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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2009 / 18 Teves 5769

A false sense of security

By John Stossel


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The $50-billion investment scam allegedly pulled off by Wall Street insider Bernard Madoff has ignited predictable calls for more regulation.


The "massive fraud ... was made possible in part because the regulators who were assigned to oversee Wall Street dropped the ball," said President-elect Obama.


"This scandal underscores the need for a 21st century regulatory approach," writes Arthur Levitt Jr., former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in The Wall Street Journal.


Notice the disconnect. Regulation failed, so we need more regulation. I see it differently. Regulation failed, so let's try free markets. That would be a change.


Regulation did indeed fail. "An executive in the securities industry, Harry Markopolos, contacted the SEC's Boston office in May 1999, urging regulators to investigate Mr. Madoff. Mr. Markopolos continued to pursue his accusations over the past nine years," The Wall Street Journal reported.


Of course, when a regulatory agency fails, the usual response is to make it bigger, not abolish it. Economist Robert Murphy notes, "In the private sector, when a firm fails, it ceases operations. The opposite happens in government. There is literally nothing a government agency could do that would make the talking heads on the Sunday shows ask, 'Should we just abolish this agency? Is it doing more harm than good?'"


Most people won't like the suggestion that we dump regulation for free markets. We can't let markets run themselves, they'll say. Someone has to protect the unsuspecting from conmen. The Madoff case shows why this view is wrong. We've always been told that regulation of financial markets protects the least knowledgeable investors. Sophisticated people know what they are doing and can fend for themselves.


But Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme is fascinating precisely because it caught some very knowledgeable people. They knew Madoff. Everyone trusted him, including the regulators.


That's one reason those savvy investors gave him their money. But there is surely another reason. Since the 1930s, investors have been led to believe the regulatory system watches out for dishonest investment schemes. That creates a false sense of security — and sets people up to be conned.


Advocates of regulation attribute almost magical powers to regulators, but clever cheats can get around any system. They always have. It's their chosen profession, and the regulators can't look everywhere. Regulation advocates also assume that bureaucrats are disinterested and incorruptible, but we know this is not always true. People who work in government are like anyone else. There will always be a percentage of individuals who can be tempted by corrupt opportunities. The logic of regulation would require that super bureaucrats be appointed to watch over the regulatory agencies.


But who will watch over them?


This is why regulation is counterproductive and a poor substitute for investor vigilance. The more rigorous the regulatory effort appears, the more risky it is.


Regulation by market discipline is better, but in our state-dominated culture few people realize this. Arthur Levitt says, "The complexity of today's products, markets and investment strategies calls for a laser-like focus [by the SEC] on risk assessment."


But the opposite is true. Savvy investors would do their own risk assessment if they didn't believe the government was doing it for them. And wouldn't they do a better job, considering it was their own money at risk? Regulators risk nothing.


Of course many of us investors are unqualified to assess risk for ourselves. But we could pay specialists for the service, generating a competitive market for risk assessment — in contrast to the monopolistic SEC and other agencies.


That form of investor protection would be superior in every way to a system that gives a bureaucracy arbitrary power. After all, private risk assessors would have to justify their fees, which clients would pay voluntarily.


Current government regulation interferes with honest voluntary exchanges by imposing arbitrary terms and requiring tons of paperwork disclosing information no one wants anyway.


Fraud will always exist. Enforcement of anti-fraud laws is a useful deterrent, but in the end there's no substitute for investor vigilance. Government regulations provide a false sense of security — and that's worth less than no sense of security at all. Archives

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JUST OUT FROM STOSSEL
Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel --- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong  

Stossel mines his 20/20 segments for often engaging challenges to conventional wisdom, presenting a series of "myths" and then deploying an investigative journalism shovel to unearth "truth." This results in snappy debunkings of alarmism, witch-hunts, satanic ritual abuse prosecutions and marketing hokum like the irradiated-foods panic, homeopathic medicine and the notion that bottled water beats tap. Stossel's libertarian convictions make him particularly fond of exposes of government waste and regulatory fiascoes. Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


© 2009, by JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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