The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has found easy pickings in this week’s news with an able assist from one Alan Greenspan. Mr. Greenspan was the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board for 18 years and big proponent of deregulation in an industry where billions of dollars change hands every day. We repeat his theory for emphasis: In an industry where billions and billions of dollars change hands every day, this man believed that human beings could be trusted not to get too greedy. Boy Scout’s honor would do the trick, he figured, and taking a cue from the Chairman of The Federal Reserve, the government didn’t keep an eye on the national cookie jar.
The result? No more cookies and some very fat people smeared with powdered sugar while the rest of us wonder where our cookies went. So this week before Congress Alan Greenspan admitted he was dead wrong about the self-policing market. Not that it helps the rest of the world as one nation after another sees their economy going down the tubes. Not that Mr. Greenspan didn’t have enough obvious evidence of human nature all around him everywhere all his very long life. At no time in his 82 years did he ever enter a bank without a vault, shop at a store where the cash till was out in the open for anybody to help themselves or drive in a car that was not equipped with locks. Why he thought that human nature would change with the increase of zeroes behind numbers is a mystery.
DOPOTO belatedly welcomes Mr. Greenspan into the ranks of those who can see what is so obvious it ought to be unspoken. The Department does wonder, however, what took the man so long. Presumably he had locks on the doors to his house and didn’t carry his entire personal fortune in his pockets or in a briefcase everywhere he went, preferring instead to keep the bulk of his money safely locked up in a bank like any other sane person with the slightest familiarity with the ways of the world. One wonders if Greenspan has ever watched or participated in sports, one of the more honorable human endeavors, and if so, did he notice that there are rules to every sport? Not guidelines, not suggestions, not blindly trusting the participants to play fair, but rules! One doesn’t bring a blackjack to a boxing match without getting disqualified.
The man also went to a lot great schools too in order to obtain the education required to become Federal Reserve Chairman. Those places have rules too, and failure to follow them and cheating are grounds for expulsion. He worked his entire life, and in every workplace there were rules in place and somebody to enforce them. So when he got the most powerful and influential economic job on the planet, knowing his decisions would affect the economy not only of the United States but the whole world, why did he abandon the obvious? His “my bad” in front of Congress doesn’t cut it, and his admission of being shocked over what any 6 year-old knows is ridiculous.
A lot of people in this world will steal in spite of all the many laws and moral teachings against theft. In an atmosphere where there are no rules against stealing, well, the sky’s he limit, especially in the multi-trillion dollar financial industries. And why anyone listened for 18 years to Mr. Greenspan while aging chubby frat boys systematically stole a nation’s wealth is another huge mystery. There is nothing more obvious than a strong lock on a cash register, nothing so clear as the need for armed guards driving armored cars. That’s where the money is and people will steal it! The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious felt this point is so obvious it bears no mention, but like Mr. Greenspan, we were wrong. And so we call for making rules for these corporate princes to live by and enforcing them vigorously. As embarrassingly obvious as that point is, it seems someone had to make it. Even at the risk of appearing simple, we are willing to risk that perception and point out that the sky is indeed as blue as it ever was. That’s what DOPOTO is for.