Monday, October 19, 2009

Sometimes the Right Man for the Job is a Woman

Margaret Thatcher famously once said, "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. "  These days, with all the controversy swirling up around this financial crisis, we hear a lot of rhetoric from political and economic authorities that , in polite terms, I regard as less than inspiring.  Look at the rogues gallery of players on whom we are relying to navigate our way out of this mess; men like Tim Geithner, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Charlie Rangel and Larry Summers.  On the whole, a bunch of weasely politicians and tax cheats.  I've intentionally left out Fed Chairman Bernanke, because he is neither of those things.  I haven't decided in my own mind if he's a good guy or a bad guy in this film.  There's a lot of suspicion in some circles about the actions of the Federal Reserve, and its lack of transparency.  I don't understand it well enough to know where the truth lies, so I'll reserve my judgment for now.  I guess we'll have to wait until the end of the movie to find out.  Geithner may be a good guy too, but he's still a tax cheat.  Nobody's perfect.  There's good and bad in all of us.  For all I know, Joseph Stalin liked puppies and little children.  But I digress.  There are a couple of players in this drama who actually seem worthy of the authority and the trust we have placed in them.   They are both experienced and thoroughly qualified for their jobs.  They both speak with honesty and candor when dealing with the public, and they are both women. 

Elizabeth Warren is chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).  She is a  professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law.  She is also an advocate of President Obama's proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency legislation.  From what I can tell, I'd guess that her politics are more liberal than I'd typically be comfortable with, but the focus of her efforts seems to be to counter the powerful influence of big banks.  Who better to perform the function of watchdog over the banks than someone who apparently regards the big banks as a bunch of unprincipled sleazebags.  I'm a big believer in free markets, but I too regard the big banks as a bunch of sleazebags.  In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith warned, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." Free markets still require prudent regulation to protect the public against depredation by big business.  I'm not willing to drink the Kool-Aid on everything professor Warren supports, but hers is at least a reasonable voice in the debate.  See what you think.

Sheila Bair is chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  She is also a lawyer and has been a professor teaching Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  She has held a number of responsible positions both in and out of government including several years on the staff of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas.  She unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 1990 for Kansas' Fifth Congressional District. 

Here is a sampling of what they have to say.

Elizabeth Warren

More from Elizabeth Warren           Or You Can Check C-Span
Or You Can Check YouTube

Sheila Bair

More From Sheila Bair On C-Span     Or You Can Check YouTube