In response to my earlier piece about Alan Greenspan's retirement and the poll ABC News did that resulted in his being the most popular human in the universe, I have been asked what Alan Greenspan did besides set interest rates and how can we blame him for America's economic ills. It's an excellent question.
It is true that the activities of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank are not well known among Americans. It is in the best interest of the political and economic power brokers of America's ruling class to keep his activities and influence as murky and cloudy as possible. The general public gets its pat on the head every three months when the only really public thing he does (covered religiously and with awe by the press) is set interest rates. If this was the only thing the Fed Chairman does, it would still be a hugely signifant act. But he does so much more, and the impact has been wonderfully rewarding for certain sectors of the American economy, and really destructive to middle-class, low-income and poor Americans. By way of answering the question about Greenspan, what he does and why it's not good for us, here is a short section from the end of an excellent review by Thom Hartmann of the book, Greenspan's Fraud, written by Ravi Batra.
Read the first part of Hartmann's review, it explains even more about how we have evolved economically and to the detriment of the middle class since 1981.
...Greenspan has steadily worked for over two decades to sell out America's sovereignty and economic interests to those of the multinational corporations he so loves, and to sell out the working people of America (and their Social Security Trust Fund) to the super-rich who Greenspan has always represented.
Greenspan manipulated the stock market so his buddies could get rich, then warned them just in time to get out before it blew up. He's kept together tax cuts and pay increases for the CEO class by pumping cheap money into the economy so the Middle Class will go ever deeper into debt, setting up a housing bubble that could crash in a way that would make 1929 look like a mild bump in the economic road. And he's helped engineer and support international "free" trade policies that have disemboweled America's manufacturing and information technology sectors, with the happy result for Republicans that the once-politically-active and heavily unionized middle class is being replaced by a politically impotent mass of the working poor, too busy to worry about politics or challenge corporate news.
Most people, coming across this massive indictment of Greenspan, would probably react with skepticism. Why wasn't any of this in the paper? Why haven't I heard Democrats and liberals attacking Greenspan from the floors of Congress and in the progressive media?
As Batra points out, the truest testament to the power Alan Greenspan holds is that he's been able to do so much of this behind the scenes. He gently encourages and nudges, argues and lectures, leaks and pontificates. He suggests, rather than orders. And, of course, he holds the levers of the nation's money supply in his hands - making him a more fearsome threat to a sitting president or political party than J. Edgar Hoover ever was.
And, Batra documents, Greenspan has not been at all reluctant to use his considerable power to the benefit of those in office.
One example: During the Reagan and Bush presidencies, he was in favor of tax cuts. During Clinton's he was against them. During Bush Junior's he was again in favor of them.
Ravi Batra's book "Greenspan's Fraud" is not only required reading for all Americans because it so clearly lays out the crimes this man - and the Republican Party - have committed against the United States of America, but also because it's such a brilliant primer in macroeconomics overall. If you never were able to figure out, for example, what interest rates had to do with unemployment, or how the rich get richer in America while the poor get poorer, or why when the minimum wage is increased the economy gets better, Batra explains it all with elegance, wit, and comfortable clarity.
"Greenspan's Fraud" is one of the most important books you can read this year. Get two copies, because you're sure to have at least one friend you'll want to read this book, but your own copy will be so marked up and beloved that you'll not want to let go of it.
---> GET YOUR COPY HERE <--- * * * Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. http://www.thomhartmann.com/commondreams.shtml His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A Call To Take Back America," and "What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy."