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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2009 / 29 Kislev 5770

The Rock Chunkers

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's cast-the-first-stone time in Washington. It happens every time a war or an economic recovery stalls. That's when the most immediate political need is for a scapegoat on whom to blame the country's troubles — economic, military or any other kind. And out come the Rock Chunkers all ready to start throwing.


Those given to assigning blame for the Crisis of the Moment never have a problem nominating an arch-villain. Herbert Hoover fit the bill for almost two decades. Whatever was wrong with the economy was his fault, just as all wars were the result of the munitions manufacturers. Congressional hearings became less like investigations and more like exorcisms. The aim wasn't to identify problems and propose solutions but to root out evil spirits.


For a while there, George W. Bush was to blame for all of America's troubles and, if he wasn't, surely Dick Cheney was. At least till the Surge they proposed worked in Iraq. The Rock Chunkers never did have the grace to admit they'd been wrong. Instead, they just fell silent. Or changed the subject to Hurricane Katrina.


Now, as economic problems linger at home, happy days are clearly not here again — no matter how many jobs have been saved, created or just imagined. And so the financial geniuses in Congress have turned their ire on the secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, and his senior partner in economic management, Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve.


Bankers always did make the best scapegoats when money is scarce. Or for that matter when it's so plentiful that inflation threatens to undermine the value of the currency. Or, as during the Carter Stagflation, both dangers threaten. Whatever the bankers do, have done, or propose to do, it's wrong. Or at least a congressional committee can be found to say so.


In the House, the Financial Services Committee wants to audit the Fed's decisions about which banks to save and which not. So much for the confidentiality that every central bank needs to remain effective, for the surest way to start a run on a bank would be to have the Fed release a list of all the ones it's worried about.


Nor is the committee happy about the way the Federal Reserve sets interest rates. The congressmen seem to think they could do a better job, which would be a dandy way to politicize the whole economy. One of the great advantages of having an independent central bank is that it is independent. And so not subject to political pressure, at least in theory.


Meanwhile, over in the Senate, the Banking Committee would relieve the Federal Reserve of the tedious job of supervising banks, which some of us thought was the Fed's principal purpose. That's almost as good an idea as proposing that the FBI no longer fight crime.

Letter from JWR publisher


H.L. Mencken is credited with saying it: "For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple — and wrong." If unhappy with the economy, then just fire everybody responsible for policing it. Or at least haul them before congressional committees for a little abuse.


Secretary Geithner has made his mistakes, all right, and how. His big mistake, from which so many others sprang, was to believe that another Great Depression was upon us rather than just an old-fashioned financial panic. And that in response government needed to take over one industry after another — rather than just stick to stabilizing the country's banking system. That's how we got Government Motors and are about to get Government Medicine. Not to mention a government that wants to micromanage banks, set corporate salaries and bonuses, hire and fire execs, and, oh, yes, re-inflate the housing market. (Isn't that how we got into this mess in the first place?)


Mr. Geithner responded to congressional rants for his scalp by mounting a counter-rant of his own. When a GOP congressman from Texas demanded that he resign, Mr. Geithner fired back: "You gave this president an economy falling off the cliff."


Watching this secretary of the Treasury blame others for the country's economic problems, an innocent observer might never suspect that, for the five years before the Panic of '08 struck, this same Timothy Geithner had been president of the Federal Bank of New York — the outfit that's supposed to keep Wall Street from taking wild risks. Instead, he was cheering on the speculators as they took flyers on ever newer and chancier financial instruments.


Turn the clock back to May of 2007, the year before the ceiling fell in on all those clever hedge funds and their oh-so-ingenious bundles of housing loans that were about to go disastrously bad.


"Changes in financial markets," Mr. Geithner assured a conference on the subject at the time, "have improved the efficiency of financial intermediation and improved our confidence in the ability of markets to absorb stress."


What, Timothy Geithner worry? On the contrary, as he also told the conference, "The larger global financial institutions are generally stronger in terms of capital relative to risk. Technology and innovation in financial instruments have made it easier for institutions to manage risk."


Really? Compared to Timothy Geithner, or at least the one in May of 2007, Pollyanna was a sober realist.


Now he says it was others who drove the economy over a cliff, especially if those others now demand his resignation.


Yet our secretary of the Treasury, for all his gaffes and hasty over-reactions, did not make the worst mistake in the midst of a financial panic, and that would have been to do nothing. At such times, it is important to do [ital]something — [unital]even if it's wrong. So people know the country still has a government and, even more important, one capable of taking action.


In the Panic of 1907, all it took to restore stability was one private citizen with the resources, the influence, the intelligence, the know-how and the willingness to use it: John Pierpont Morgan. He also had the experience for the job, for the same financier had once before saved the U.S. Treasury — during the Panic of 1893.


During the Panic of 2008-09, neither Timothy Geithner nor Ben Bernanke has been a J. P. Morgan, but at least they didn't just stand there, like Herbert Hoover's paralyzed secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon. All he could do was just keep repeating: "Liquidate, liquidate, liquidate!" Stocks, real estate, farms, banks, everything had to go. He seemed to be proposing a fire sale of the whole country. As advice, Mr. Mellon's counsel amounted to a recipe for disaster. And despair.


Let it be said that Secretary Geithner and his ardent critics do share some common ground. Both agree that the economy's problems are the other's fault. Wasn't there a time when leaders tried to solve problems rather than allot blame? Well, maybe Alexander Hamilton's. But that was long ago, and America's first secretary of the Treasury had a country to build rather than divide.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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