Friday, March 04, 2005

Go Already

Go Already
Posted by James Wolcott
From James Wolcott's blog

Used to be, when someone retired or something was cancelled, that was it, goodbye, sayonara, sorry to see you go, don't forget your scarf. Now everyone and everything gets an eternal farewell tour, or an endless sendoff at the departure dock. When long-running shows such as Dick Van Dyke or Gunsmoke went off the air, they simply went, there wasn't a national period of rumination and speculation as to what the last episode would hold for the characters "we've come to love." But ever since the last episode of M.A.S.H. was inflated into a cultural event, we've been subjected to closure on the installment plan. Hush-voiced announcers perform a solemn countdown in the network promos. "Only five more episodes of Friends before Ross stops whining forever..." "Only two more episodes before Star Trek: Enterprise faces its final frontier..." I thought CNN had cancelled Crossfire and The Capital Gang, yet everytime I stumble across their time slots, they're still on, as if nobody told them to clear out their yogurt cups from the green room minifridge. We'll never get rid of them.

This is why I dread the last year or so of Alan Greenspan's tenure at the Fed before he retires in 2006, assuming he doesn't ascend to heaven before then in a cone of light. Otherwise, we're stuck watching him shuffle in slow motion to the exit like that geezer Tim Conway used to play and listening to him mutter his fubsy equivocations as elected officials and a bovine press cling to his ankles begging him not to leave. What will we do without your guru wisdom? your guidance? No one in the history of public service has woven a thicker aura of bogus infallibility than Greenspan, which is why hail to Senate Democratic minority leader Harry Reid for blurting the bitter truth and calling Greenspan "one of the biggest hacks we have here in Washington."

It's one thing for Republicans to canonize Greenspan. He's their guy, a fundamentalist believer in the free market solution (a disciple of Ayn Rand, after all) who played coy when asked if he would have supported Social Security when it was first proposed. Of course, he would have opposed it, just as conservatives dream of dismantling it now. But as Dave Lindorff wrote in Counterpunch:

"Any Democrat who still offers praise for Alan Greenspan after his latest propaganda supporting the Bush attack on Social Security should be dumped by the party and voters alike.

"Greenspan has always been a Republican agent at the Federal Reserve, even in the Clinton years, but his support for private Social Security funds, and his latest warning that cuts in benefits for retirees need to be considered are both scientifically unjustified and unsupported, and politically craven, especially coming from a man who himself is already collecting the maximum Social Security benefit and who stands to walk away with a $100,000/year federal pension on top of that when he finally retires as Reserve Board chairman.

"Democrats in Congress have largely gone along with the charade that the reserve board chairman is above politics and that his deliberately chimerical statements on interest rates and fiscal and monetary policy are received wisdom.

"In fact, Greenspan contributed mightily to the collapse of the stock market following the popping of the Internet bubble, by failing to act to limit stock speculation in the mid and late 1990s--something he could have easily done without even touching interest rates, by simply increasing margin requirements on investors.

"His pronouncements on the financial stability of the Social Security system are no more prescient or sound than his economic forecasting skills, which have been repeatedly found wanting."

Alan Greenspan, pompous hack. Harry Reid, blunt hero.