I’ve been off on my own blog for two years as of today. When one is my age, two years really isn’t very long. But in some ways it seems like forever ago, as much has changed since then. For instance, I kicked off my blog site with a djeeps-style common sense walkthrough of my opposition to a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution. I thought then, as I still do, that Federal spending isn’t the problem, but rather a symptom of the breakdown in the intended scope of government. The more it does, the more it spends. A highly energetic central government isn’t cheap maintain, especially in an age where one size doesn’t fit all and it is quite difficult to manage the multitudes of competing interests within an empire from a centralized point of view.
Looking back over some of my first posts, I realize how much I have learned over those two years since identifying the need to have my own area to express my thoughts and opinions after having my “friends” attempt to force me into their dogmatic mold and write what they wanted to read or suffer the consequences. The lessons weren’t just about economics, but also about myself and how little about how the world works (or can get broken) I actually knew. It was a stressful experience to be rejected by my political friends for having what seems to me as a common sense approach to conservatism regarding non-trivial matters such as monetary and social policy. The very people destroyed by their policy preferences are looked down upon and denigrated all because they ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time; and the more I learned about the monetary nature of the economic crisis the more I could no longer write what they wanted me to write. I had to find my own place to express my ideas, thus my blog was born. In retrospect, the experience was upsetting and stressful, but I think it has been an entirely beneficial one.
Since the start of my blog I have changed my political party affiliation which was a huge step for me as I had been active in the Republican Party for decades. I had volunteered my time to help many Republican candidates in many elections over the years, nearly since I was old enough to vote. But of course change is inevitable; and I never realized just how dogmatic and cold the party had become until it was overflowing the brim with incivility in reaction to the calamity of their own policies. They had conveniently forgotten that the economy was crashing down as G. W. Bush was headed out the door after having lost in 2006 and 2008 for a reason; a reason from which they still have not learned the right lessons.
I still agree with them, however, that Obama is an awful President. It’s just not for the same reasons. Bush and Obama are not all that different from one another on things that matter to everyday life. Neither man understands the difference between supply side and demand side inflation for instance. Thus, there isn’t enough space between them on the matter of monetary policy for a ray of sunshine to pass through. The monetary stupidity through which we have been living is entirely bipartisan, though I think the motivations for it are different. Republicans under Bush started it for dogmatic reasons, while I suspect Democrats enjoy the opportunity the effects tight money policy presents to expand government as they feed off public skepticism of capitalism and economic freedom to increase their own power.
I have many times wondered when someone would simply do the right thing because it is the right thing. I have come to understand, after two years of writing about it, that what little faith I had that someone would eventually force the issue of dysfunctional monetary policy to the front burner and do something about it was irrational and unfounded, no matter how many or how long average people have to suffer financially. It doesn’t even make the back page of the newspapers and never has all throughout this ongoing economic ordeal. I was hoping with every blog post I wrote over the course of the last two years that we were very close to seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and had little clue that after Bernanke’s tenure we would still not have the prospect of much better days ahead. But here we are with very little in the way of honesty about what went so terribly wrong as to cause and prolong the current economic crisis to be had.
Though, after having left the Federal Reserve, Bernanke is now at the Brookings Institute and I think it might say something about his present view of the political right in the very least. After all, he initially did what they wanted and they publicly denigrated him for subsequently trying to cure it. It isn’t every day angry mobs gather outside the Federal Reserve shouting obscenities (here and here too). I remember wishing to have been there shouting along with them, sharing the same sentiment but for different reasons (the EMH is probably more true than not!), but I couldn’t afford the gas to drive there. I wouldn’t be so bold, however, to think that his choice to join Brookings might involve more than the way the right treated him personally. I have never been kind to him either, thinking him as self-serving and cowardly for not taking responsibility for mistakes in the conduct of monetary policy and for the subsequent cover-up, allowing others to be blamed for magnitude of the crisis that ensued once he was aware of them. The mistakes are forgivable. His behavior afterward in addition to not cleaning up the mess by reforming the monetary policy framework so those mistakes never happen again are simply unredeemable as far as I am concerned. Even if he spent the entirety of the rest of his life trying to make up for it, the only possible way to achieve that in my eyes is to frankly admit what went wrong, why, and who told him to do it.
And really, those are the most important questions that will never have an answer. It doesn’t matter if loose policy caused people to take risks they might not have otherwise. I don’t happen to agree with that notion, instead believing that it was the magnitude and suddenness of monetary tightening that made otherwise productive investments appear to have been bad and willingness of the Fed to allow what may come as a result of the tightening, refusing to bend even an inch. They threw the baby out with the bathwater over a percentage or two of headline inflation and the decision to do that was made by someone. We should know who made that decision and why, though we likely never will.
It’s been a very long journey getting through the ordeal that has tried my ability to cope much more than anything I have ever dealt with. It has changed my outlook on life, opinion of government, and shaken my faith in institutions in ways that I could never have imagined. And it still is not over for me. It will take years to crawl out the crater that once was my financial life when I am already more into mid-life than not and don’t have that many years left to rebuild after dealing with the past. Knowing that it didn’t have to happen makes the fact that it did and that there are millions of people in the same predicament all the more difficult to accept – because it is unacceptable and it simply cannot be allowed to happen again. It is uncivil and immoral to do such a thing to people, far more evil than allowing a mild and temporary increase in inflation – and we should know who was behind it.