Holiday Praise for Alan Greenspan, for Protecting the Rich (fwd)

Frances Bolton (PHI) fbolton at
Tue Dec 8 17:25:46 PST 1998

> Praise to Alan Greenspan, for Protecting the Rich
> by Michael M. Thomas
> This column is being written in advance of the Great American Holiday
> of Thanksgiving, but won't appear until afterward. Still, the sentiment
> is there. Herewith, a few chestnuts which, in a just world, would be
> stuffed up the orifices of the turkeys concerned.
> Let us give thanks for the good fortune that enabled (so reports a
> well-placed Greenwich, Conn., source in disgust) various, perhaps most
> partners of Long-Term Capital Management to move key assets into their
> wives' names before the firm's collapse. The sort of assets that keep a
> lad and lady climbing in and out of limousines, the funds necessary to
> call for the check opening night at Daniel, the golf club
> subscriptions paid up, the Costa Ricans assiduously clipping the
> manicured hedges and lawns, the money that lets the partners' wives
> keep shopping without missing a beat. For His bounties to such as
> these, thanks be to God.
> Let us also give thanks for the New Deal, which set the precedent for
> the Welfare and Family Assistance programs to which the immediate
> victims of Long-Term Capitals failure can thankfully turn this holiday
> season: the firms secretaries, its clerks and back-office help,
> including the boy who made sure the caviar in the executive
> refrigerator was the proper temperature (before the sturgeon eggs were
> hastily redistributed along Round Hill Road, that is). For His mercy
> in looking out for the little people, thanks be to God.
> Let us raise our voices to give thanks on behalf of these people, and
> their families, and the banks that hold the mortgages on their modest
> houses in Pelham and Stamford, and the issuers of their credit cards.
> They are probably in no mood to celebrate Thanksgiving themselves, in
> no mood to rejoice that through the miracle of sheer good timing, the
> children of John Meriwether's partners will still get their holiday ski
> trips and BMWs while their own will go toyless (try explaining to a
> 7-year-old that food stamps under the tree is the way Christmas is
> supposed to work in a proper postmodern capitalist economy). But it is
> the will of God, as we have been told since 1982, that the rich set a
> motivating example to the less fortunate. Such is the gospel of
> Comparative Advantage. For giving even to the least among us the eyes
> to see that it must be so, thanks be to God.
> Let us give thanks for a system that permits the fat cats to strut in
> Armani after failed trillion-dollar desperation bets on
> mortgage-backed securities, and the bankers who financed those bets
> with money backed by the taxpayers to get in their Thanksgiving paddle
> tennis in Locust Valley, while the little people who availed
> themselves of the mortgages that back those securities may lose their
> houses, along with the (Van Heusen) shirts off their backs. No risk,
> no reward: ah, yes, thanks be to God.
> Let us give thanks that we don't have to trouble our own digestions by
> demanding certain knowledge that we ought to have. Such as (this time
> I'm going to put it in capital letters): WHAT DID GREENSPAN KNOW AND
> WHEN DID HE KNOW IT? Or this one: Why has no list of the investors in
> Long-Term Capital, the true beneficiaries of the bailout, been
> published? Might anyone or any institution affiliated with The New
> York Times or other major media have been an investor in Long-Term
> Capital? For seeing that our minds not be clouded with such questions
> (let alone the answers), or by silly, misleading terms like
> "fraudulent conveyance," thanks be to God.
> Let us give thanks indeed for our great media. An uninformed polity is
> the key to global capitalism and those who pluck the sweetest
> harmonies from its strings. People who know nothing can be made to
> believe anything. The mystic chords of memory must be raised to a
> frequency only dogs can hear. Such is the gospel of postmodern
> capitalism, its Beatitudes and Commandments, as vouchsafed to Alfred
> E. Newman as he slouched toward Bethlehem on his skateboard to be
> born, unworried to the very last. Such is the gospel our media go
> forth to spread; Such is the work of the Lord--apparently. There is not
> one among us who should not daily kneel and say: For Barbara Walters
> and our anchor people and our talking heads, for Peter and Tom and Dan
> and Jerry (as in Springer), for newspapers that give us the skinny on
> the latest in vulval depilatory fashions while children grow hungry
> and white-collar criminals gorge, thanks be to God.
> Let us indeed give thanks for the wisdom and vision of Alan Greenspan.
> Is it thanks to Thy enlightenment, perhaps visited upon him in a
> moment of awful clarity, as he paused from licking the boots of Wall
> Street and raised his face to heaven, that he alone was vouchsafed to
> gaze upon the secret, terrible face of the sibyl? That, alone among
> men (and that race of beings we call "economists"), he was given to
> see that it is possible to have inflation in the face of a worldwide
> capacity glut? That the way to keep highly contingent inflation out of
> the goods and services sector, and thus out of the statistics
> confected for public consumption by an administration of charlatans
> and liars and bought men, is to get the money out of the wallets of
> the middle class, those greedy, inflation-inspiriting purchasers of
> goods and services, and export it into the private banking accounts of
> the well-to-do? That his mission on earth was to export the world's
> wealth from the paychecks of the humble to the portfolios of the rich
> by creatingwith the connivance of the media--a stock market which must
> seduce the groundlings into pouring their treasure into it? For the
> blessings of Thy wisdom, selectively bestowed, and on behalf of those
> who especially enjoy His mercies (and Alans), thanks be to God.
> Let us also give thanks that Thou hast seen fit to outfit the Blessed
> Alan with the tongues of men and angels, so that he might go up the
> marble mountain and speak to the people thus: "Some members [of the
> Federal Reserve Board] were concerned that [the Oct. 13 interest rate
> cut] might be misread as indicative of a degree of concern about
> prospective developments in financial markets or the economic outlook
> the easing actions under consideration were more likely to help settle
> volatile financial markets and cushion the effects of more restrictive
> financial conditions on the ongoing expansion."
> What is spoken in the tongues of angels is intended only for angels to
> understand, but let me give it a try. "The economy is tanking, which
> is exactly what is wanted by the Street and the other big players, who
> have nothing to do with jobs (jobs are something that clerks and
> secretaries have; players have accounts). A decelerating economy means
> easier money with which to leverage the Streets plays. Keeping those
> plays solvent and liquid is the main, if not sole, job of the Fed; I
> am Central Banker to the people in the same spirit that Bud Selig is
> Baseball Commissioner to the fans.
> "Besides, I sure as hell don't want any responsibility for the bursting
> of the stock-market bubble my easy-money policies--targeted, through the
> banks and brokerages, to end up in the right pocketshave brought
> about. When, as will surely someday come about, they start to draw up
> the passenger lists for the tumbrils, I don't want to see my name at
> the top!" When the clarification has to be almost as incomprehensible
> as the gobbledygook that produced it, we are in the presence of true
> genius. For the visitation of such genius upon our humble house of
> state, thanks be to God.
> Let us give thanks for blessings still to come, or so we are told by
> million-dollar-a-year anchor people whose Federal Communications
> Commission-"comped" networks pick up their Visa bills. When the Fed
> cut rates again recently, the evening news anchor people predicted
> that the cut will soon show up in "our" credit card statements, auto
> loans and mortgages. Don't hold your breath: It will show up in the
> rate the Kohlberg Kravis Robertses and Forstmann Littles and Long-Term
> Capitals pay on their leveraged investments, which are fully
> tax-deductible, incidentally, as yours and my auto payments, credit
> card finance charges, etc., are not. It will enhance the Long-Term
> Capital bailout. But it will be a cold day in speculator heaven when
> it shows up on your and my Visa bills. For giving us the patience to
> endure this state of inequity without shooting someone, thanks be to
> God.
> Finally, let us give thanks that we the people have been blessed by
> God with a forgiving kindness like unto His own, so that we stand at
> all times ready to look beyond the quirks of our great men and women.
> A people less godlike in their mercy might not forgive a President who
> is a liar, a cheat, a philanderer and who probably sold military
> secrets to the Chinese in exchange for campaign contributions. Or a
> Central Bank chairman who is butt-boy to the rich and connected, and
> who conducts bailout transactions with the Peoples Money without
> telling the People what's going on. By forgiving these men, we forgive
> ourselves for putting up with them, and thus bolster our collective
> self-esteem. Such is the wish of the Lord, as read in the exit polls:
> for which, thanks be to God.
> This column ran on page 1 in the 12/7/98 edition of The New York
> Observer.
> <>
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