Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bernanke Time's Man of the Year

Ben Bernanke is Time's Man of the Year. I'm not competent to judge the economics, but I'm good with this choice. A lot of people complained about the bail outs because they weren't fair, and they weren't.

But that wasn't the question. The question was what needed to be done for the economy to rebound, and, despite the mistakes they no doubt did make here and there, it would seem they took appropriate action... and by "they," I mean not only Bernanke, but the Bush and Obama administrations that straddled the crisis.

Good leadership involves compromise and doing what can and must be done, no matter what the ideal is or even what is most just and fair. Some is better than none, unless the some is a step back. Mr. Smith should not be in Washington. His type downs the plane in the name of ideals and a perfection that will never, ever happen in Washington or in any human institution (yes, that includes the church).

And those who cannot meet in the middle, compromise to get some rather than all of what they think is needed, are generally dangerous, especially the more important the decisions at hand. In my mind, this is part of why the British lost the Revolutionary War and why the Nazis lost WW2. My response to idealists: "Nuts."

10 comments:

Jason A. Staples said...

Interesting thoughts. I would argue almost exactly the opposite, that Bernanke and the Bush/Obama administrations showed a tremendous failure of nerve in not allowing the economy to crash the way it should have, setting the USA up for far worse damage in the future. Choosing not to go for a Keynesian stimulus would have been quite unpopular (they would have been criticized for "doing nothing"), but it would have been the right thing to do. Unfortunately, we'll pay dearly in the future for what they did do.

Ken Schenck said...

It would be interesting to weigh the respective losses hypothetically. It reminds me of a discussion I recently had with my daughter. We bought her a used car fairly cheaply, which a little over a year later is needing fixed. She suggested if we had bought a better car, we wouldn't be having to spend the money now. I suggested in return that if we hadn't, she would not have a car yet. :-)

Somehow I can't imagine that the cost in human suffering is worth any slow crisis that would inevitably come from it. This is my problem with hard core economists. They generally don't seem to give a rip about the human cost. It's all about the numbers.

Ken Schenck said...

Came across this segment from that teacher of us all, that great drop-out pain killer addict of America, instructing us all on the pitfalls of Kineesian economics: Limbaugh on Kineesian economics.

John Mark said...

Ken, I think it would be very helpful for a man of your intellect and education to do some posting about the intersection between politics, sociology and theology. How much does one influence the other, for example? This may seem a bit off topic for your post, but the post is what prompted my thought.
How can we have arrived at a place were we have two camps of people who claim to be devout Christians (however they define this) who see eye to eye on almost nothing? It's abortion vs. war, and big government vs. big business, and so on with a lot (at times) of caricature painting on both sides.
BTW, our president is on record as saying, as you well know, that though humans are not perfect, the human condition is. Sounds pretty idealistic to me.
Time will tell whether or not the current economic policies are 'good for America' or not; I'm not smart enough to weigh in on it.

Craig Moore said...

Ken, I am very disappointed in you. You are a distinquished scholar and Dean of a seminary. You are also a "entirely sanctified" Wesleyan who has been set free from sin and have the ability to practice perfect love. How could you speak so harshly about El Rushbo? If the things you say are true, wouldn't your prayers be more in order instead of these demeaning comments about him? Tolerance & mercy seems to not be a quality you have for those you do not agree with or approve of.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I think that Obama is the idealist when he talks about Utopian dreams of peace and goodwill. We will never have that in this life, that is IF we remain free to dissent, disagree and voice our differences...

Ken Schenck said...

Some are delivered by prayer and fasting... others by changes in medication :-)

Craig Moore said...

Hey, I like the way you think. I can't wait to hear more about the new cutting edge "Holiness Pill Theology" coming out of IWU. Maybe after I take one I will have my sinful inclination eradicated and begin to think like you guys. Oh, such knowledge is to high, I can not attain it:) Merry Christmas

Ken Schenck said...

The announcement wasn't supposed to come out till Easter Sunday. It targets the amygdala in the limbic system...

Jason A. Staples said...

Interesting point about "human cost" versus "the numbers." They're not always in opposition, though I do think they can be.

In this kind of case, I think the damage in the future will significantly impact humans and cause far more suffering than allowing this smaller crash to take more of a normal course would have. These are obviously debatable points, but I think the only way to have a productive debate on this is to discuss the numbers involved, since those numbers (like job losses, etc.) tend to correlate with human suffering and human cost.

One of the more ironic aspects of the Keynesian stimulus mentality is that it is often pushed by those who claim to be "for the little guy," though the stimulus money goes towards the biggest of the big (like the bank bailouts, for example) in the hopes that it will "trickle down" to help the rest of the economy. Interesting to see "liberals" making use of "trickle down economics," no?