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Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Outdated Information" and Larry Summers

According to Ezra Klein, President Obama really wants Larry Summers to be the next Fed Chair, but the Administration is calculating whether this "polarizing" choice would make them take a hit at a time when their approval is already low and any hope for a mid-term election result that enables any of Obama's agenda to get done in his second term requires a more than usually energized base on his side.

Klein writes:
On the merits, they think the preference many on the left have for Janet Yellen is a bit puzzling. Yellen and Summers are both strongly committed to reducing unemployment. They’re both committed to implementing Dodd-Frank -- as much as the left mistrusts Summers on financial regulation for his actions in the 1990s, the White House believes that he, like many others, is strongly committed to regulating Wall Street now. They see a lot of the opposition to Summers is based on bad or outdated information.
If this is an accurate reflection of White House thinking on this question I really must say the cluelessness and disdain is really flabbergasting. Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker puts most of my objections more pithily than I could hope to do when she writes:
Lawrence "Larry" Summers is the front-runner to succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve when he steps down in January, even though Janet Yellen is more qualified -- and doesn't think women are bad at math because they have puny ladybrains and selfishly choose to stay home and raise children. Why? Because Janet doesn't have a dick... [S]cores of experts think Yellen is the right person for the job... And yet! There's something about her that's just not "Federal Reserve-y" enough. What could it be? What differentiates her from every other person who has held the esteemed position? Oh, right: she's not a dude, as noted by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher, who suggested on CNBC that if Yellen is chosen, the pick will have been “driven by gender” even though she is "extremely capable." ... Larry Summers isn't just the lesser candidate based on economic knowhow -- he's a hopeless sexist who, while president of Harvard, notoriously argued that "innate" differences in sex may explain why there are fewer female higher-ups in science and math careers. (No mention of tests and grading systems that have been shown to be biased. No history of other activities people once claimed women couldn't handle because they weren't given the opportunity to do so, such as drive cars or vote.) During the same academic conference, he said women often choose to focus on their families rather than put their all into their careers. What about all the men who are able to focus so well because they have wives at home sacrificing their own careers to hold down the fort? Nope, no mention whatsoever... Do we really want the person in charge of making sure our country's economy isn't totally fucked beyond repair — already quite the challenge -- to be someone who believes half the population is kinda dumb? (It's not your fault, ladies. It's science.) Do we want that person to blow off the systemic underrepresentation of women, not just in the boy's club of monetary economics/Wall Street but in all relevant sectors of the economy? No. Even my feeble cavewoman brain is sure of that.
Lest you think the idiot tide of Larry Summers' evodevo evopsycho rationalizations for bigotry are confined to misogyny, do recall his 1991 internal World Bank memorandum, arguing for the transfer of waste and dirty industries from industrialized to developing countries: "Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?" wrote Summers, who went on to serve as Treasury Secretary for the Clinton administration, then president of Harvard University (well, president of Harvard's males at any rate), and then head of President Obama’s National Economic Council. "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that... I’ve always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low [sic] compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City." (This serially upwardly failing evil elitist asshole declared the memo "ironic" -- click the link and judge for yourself the masterly Swiftian satire.)

Note that "lesser developed countries" is a euphemism for over-exploited countries, and also note that in Summers' view here "impeccable economic logic" always demands that risks and costs be suffered by those who are too precarious to resist them and that benefits accrue to those who take none of those risks and pay few of those costs themselves. Note that people of color in over-exploited regions of the world apparently are not included in the "we" with which Larry Summers identifies, and that the amplified danger and suffering he think they should all be forced to face as a result of our own criminally irresponsible wastefulness and pollution is somehow not what "fac[ing] up to" the reality at hand means.

You will forgive me if I note that it is obviously Larry Summers who is peddling "outdated information" -- outdated by centuries. Still puzzled at our disapproval of your pet plutocratic bigot idiot asshole soopergenius, Mr President?

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