History

"Book Review: Albion's Seed"

Not really a book review, but a selection of trivia about Colonial America from the book that was great fun to read. With a bonus: an attempt to connect the author's story to modern American political divisions.

The average family size in Waltham, Massachusetts in the 1730s was 9.7 children. . . .

Puritan parents traditionally would send children away to be raised with other families, and raise those families’ children in turn, in the hopes that the lack of familiarity would make the child behave better. . . .

Three-quarters of 17th-century Virginian children lost at least one parent before turning 18. . . .

Fischer argues that the Quaker ban on military activity within their territory would have doomed them in most other American regions, but by extreme good luck the Indians in the Delaware Valley were almost as peaceful as the Quakers. As usual, at least some credit goes to William Penn, who taught himself Algonquin so he could negotiate with the Indians in their own language. . . .

Colonial opinion on the Borderers [aka the "Scots-Irish"--ed.] differed within a very narrow range: one Pennsylvanian writer called them “the scum of two nations”, another Anglican clergyman called them “the scum of the universe”. . . .


"Fannie, Freddie and the Secrets of a Bailout With No Exit"

Revealed: more lies from guess who. (Story is by Gretchen Morgenson in the New York Times.)

When Washington took over the beleaguered mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the collapse of the housing market and the financial crisis of 2008, it was with the implicit promise that they would be returned to shareholders after being nursed back to health.

But now, with the unsealing of documents this week that were produced as part of a lawsuit filed against the government, new evidence is coming to light on how intimately the White House was involved in the Treasury’s decision in August 2012 to keep all the companies’ profits for the government. That move effectively maintained Fannie’s and Freddie’s status as wards of the state.


A note on George McGovern

In a comment here yesterday William Sjostrom--Hi, William, and my other readers in Ireland-- noted that George McGovern "was an honorable man". 

He sure was. For instance, I can't name another politician who, after retiring from public life and investing in a business, wrote this:

I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day.

In that same column, more than 20 years before Obamacare, Senator McGovern also wrote as follows:

For example, the papers today are filled with stories about businesses dropping health coverage for employees. We provided a substantial package for our staff at the Stratford Inn. However, were we operating today, those costs would exceed $150,000 a year for health care on top of salaries and other benefits. There would have been no reasonable way for us to absorb or pass on these costs.

Some of the escalation in the cost of health care is attributed to patients suing doctors. While one cannot assess the merit of all these claims, I've also witnessed firsthand the explosion in blame-shifting and scapegoating for every negative experience in life.