Saturday, September 17, 2011

The limits of liberalism.
If I were more conspiracy-minded I'd wonder if the plutocrats had agreed to starve all the little fish...
Linking to Joe Nocera
Not long ago, I received an e-mail from David Rynecki, an old friend and former colleague who left journalism a half-dozen years ago to become a small businessman. David’s firm, Blue Heron Research Partners, does research for investment professionals; he was writing to share his frustration in trying to build a business in the aftermath of the recession.

...His problem was — and is — the same one facing millions of small businesspeople. With lending standards extraordinarily tight in the wake of the financial crisis, banks simply aren’t making small business loans, not even to perfectly creditworthy people like David.

...As it happens, around the same time I was hearing from David, a small businessman on the West Coast was sending me very similar e-mails. His name is Bill Schultheis, and he was trying to help his wife start an upscale spa in Bellevue, Wash. He and his wife, Zhiqin Zhang, were looking for $500,000.

“My wife moved here from China 13 years ago,” Bill wrote. She had already built and sold two spas; now she wanted to create something bigger and more luxurious. If all went according to plan, wrote Bill, she would employ between 25 and 35 people — “something Obama would appreciate,” he added with a touch of sarcasm.

Bill sent me the business plan for the new spa. It was impressive. He outlined Zhiqin’s track record. He explained that the cash flow from his day job — he’s an investment manager — could pay off the loan within 18 months. And then he sent me a chronology of his failed efforts, going back to April 2010, to land a loan that would allow Zhiqin to follow her entrepreneurial dream.
"He and his wife, Zhiqin Zhang, were looking for $500,000. ... He explained that the cash flow from his day job — he’s an investment manager — could pay off the loan within 18 months."

Rather than one loan to a millionaire so that his wife can flip another spa, how about ten $50,000 loans to people who actually want to run small businesses?

Found by happenstance: Chris Bertram in 2003
But even walking a few streets around my home and looking at the posters urging people to demonstrate, I’m quickly reminded why I would not. “Bush” is represented on many of them with a swastika in places of the “S”—an absurd implied equivalence anyway, and a grotesque one a few days after the synagogue bombings in Istanbul. The stunt with the statue also suggest the triumph of theatre over political and moral judgement. And then there’s the fact that the Stop the War Coalition calls for an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq and that some of its components even support what they call the “resistance”. Since the imperative now is to stop Britain and the US from “cutting and running” and to insist that they ensure a transition to stable and constitutional Iraqi self-goverment (and put the infrastructure back together again) what the demostrators largely want is the opposite of what ought to be done.
I don't like vanguardism, and I don't like vanguardism mixed with snobbery and cowardice.

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