Hot off the presses! Trump has announced his latest appointee to the Federal Reserve Board, the governing body of America’s central bank, analogous to the Bank of Canada except with decision-making authority that could immolate the global economy overnight, or, in a pinch, rescue it, like it did in 2008.
And now: heeeeeeeers Stephen Moore!!!!!
Wait, what? Who? You might well arsk. Stephen Moore, described in an article on Daily Beast as a “non-economist who plays one on television” is, well, the biggest idiot to wield power in the Age of Trump since the last idiot Trump appointed to anything. He’s one of those guys that has a mystifying tendency to keep floating around inside the Fox News bubble, like the execrable Sebastian Gorka, so patently a partisan moron and full of old rope that you wonder how even the modern right wing, with its deep hatred of true subject matter experts, can tolerate his ridiculous yapping.
He predicted that the economic policies of George W. Bush would usher in a virtually ever-lasting economic boom, just before the 2008 meltdown that almost left you and me arguing about which makes the better blade for bringing down moose, flint or obsidian? (Obsidian, ideally, but it’s tough to find). He echoed a lot of right wing hacks in predicting that the “quantitative easing” that was carried out by the Fed under Obama, a desperate but generally successful measure to spur economic recovery – printing scads of money and injecting it into the system, essentially – would lead to runaway inflation, just like in pre-war Germany. He was with mental wizard Glenn Beck on that one. He knows so little about his subject that he might as well rail on about particle physics while he’s at it, being about as insightful about macro-economics as GOP Senator James Inhofe was about climate change, when he hauled a genuine Washington snowball into the Senate Chamber to prove global warming was a hoax.
Paul Krugman, the exceedingly well-versed, Nobel-winning economics writer for the New York Times, almost had kittens when he learned of Moore’s appointment, describing him as “manifestly, flamboyantly unqualified for the position”, and “almost surreally unqualified”:
Just another day in Donald’s realm of Only the Best People, folks. Having someone like this within anything approaching artillery range of the Fed’s Board of Governors is objectively terrifying, but we’re all just so numb these days, aren’t we, and I didn’t really get that old, familiar surge of acid reflux until I found out that one of Moore’s favourite influences is Ayn Rand.
Jesus Iron-pumping Christ on Steroids, it’s Ayn Rand again. She never goes away. She haunts us like a murdered spirit, intent upon securing her sweet, sweet revenge from the Other Side. Get this, from an article posted on Alternet:
Moore is best known for being an economic analyst who is terrible at his job. Jonathan Chait called him a “famous idiot.” Economist Greg Makiw, one of the most venerated conservative economists, said he “does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job.” Catherine Rampell humiliated him in a debate about deflation.
But one point in Moore’s unimpressive history is a piece he wrote in early January of 2009, in the depths of the financial crisis that began in 2008.
In this perilous time, with the United States facing financial disaster and the world economy staring over the edge of a cliff, Moore advised policymakers to turn to a book at the center of his worldview: Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”
Oh, no. Lord, Lord, why have you forsaken us? Why do you suffer the tortures this demon inflicts upon us?
John Oliver’s show on HBO once asked, in one of its interstitial And Now… segments, How is Ayn Rand Still a Thing? How, oh how, indeed. Here, this is actually a pretty good primer on the awful creature, if you’re not already familiar:
You just know a so-called philosopher is going to be peddling vile, antisocial pig effluent when you can count among her besotted devotees the likes of Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, and arch-libertarian Rand Paul (I’ll eat my own dirty socks if it turns out that the irrepressible Senator Paul, (R), Kentucky, wasn’t named after the woman, perhaps dooming him from birth – good one, Dad).
Her appeal to these miserable conservative anti-social wrecking balls is obvious: she hated most aspects of society itself. She hated the idea that in return for gleaning the manifold benefits of living within a collective whole, it was necessary to give up at least some personal sovereignty. While she wasn’t against all government – ironically for Rand Paul, she despised libertarians and derided their philosophy as nothing but tarted-up anarchism – she preferred her government small, very small, and mainly in the business of keeping one safe from criminals and protecting private property. She extolled the virtue of individual capitalist strivers above all else, and thought of the world in terms that were absurdly stark: people were either heroic achievers pursuing their own well-being their own way, thieves who would rob the noble achievers of everything they’d built (such thieves often, if not usually, operating under the aegis of government), or flat-out frigging parasites (I’m reminded of the hierarchical breakdown of school-kid society as explained in A Christmas Story: you were either a bully, a toady, or one of the nameless rabble of victims). She dubbed her own governing philosophy “Objectivism”, a central tenet of which is that the highest objective possible is to live for one’s own benefit, and that altruism is essentially evil. In her constant proselytizing for the noble capitalist, she became famous for saying shit like this:
Uh-huh. So I guess if Dow Chemical has a little oopsie and under-estimates how many cancerous lumps Agent Orange will cause per capita, that only affects them. And that wasn’t my life savings that went up in a puff of smoke during the near fatal economic calamity in 2008, it was only the guys at Goldman Sachs who got burned when all those buccaneers on Wall Street decided to get drunk on mortgage-backed derivatives so complex that nobody could understand them. Nobody but the relevant business executives ever burned to a crisp in a Pinto, either, or came out of the womb a deformed Thalidomide casualty, and that recent little flaw with the latest model 737 didn’t just cause two plane crashes and 300 odd non-businessman deaths.
Without Ayn Rand, Margaret Thatcher never says “There is no such thing as society”. Without the twin literary thought-pathogens The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Ronald Reagan never flogs his famous laugh line that “the nine most frightening words ever said are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help'”. Her malign influence lies behind every aspect of the multiple neo-conservative tsunamis that washed over Western capitalist society over the past 40 years.
Time and again, one discovers that some smug, gloating, intolerable Republican on a mission to harm the weak and the poor is, what else, a Randophile. Paul Ryan, the deceptively deficit-exploding supposed policy wonk whose primary goal in life was to gut the New Deal, now surely to be regarded by history as the worst Speaker of the House ever to brain himself with his own gavel, made Ayn Rand required reading for his staffers. No fooling. He made them read it. So much for personal liberty, eh Paul? (Sometimes, ze rabble must be violently forced to grasp their own freedom, mein herren!).
Self-actualization by productive work, free from the predators in government and the leeches who compose the great unwashed hordes of failures! That is the only true purpose! The only morality!
No matter who gets hurt, and screw everybody else anyway.
You know who was a great big fan of Ayn Rand? Alan Greenspan. Alan Greenspan, who, during his two-decade tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, managed to get the entire American policy apparatus, Republicans and Democrats alike, to drink the Kool Aid and accept that most regulation of free markets was bad, since rational actors in those markets, pursuing their own best outcomes, would never do something that would blow up their own system. That would be silly, wouldn’t it? If they left the whole economy a charred Hellscape, how would they keep making money? They’d never! Out went all the guardrails put in place after the crash of 1929, most crucially Glass-Steagall, the 1933 legislation that made investment banks separate themselves from commercial banks. The boys on Wall Street grabbed the ball, started wagering everybody else’s money like stumbling drunks at the craps tables in Caesar’s Palace, took absurd gambles of the sort that pay off big until they suddenly bankrupt you, gambles which they probably didn’t even understand, and KA-BOOM, we got the 2008 global meltdown, and who but the evil government has to step in with 700 billion dollars to save the day. Advance to the 1:28 mark:
“The flaw in the model I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.” Oh. Well gosh-golly, sir, isn’t that just a fancy way of saying “What can I tell you, my whole life I was disastrously, fundamentally wrong about everything”?
OOPSIE. A good object lesson in what happens when you appoint the wrong people to the Fed, whether smart-ass idealogues like Greenspan here, or dummies like Stephen Moore. Which, to be fair, proves Ms. Rand was half right: when bureaucrats make mistakes, those can indeed hurt us, especially when they’re the sort of great big mistakes that come from believing in her ideas.
Can no-one expunge forever, from everywhere, this woman’s essentially psychopathic philosophy?