Member preview

Paul Volcker’s reconfirmation hearing in 1983. (Note the person smoking in the far background.)

One Of Our All-Time Heroes Explains Everything In Two Blistering Sentences

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker Led The Charge And Won The Battle Against Inflation In The Early 80s, So Decisively It Hasn’t Been An Issue Since

And his strategy — considered pretty radical at the time, because it calculatedly plunged the country into a Recession (kind of like doctors sometimes put patients into a medically induced coma) — laid the foundation for the decades of near-continuous economic expansion that followed, and we’re still in right now. Volcker was also known for his forthright and combative style, not typical of Federal Reserve Chiefs, who often tend to speak cryptically and in measured tones.

And this is what Volcker has to say right now about the current political and economic situation in this country:

We’ve got an enormous number of enormously rich people that have convinced themselves that they’re rich because they’re smart and constructive. And they don’t like government, and they don’t like to pay taxes.”

The 91-year old ex-Fed chief talked to the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, previewing a book he just wrote.

Volcker’s says: “We’re in a hell of a mess in every direction”, and the only possible fix involves respect and refocus:

“Everybody talks about monetary policy….but the lesson of all this is we need better, stronger supervisory powers.”

But of course we’ve got a President right now who is furiously and recklessly deregulating, and chopping oversight of virtually everything. And is also very effective at convincing large sections of the public that what the super-rich want is what they want also. Which leads us back to a point we often make, because we’re enemies of over-regulation and overly-big government too. It’s that regulation is not the same thing as over-regulation and this administration is treating it that way right now. Regulation is necessary because history has shown that without it people — especially greedy people — misbehave and see what they can get away with. A good example is President Nixon’s decision to start the Environmental Protection Agency (which Trump is currently busy dismantling). That happened not because Nixon was a tree-hugging hippie, but because promises by industry to “self-regulate” were an abject failure; a point driven home when the Cuyahoga river in Ohio caught on fire.

Add to that a Supreme Court that’s given the super-rich an even bigger voice by allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money influencing elections, and on campaigns to seat judges who support their agenda, and on promoting more restrictive voting rules. Rick Hasen has a good story on voting rules that’s also worth reading today. We were quite taken as well with this compelling thread from VoteRiders about difficulties encountered by one woman in Wisconsin who wants to vote, but now has to clear new hurdles in the form of acquiring ID she doesn’t have, and couldn’t come by easily.

Yes, we realize this isn’t journalistic and VoteRiders is at least partly using her story to try to raise money. We have no official affiliation with the group, but we like them, and all they’re really trying to do is get citizens the right ID they need to exercise their right to vote. And there’s no question that’s a struggle for many this year. And that’s no coincidence.

kkPresident Obama brought Volcker into the White House in 2009, to help out with setting the economy right after the 2008 Recession