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Mr. Greenbucks Unspun - good for a chuckle
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"I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms. ... So the problem here is [that] something which looked to be a very solid edifice and, indeed, a critical pillar to market competition and free markets, did break down. And I think that, as I said, shocked me."

A remarkable admission from Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, long-time opponent of government regulation of the corporate world, and friend and devoted follower of Ayn Rand, the selfishness guru who turned the emulation of two-year olds into a philosophy of life. "I have found a flaw," said Greenspan, referring to his economic philosophy. "I don't know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact."7

Greenspan was induced into these admissions by tough questioning from congressmen at a hearing called in October to deal with the financial crisis. There was a time when Greenspan was looked upon as a guru by a largely unquestioning and unchallenging congress and media, no matter how dubious or obscure his pronouncements. He could have passed at times for Chauncey Gardener, the main character of the book and film “Being There”. Gardener, brought to life by Peter Sellers, was a simple man with very simple thoughts and behavior, who might have been considered to be borderline "retarded", but fortuitous circumstances and the deference toward him by those of insufficient intellect and/or courage resulted in him being thought of as brilliant by people in high positions.

There was one noteworthy exception to this delicate treatment of Greenspan. In July 2003, Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont faced the Fed chairman across the table at a congressional hearing and said:

“Mr. Greenspan, I have long been concerned that you are way out of touch with the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, that you see your major function in your position as the need to represent the wealthy and large corporations ... I think you just don’t know what’s going on in the real world. ... You talk about an improving economy, while we have lost 3 million private sector jobs in the last two years. Long-term unemployment has more than tripled. ... We have a $4 trillion national debt. 1.4 million Americans have lost their health insurance. Millions of seniors can't afford prescription drugs. Middle class families can't send their kids to college because they don't have the money to do that."

“Congressman," Greenspan replied, "we have the highest standard of living in the world.”

"No, we do not," insisted Sanders. "You go to Scandinavia, and you will find that people have a much higher standard of living, in terms of education, health care and decent paying jobs. Wrong, Mister."

Not accustomed to having to defend his profundities, Greenspan could do no better than to counter with: "We have the highest standard of living for a country of our size."8

This was quite a comedown from “in the world”, and inasmuch as the only countries of equal or larger population are China and India, with Indonesia being the fourth largest, Greenspan’s point is rather difficult to evaluate.

The idea that the United States has the highest standard of living in the world is one that is actually believed by numerous grownups in America, and most of them believe that this highest standard applies across the board. They're only minimally conscious of the fact that whereas they've made extremely painful sacrifices to send a child to university, and they often simply can't come up with enough money, and even if they can the child will be very heavily in debt for years afterward, in much of Western Europe university education is either free or eminently affordable; as it is in Cuba and was in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

The same lack of awareness about superior conditions in other countries extends to health care, working hours, vacation time, maternity leave, child care, unemployment insurance, and a host of other social and economic benefits.

In short, amongst the developed nations, the United States is the worst place to be a worker, to be sick, to seek a university education, to be a parent; or, in the land of two million incarcerated, to exercise certain rights or be a defendant in court.

To which the Chauncey Gardeners of America, including the one who used to sit in the Federal Reserve and the one presently sitting in the Oval Office, would say: “Duh! Whaddaya mean?”

From Blum's Anti-Empire Report http://www.killinghope.org/bblum6/aer63.html
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