Monday, April 07, 2008

Greenspan Endorses Man Who Knows Nothing About the Economy

Andrea Mitchell's husband, Alan Greenspan, whose lack of integrity on tax policy has given us mounting debt as far as the eye can see, is endorsing John McCain. The Huffington Post has the story from Reuters and includes Greenspan's growing obliviousness to cause and effect:
There is more than a 50 percent chance the United States could go into recession, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan told El Pais newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

Greenspan, the U.S. Fed chairman from 1987 to 2006, endorsed the Republican presidential candidate....

Republican economics is a failure. The presidency of George W. Bush is a failure. And yet, John McCain, who wishes to continue many of Bush's policies, including more war in Iraq and elsewhere, and who admits he knows nothing about economics, is getting a growing number of endorsements. Our nation is on *TILT* and there is a chance the idiocy will continue.

I mention Andrea Mitchell, a reporter I once respected maybe ten to fifteen years ago, because of a post today by Digby. I'm not a great fan these days of Hillary Clinton but she may have gotten a bum rap this time around on the hospital story. The real story on Hillary is not that she hung on to Mark Penn too long but that she could have easily won the nomination with a more realistic and updated campaign (see this post in Talking Points Memo).

But there were major signs over the last two years that Hillary Clinton was falling behind in her awareness of a number of issues, including in particular Iraq and energy. No doubt political triangulation played a role, but I'm still surprised at how hard she fought for ethanol despite the many obvious problems (there may still be a small role for ethanol in our need for new energy but a small role is all it can be) and despite the need for a more comprehensive energy plan.

The people over at The Oil Drum are working hard on a variety of energy issues. I spent some time going over this article and this article today. They're abstract to some degree but essential reading for those who need to catch up on energy issues. One of the points made was that we have known we had an energy problem for more than thirty years and have blindly insisted on doing little. We cannot afford that any longer.

We're heading for hard times. How it's all going to unfold is hard to say. In fact, if we're very lucky and get some competent leadership in Washington, the current recession might be mitigated sooner than later and the hard times I'm talking about will come later. If we're lucky. If we can wait a year for competent leadership to show up. Assuming it does show up. Which it won't if McSame is elected.

I'm optimistic by temperament but I'm capable of looking at brutally hard facts. Here's something to think about. Anyone willing to pay attention has known for centuries that wars cause shortages, particularly shortages of food. At the end of World War I, there were major food shortages in Europe. Without computers we, meaning the United States, figured out how much food was needed, where to get it and where to send it. We understood the problems very well. And that was almost a hundred years ago.

One of the dirtiest secrets of World War II was that German army knew that if Hitler insisted on a war with Russia, there was a reasonable chance, if the war lasted two or three years, that 20 million people would die in Eastern Europe from famine. The logistics people in the German army had calculated the numbers. The army knew.

I'm not talking about the Nazis or the SS. I'm talking about Germany's military professionals. They pointed to the Nazis and the SS for the crimes that followed but they knew what was likely to come before they ever crossed the Russian frontier. The point? I have no doubt any number of people know what problems we're facing worldwide and too many of them are sitting on the numbers. If Americans and people everywhere want a halfway decent future, they better start doing a better job of digging out the facts. They can't keep relying on the know nothings like George W. Bush and John McCain.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

"At the end of World War I, there were major food shortages in Europe."

At the end of WWI Germans were literally starving. Worse, even, than at the end of WWII.

Regarding Greenspan, I have to wonder if he and other Wall Street moneymen and women aren't hoping they can do with McCain on economic policy what Cheney, Wolfowitz and the neocon reality makers did with George W. Bush's empty head on world affairs. That is, pour in what they want and expect.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W., thanks for the comments. I suspect you're right about McCain. Greenspan is certainly an odd duck and I have no use for him and his hardnosed ideas about protecting wealth and shrinking the government but I suspect his ideas are merely bad compared to the draconian ideas of other right-wing economists who would like to do to the US what the IMF and World Bank have done to third world countries. To impose those draconian ideas usually requires a damaged economy. We're just about there it seems.

There's a hardness to some of these Milton Friedman characters that's antisocial, undemocratic and poisonous as they try to create some sort of aristocratic buccaneer society. Bush wants to be like the Saudis and perhaps he thinks McCain can continue to move things in that direction. Because of the name of my blog, I keep getting hits from the Arab world from people looking up donkey labor. Donkey labor is a derogatory term for cheap labor.

By the way, you're right that starvation was less at the end of World War II than it was at the end of World War I. However, starvation during World War II was quite high in eastern Europe. Nazi food distribution, or lack thereof, was intimately tied to the Jewish ghettos, the Holocaust itself, slave labor, the Russian POW camps and the multi-ethnic concentration camps. Even among those not interned or put in ghettos, the numbers were significant, particularly in large towns and cities with the elderly, new mothers and the very young being the most vulnerable. I could say much more but it's a very ugly subject.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Craig, deliberate starvation by the Nazis was by no means limited to the Holocaust campaign against Jews.

From September 1941 to January 1944, Germans had Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) under siege — nearly 900 days. Hitler's orders included "reducing" the city so once it was in Nazi hands there would be as few people to feed as possible.

Before it was over, the poor people of that city were eating dogs and making bread with wood shavings. Outside the concentration camps, it had to be the cruelest, most deadly and long-running siege in modern history. And, of course, the death toll was horrendous.

It's unfortunate that most Americans have no idea what happened there and inexcusable it's barely mentioned, if mentioned at all, in high school history courses.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Re: Friedman and his disciples. I see them as ignorant, arrogant elitists with a perverse understanding of economics and a myopic, distorted grasp of history. They are people who seek to justify their core selfishness by morphing selfishness into some kind of social virtue, despite overwhelming evidence it's no such thing.

Like holding a crucifix up to a vampire, I like to come back at them with Molly Ivins' deceptively simple, yet diabolically profound, statement: "We all do better when we all do better.

12:12 PM  

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