Thursday, October 28, 2010

Economy and politics

The initial claims data was a little better than expected at 434k while the previous week was revised upward. This is modestly positive that the claims fell but they remain elevated so it's kind of like saying that your bookie is only going to break 2 of your fingers instead of 3 if you don't pay up for Pittsburgh not covering last week.

There was further evidence that the government's HAMP (mortgage modification) program still leaves up to half of the participants redefaulting under the new terms. It depends if you are a glass half full or half empty person to determine if you think the program is a success or failure.

"Half of the so far nearly 500,000 permanent modifications completed by servicers participating in the Home Affordable Modification Program will redefault, Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel said Wednesday."

Well, we're less than a week away from the mid-term elections and no matter what your political leanings, I think we can all agree that the entire process stinks. Mudslinging and constantly distorting the facts makes the electorate tune out all political discourse.

"A well-known political fact-checking group has pored over the 2010 election and come up with a rating for the year: “barely true.”

PolitiFact, a product of The St. Petersburg Times that is rapidly expanding into local precincts, said Wednesday that a majority of the claims by candidates that it has checked out this fall have been, well, murky.

In most of them “we found a grain of truth, but it was exaggerated, twisted or distorted,” the Web site’s editor."

You can checkout Politifact's survey of the ads online here. They don't cover NYS yet, so it seems our candidates are safe.

The scary thing is that if you're turned off by the political carpet bombing this year, wait until 2012. This year might look like a town council race by the time we get to 2012. So, now that we've let the genie out of the bottle is there any way to turn back the clock to a more civil time? It's not likely, but I do like this proposal put forth by the British press. In the UK (and many other European countries) paid political ads on TV and radio are banned because they are viewed as unfair (there isn't an opportunity for your opponent to respond). Most western European countries allocate free air time to political parties during election campaigns. Britain also has rules that outlaw the attack ads.

Wouldn't that be refreshing? No attack ads, no ads at all, just a weekly discussion about the issues hosted by the local media (of course, you'd have to ban robo-calls, emails, tweets, websites, flyers and planes towing banners, as well).

However, when there are bored people with huge piles of cash (Meg Whitman is probably going to spend $140 million in California and LOSE!) the political industry - consultants, tv stations, newspapers, etc. - would never let it happen.

Maybe we could talk a mid-size state like, PA or OH into being a testing ground in 2012 for new "ad-free" election cycle. Someone should start working on that :)


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