Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    1. Goldman Sucks
    2. Why not McCain? Why not Romney?
    3. Michael Gerson, Church Lady
    4. Clergy Misdemeanors

1

This is Goldman Sachs in classic form — making money without creating any real wealth:

Metro International holds nearly 1.5 million tons of aluminum in its Detroit facilities, but industry rules require that all that metal cannot simply sit in a warehouse forever. At least 3,000 tons of that metal must be moved out each day. But nearly all of the metal that Metro moves is not delivered to customers, according to the interviews. Instead, it is shuttled from one warehouse to another.

Because Metro International charges rent each day for the stored metal, the long queues caused by shifting aluminum among its facilities means larger profits for Goldman. And because storage cost is a major component of the “premium” added to the price of all aluminum sold on the spot market, the delays mean higher prices for nearly everyone, even though most of the metal never passes through one of Goldman’s warehouses.

Aluminum industry analysts say that the lengthy delays at Metro International since Goldman took over are a major reason the premium on all aluminum sold in the spot market has doubled since 2010. The result is an additional cost of about $2 for the 35 pounds of aluminum used to manufacture 1,000 beverage cans, investment analysts say, and about $12 for the 200 pounds of aluminum in the average American-made car.

“It’s a totally artificial cost,” said one of them, Jorge Vazquez, managing director at Harbor Aluminum Intelligence, a commodities consulting firm. “It’s a drag on the economy. Everyone pays for it.”

(A Shuffle of Aluminum, But to the Banks, Pure Gold; H/T The Browser)

2

It’s probably the assessment of most TAC writers that the Republican party’s embrace of neoconservative foreign policy attitudes is one of the most serious problems facing the GOP. Whatever might have been the strengths of John McCain and Mitt Romney, their bellicose public statements, their deference to right wing Israel lobbyists, their readiness to confront other powers in their own backyard over issues having nothing to do with America, their apparent eagerness to open up new fronts for war, was altogether sufficient reason to deny them the presidency.

(Scott McConnell, Diagnosing the GOP, Absolving Bill Kristol, in The American Conservative blog)

3

I have done about a 179-degree turnabout on Michael Gerson. I regarded him as a good speechwriter in whom I took a little extra pride because, if I recall correctly, he’s a Wheaton College graduate. I aspired to Wheaton, attended for a year, learned more there making B-minus than elswhere with A’s, and should have finished there but for some adolescent raging hormones that made me follow my then-fiancé to a third rate institution in the fever swamps.

I now think Gerson is prissy, precious, and way too full of himself. He now has tried to read Rand Paul out of the GOP, arguing like the good liberal that he’s become that Jack Hunter puts Paul beyond the pale.

I’m so turned off I’m at risk of the Reverse Mussolini fallacy on anything he says.

4

There was a recent kerfuffle about an Indiana law that (arguably) criminalizes religious “marriage” ceremonies for polygamous or gay couples.

First, in “praise by faint damnation” defense of the law, I must note that it is not new and was not aimed at gay couples.

That said, making it a Class B misdemeanor for clergy to “solemnize[] a marriage of individuals who are prohibited from marrying by [Indiana law]” is an offense to the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalists, and airhead clergy of other stripes as well. Let them have their legally ineffectual rituals. It’s the least bad course available.

And how did such a law come about in 1986? In my opinion, too many elementary teachers and too few lawyers in the Indiana legislature.

Of course, a legislature dominated by lawyers would have a separate set of problems.

Here I stand. I can do no other.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.