Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bernanke and Paulsen Suffer Fools Gladly

The Joint Economic Committee hearings have provided some redundant revelations. There’s politics going on down there in Congress. The idea I’m trying to convey is best represented by the well-known Senator Charles Schumer of New York. With the economic markets frozen solid, and the cameras trained upon him, Schumer always has time to play “Champion of the People.” He does this most often at the expense of the “people,” as he did today when he questioned the 700 billion dollar “bailout” program.

Yeah, I know! It’s the job of congress to protect the people’s money. It’s a little too late for that. Congress has been protecting “the little people” even while the wheels have come off the wagon and the horses have jumped off a cliff. Don’t the members of Congress have television sets at home? Or newspapers? It’s not as if any of this is hot news. The “stimulus package” couldn’t wake them up, either. Fact is, the Congress is just so much dead wood, except that you can burn dead wood, giving it some usefulness. Yet Congress just turns around and burns us, giving us incomprehensible babbling, part bromide and part bumper sticker. Did Schumer or any of his even less-informed brother asses ever hear of derivatives, credit-default swaps, hedge funds?

So now the members of Congress must grill Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson as if, yes, they really are in control of the government’s pursestrings. All I heard from Schumer was stupidity. Schumer had this idea of portioning the 700 bn asked for in “tranches.” His use of the term was malappropriate although he was trying to impress. “Tranche” is French, meaning “slice,” and is an specific investment activity with little connection to the dead-stop debt economy.

Believe me, the “little people” have nothing to gain by having Congress watching over their money, unless they want their finances monitored by proven idiots. Such were the questions posed to Paulsen and Bernanke that only that conclusion could be drawn. The best part of the proceedings was watching Bernanke and Paulsen controlling their faces while they listened to such uninformed idiocy. Paulsen appeared earnest. Bernanke appeared bemused. But both were clearly contemptuous, wondering perhaps how such mediocre intellects could have risen to such positions of power.

These Joint Economic Committee hearings are now spinning out of control, with many congress members pretending to ask sharp questions about things they don’t know to begin with. The best among the questioners at least admit that they don’t know. Others, like Schumer, regard the hearings as a political opportunity to score election points. Several members were permitted to expound at length on “the Bush administration policy.” Now that shows brilliance, doesn’t it? Gee, I thought Congress wrote the laws. And I thought Congress could have conducted hearings BEFORE the crisis unfolded. And I thought Congress could have initiated and led the activity. But not if its comprised of a bunch of economic dolts!

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