Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sex and Finance

September 30, 2008, 8:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m.

Sexual Assault Aftermath, Global Collapse, Links and More

Sexual Assault Aftermath

5:00 p.m. Breaking News: Brian Morelli, "Faculty Circulating Petition to Reinstate Mills," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 30, 2008, 4:23 p.m.

First, here are links to some recent and related entries:

The most extensive collection of material: Nicholas Johnson, "University of Iowa Sexual Assault Controversy -- 2007-08," July 19-present
"Cleaning Up After the Party," September 26, 27, 2008 (includes link to Mills' response to Stolar Report)
"Which Would be Worse?" September 25, 2008
"Scapegoat Bites Back," September 24, 2008
"Got Questions?" September 23, 2008
"Rational Responses to Stolar and Global Finance" (includes "The Case for Mills and Jones"), September 20, 2008
"Extra: Stolar Report," September 18, 19, 2008 (includes liink to Stolar Report)

To which the Press-Citizen has added a couple of additional stories this morning:

Brian Morelli, "Campus reaction to recent events varies," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 30, 2008, p. A1, which reports, as the headline suggests, that some are supportive of the Regents/Mason firings, some very disturbed, and the remainder make up the ever-present apathetic ("UI history professor Katherine Tachau said having read comments from well-regarded people in the UI community such as former UI President Sandy Boyd, former law school dean Bill Hines and former UI General Counsel Mark Schantz, who don't often comment publicly, 'I take that as a sign that there are serious governance problems now because of what is seen as an overly hasty decision with insufficient due process.'").

Lee Hermiston, "Ex-education lawyer criticizes UI firings," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 30, 2008, p. A1 ("Sheldon Steinbach, a Washington, D.C., attorney, [who] served for 37 years as the general counsel for the American Council on Education . . . said he questions the report done by the Stolar Partnership . . .. 'Having read this sort of B-minus report over a second time, I fail to see what in that report ... warrants their termination, if anything," Steinbach said, adding that their firings 'border on the extraordinary.'").

And The Daily Iowan reports the UI's proposed all-employee sexual harassment training program is also opening to mixed reviews: Matt De La Peña, "Harassment training receives mixed response," The Daily Iowan, September 29, 2008, p. A1 -- and check out the comments while you're there.

Meanwhile, The Gazette reports: Diane Heldt, "UI investigates anti-gay graffiti," Gazette Online, Updated September 29. 2008 7:40 p.m.

"Global Collapse"?

First, a couple links to prior entries:

"How Much Do You Owe the Chinese?" September 6, 8, 2008

"Global Finance: The Great Fountain Pen Robbery," September 21, 2008.

"Alternatives to 'The Plan,'" September 28, 2008.

Well, "The Plan" got voted down yesterday. Jonathan Weisman, "House Rejects Financial Rescue, Sending Stocks Plummeting," Washington Post, September 30, 2008, p. A1.

The sky has yet to fall. The Dow's drop was predictable -- but much of it occurred before the vote. The Japanese market was down around 4%, but that was about the world's worst. Europe's markets regained most of their decline. Russia's problems had to do with the price of oil, not U.S. mortgages and bankers' greed.

Two-thirds of the House Republicans voted against it -- a plan created, strongly supported, and widely publicized by their own Party's President and Secretary of the Treasury.

Forty percent of the House Democrats voted against it -- because (among other things) provisions they felt essential had been stripped out of it in order to get more Republican support.

I think both groups of nay voters were right to reject it -- albeit for their different reasons.

That's not the same thing as saying we should do "nothing." It's only saying Congress shouldn't be doing what they are being urged to do, with the speed at which they are being urged to do it.

The Republicans say we have not yet begun to consider a whole range of marketplace options that could reduce or eliminate the need to socialize the financial sector and require taxpayers pick up the predictable losses from irresponsible, excessive private greed.

As I laid out in "Alternative to 'The Plan,'" linked above, we need to focus more on the needs of depositors (let's first fully fund FDIC), the unemployed (unemployment compensation, training programs, and a CCC-like program ready to roll), and homeowners (permitting those declaring bankruptcy to keep their one home, or at least have their mortgage readjusted to represent the home's actual value), and less on the CEOs.

Bankruptcy is not my field, so I can't personally say what follows is true. But a bankruptcy lawyer recently pointed out to me that when a firm declares bankruptcy, if the CEO and other executives have paid themselves bonuses based on fraudulently inflated accounting statements, those bonuses have to be repaid to the trustee in bankruptcy for distribution to creditors. Thus, when Henry Paulson the magnificent magician one evening turned Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley from investment banks into conventional banks, thereby enabling them to avoid bankruptcy, he may have also enabled their CEOs to keep millions of dollars in self-awarded bonuses they would have otherwise had to surrender.

"Doing something" is not always the best response to a crisis -- when, as in this case, the details of that "something" are unknown, there is no confidence the "something" will make things better, it will have known adverse effects, will transfer enormous and Constitution-challenging power to one unelected person, and will redistribute an unprecedented amount of debt from the wealthy to the middle class and poor.

We took a long time to think through and respond to the savings and loan bailout. This challenge deserves no less.

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