this takes us exactly, but it should be VERY interesting.