I fret too much and too often.  I am a worrywart.

Overall, the Federal Reserve leader Ben Bernanke’s interview on “60 Minutes” last evening was forthright, rational and uplifting.  There were two tidbits that he spoke about though that caused me some agita.  To begin with, Bernanke said of this recession, in response to Scott Pelley’s question:

“What are the dangers now? What keeps you up at night?” Pelley asked.

Bernanke answered:

“I think the biggest risk is that, you know, we don’t have the political will. We don’t have the commitment to solve this problem, and that we let it just continue. In which case, you know, we can’t count on recovery,” Bernanke said.

Remember right before we entered into our current war with Iraq and Colin Powell  said that the most important element that will decide our course of success will be the “generational commitment” to our fighting in the Middle East,  to promoting democracy and nation building in that region?  Taking his cue from Boss Bush, Powell went on to comment that the American people do not have a proven history or taste for patience and fortitude with regard to long, drawn out and deadly wars.  He asked for the public’s support should the Iraq war drag on.  And so it did, despite Bush’s lack of foresight, intellect and propriety when he announced a few months later, aboard an aircraft carrier , “Mission accomplished.”

Last night we heard Bernanke speak  again about America’s need for long-term commitment, this time to the recovery plan, not an egotistical war.  Even though Bernanke inspired a whole lot more confidence than Bush did, I shivered a little at his verbiage and concept because it echoed those of Powell.

The second comment made by Bernanke that caused me some nausea was:

“But the ….  final thing I’d just like to say to the American People is that I have every confidence that this economy will recover, and recover in a strong and sustained way. The American people are among the most productive in the world. We have the best technologies. We have great universities. We have entrepreneurs. I just have every confidence that as we get through this crisis, that our economy will begin to grow again, and it will remain the most powerful and dynamic economy in the world.”

Once again, the superlative is the only way for America to survive and exist and, as we have witnessed this last year, it is this exact superlative principle that almost was the death of America.  Why oh why, must we always have uninterrupted growth?  Why oh why must we always be the “best”, the “most dynamic and powerful” force in the world?  Perhaps our habit of setting up impossible standards has been the real culprit in creating our culture of greed and corruption, and thus, our fall from grace.  Let us be content with a stable economy, one that shows steady growth, but not persistent, explosive, unregulated and suspect expansion.  We have learned firsthand the kind of trouble that can cause.

Thus, I worry.  Are past practices always indicative of future results?  Yet I am hopeful for Bernanke’s and Obama’s recovery plan.  I will suspend my negativity and place some trust in their hands.  Certainly these men both bring to the table personal qualities that are far removed from those embodied by Bush.  In fact, President Obama finally came to the party today when he addressed AIG’s outrageous behavior, as reported by Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama, trying to contain a political firestorm, said he has instructed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “pursue every legal avenue” to block $165 million in bonuses to American International Group executives who were in part responsible for the company’s near collapse.

“This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed,” Obama planned to say ahead of announcing a plan to rescue small businesses through a raft of new lending options, according to prepared remarks released by the White House. “Under these circumstances, it’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?”

“This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values,” he added.

Hallelujah!  Glory be!  Imagine that: fundamental values.  So I will hope for the best but continue to worry about realizing the worst.


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