10 August 2010

"Politically Motivated Critics Assail Magic Bean Trading Strategy"

Popehat | Patrick | Politically Motivated Critics Assail Magic Bean Trading Strategy

What brilliant mind agreed to this?
To members of the Denver Board of Education, it sounded ideal. It was complex, involving several different financial institutions and transactions. … Rather than issue a plain-vanilla bond with a fixed interest rate, Denver followed its bankers’ suggestions and issued so-called pension certificates with a derivative attached; the debt carried a lower rate but it could also fluctuate if economic conditions changed.

The Denver schools essentially made the same choice some homeowners make: opting for a variable-rate mortgage that offered lower monthly payments, with the risk that they could rise, instead of a conventional, fixed-rate mortgage that offered larger, but unchanging, monthly payments.
[...] Denver’s school superintendant Thomas Boasberg, who was one of the prime movers behind the magic bean trade, dismisses critics as “politically motivated.” That’s code language. It means “My conduct was wrong. It was indefensible. Since I have no defense, I’ll use ad hominem to attack those accusing me, who are politically motivated doodoo-heads.”
Why do people use "politically motivated" as a bad thing? We have an adversarial system. People are supposed to be politically motivated which in this case means selfish. We want the people out of power sniping at the people in power. That's what keeps the powerful in check.

Would it be nice if everyone could gather around the table and agree with each other? Sure. Not gonna happen.

We want to align people's private motivations with public good. That's the point of a constitutional republic with seperateed powers, and indeed of a capitalist society. We want what people are already naturally inclined to do to coincide with what the rest of us want them to do.

Claiming a criticism is privately motivated doesn't tell me anything about whether it's a correct criticism. It's either valid or invalid. If it's valid I don't care why it's being made, and if it's invalid ... I still don't care.

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