The Austere Mr. Greenspan


“As a nation we may have already made promises to coming generations of retirees that we will be unable to fulfill.”

Alan Greenspan

“Greenspan urged Congress to cut the growth of Social Security and Medicare, warning that without immediate measures, the U.S. will face unsustainable deficits, rising long-term interest rates and slower growth in living standards.” (Reuters)

No one has taken on the task of bankrupting the US Treasury with greater zeal than Alan Greenspan. The wizened Fed-master has taken burgeoning budget surpluses and turned them into massive debt in less than four years.

Some readers will question whether or not Greenspan can be held responsible for the actions of the administration? But, it is the Fed’s monetary policy that enabled the Bush tax cuts to go forward and dump the country in a vat of red ink. Those tax cuts received the warm embrace of Alan Greenspan.

The Federal Reserve works hand-in-hand with the Washington policy-czars, keeping interest rates low when there are wars to be fought and ratcheting them up “sky-high” when anyone breathes a word about national health insurance.

Greenspan’s collusive relationship with the Bush Administration has left the country teetering on brink of insolvency. This provides the perfect opportunity to take the carving knife to the many social programs that Americans have come to depend on.

“If we have promised more than our economy has the ability to deliver to retirees without unduly diminishing real income gains of workers, as I fear we may have, we must recalibrate our public programs so that pending retirees have time to adjust through other channels,” Greenspan beamed at a recent appearance in front of Congress.

Here, the Fed-chief is attacking Social Security, the bane of conservatives who despise the notion that government should be involved in a national retirement program. Actually, it is nothing more than a safety net, sheltering the elderly from a future of abject destitution. Republicans traditionally prefer the Darwinian model that allows some to prosper through private investment while others look for a soft spot under a highway off-ramp.

Greenspan is simply carrying out the conservative mandate of “starving the beast”; the Reagan era mantra that exhorts leaders to dismantle government by generating enormous debt. This forces the government to cut back on heinous “socialistic” programs (re: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other Marxist spawns) and conveys government assets to the anxious hands of private industry. In fulfilling his role, Greenspan has emerged as the Patron Saint of corporate profits; the “High Priest” of personal accumulation. He has used his position to successfully navigate the nation’s wealth into the hip-pockets of the American aristocracy while appearing to be evenhanded and even, “grandfatherly”.

Greenspan hasn’t criticized exorbitant Bush Tax cuts which have savaged the treasury and sent deficits through the floor. Nor has he railed against an inflated military budget that sucks up more than half of every tax dollar contributed. He knows that those expenditures serve the greater interests America’s oligarchy; enriching the few and seizing resources in the third world.

No, he would rather take aim at those struggling programs that offer some modicum of support for needy citizens. Social “safety nets” are anathema to the “dog-eat-dog” world of conservatives; those resources would be better spent on subsidies, corporate welfare, high tech weaponry or, the biggest “black hole of all, the war on terror.

Ultimately, the gravity of Greenspan’s actions far surpasses the issues of wealth distribution, or whether America’s elderly will spend their waning years in dilapidated hovels without water or heat. His maneuverings are a threat to the basic principles of representative government. He knows as well as anyone that democracy can be effectively undermined by eviscerating economic solvency. “Massive debt” transfers power to unelected authorities and creates a slavish relationship between the citizen and state creditors. (Those creditors, in turn, seize anything of value and sell it back to the citizen at twice the price.)

This is the real danger of Greenspan; he is putting democracy in a “hammerlock” and delivering the nation into the foul grip of the banking establishment and their brother-in-arms’, corporate America.

As the debt increases, our prospects grow dimmer.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com



More articles by:

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach