Government Ownership of Private Companies

There is a move afloat that, as part of a (supposedly) temporary support measure during the current Wuhan Virus situation, the Federal government should inject money into troubled businesses by taking equity stakes—buying shares of stocks—in them.

As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, that’s a bad idea, and it illustrated the dangers by describing the failure of Japan’s moves in this regard.

As it happens, we have a domestic example of the dangers of governments buying private company stocks: CALPERS. That huge (State) government pension fund has, for all the best reasons, invested in a broad range of American companies, and it has invested in some of them heavily.

An Illustration

A businessman in the People’s Republic of China, Ren Zhiqiang—who also is a member of the Communist Party of China—has been for some time an outspoken critic of PRC President Xi Jinping’s handling of the nation’s COVID-19 epidemic, a mishandling that allowed an early infection to blow out of control within the PRC and to become a global pandemic.

Outspoken critic: among other things, Ren wrote a widely disseminated essay that took issue with a 23 Feb speech by Xi. He wrote of a

Close

…but no cigar.  Senator Mike Lee (R, UT) has some thoughts on fixing the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and its secret FISA Court.  He’s on the right track, but his ideas fall short.

Lee wants to fix the FISA Court and tighten the parameters under which it operates. This Star Chamber cannot be fixed; it must be disbanded and the sections creating and empowering it must be rescinded from the FISA altogether.

Campaigning Against a Burgeoning Economy

In an op-ed in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, Alan Blinder outlined several lines of attack that Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidates could campaign against our present burgeoning economy (the stock market dislocation notwithstanding, as even Blinder acknowledges is irrelevant).

Here is just one of Blinder’s several…misconceptions:

[S]he [Judy Shelton] argued in these pages last September that the Fed should “pursue a more coordinated relationship with both Congress and the president.” Oh my.

Well, of course the Federal Reserve Bank, the Congress, and the President should coordinate so as to not be working at cross purposes. Coordination in no way puts the Fed’s independence at risk.

A Cynical Attitude About Health and Health Coverage

California demurs from the Trump administration’s position that the State’s mandate to insurers that they must cover abortion violates Federal law.  The administration has said it will withhold Federal funding from the State if it doesn’t correct its insurer demand.

The objection to the Trump administration position offered by California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, though, is especially disingenuous.

The Trump Administration’s threats not only put women’s health on the line, but illegally threaten crucial public health funding that Californians rely on.

Listen to Those Who’ve Been There

Escapees—those whom some call defectors—from northern Korea are starting to take an active role in Republic of Korea politics.

…former North Koreans are throwing their hats into the ring to push South Korea to take a harder stand against the latest Kim to rule the North, Kim Jong Un. Among them is a one-time North Korean diplomat, Thae Yong-ho, who is running with Mr. Ji [Seong-ho] for South Korea’s conservative opposition party.

In particular,

Mr Ji will now campaign across South Korea, laying out his objections to the Moon administration, which he says has made too many concessions to North Korea and doesn’t take a strong enough stand on the Kim regime’s human rights abuses.

The Equal Rights Amendment

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board noted in their Valentine’s Day editorial that the time limit for ratifying the ERA has long passed its expiration date and that Virginia’s lately “ratification” of the Amendment, which might have put the thing over the top for national ratification, came much too late to have effect.

On the whole, I agree with the Editors.

However, on this, I strongly disagree:

The ERA also isn’t necessary today. America in 2020 is a very different place for women than it was when the ERA was written. Laws bar discrimination against women in all walks of life, and women are CEOs, Senators, and the Speaker of the House.

Disappointing

Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) is defending his vote to convict President Donald Trump during the impeachment and trial fiasco of the last several weeks. In the course of that defense, Manchin says he wanted to see more information from Trump and his defenders. In the course of that, he tweeted [emphasis added]:

I’ve read the transcripts thoroughly & listened to the witnesses under oath. Where I come from a person accused defends themselves with witnesses and evidence. Where I come from a person accused defends themselves with witnesses and evidence.

Government Knows Better Than Owners

That’s what the SEC is claiming with its latest shenanigan.

[T]he Securities and Exchange Commission wants to make it harder for small shareholders to get resolutions onto company ballots, known as proxies.

After all, the SEC says, with some accuracy,

responding to resolutions can pose an undue burden on companies, costing tens of thousands of dollars apiece for research, and printing and mailing of ballots.

However.

Corporate by-laws are set by the owners of the company, and the owners can, via their by-laws, set the parameters surrounding shareholder resolutions and thereby manage their own costs just fine, thank you.

“I Have Seen Dictatorships”

Ex-US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, says so. And she insisted, in her op-ed, that she and her colleagues had no obligations to her bosses:

When civil servants in the current administration saw senior officials taking actions they considered deeply wrong in regard to the nation of Ukraine, they refused to take part.

They, and she, also refused to resign. All of them simply presumed to disobedience and to a veto authority over their bosses’ instructions.

She went on:

We need to stand up for our values, defend our institutions, participate in civil society and support a free press.