Flimsy Sanity: An opinion piece written right before Gramm called US a bunch of whiners

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An opinion piece written right before Gramm called US a bunch of whiners

McCain & 'Foreclosure Phil'

AS SOMEONE who's politically conservative, I'd like to see John McCain outsmart Barack Obama and take the White House in November.
The only problem is I'm wondering just how smart John McCain is turning out to be.

In particular, I find it hard to believe McCain has chosen ex-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm to be his economics adviser. For those who don't remember Gramm, he's associated with two major issues facing America's struggling economy: the failing real-estate market and rising gas prices.

The collapse of the real-estate bubble, also known as the "sub-prime mortgage meltdown," has clear ties to Gramm. In December 2000, at the urging of lobbyists from Enron, Gramm pushed through Congress the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.

Known as the "Enron loophole," this law protected financial institutions from overregulation by the government. In essence, it opened the door for something called "credit default swaps," and allowed many Americans with bad credit and no money to get mortgages they had no right receiving. Of course, when these same Americans defaulted on their mortgages, the result was billions of dollars in foreclosures.

The Commodity Futures Modernization Act is also associated with rising gas prices. Critics argue that this legislation is responsible for driving up the price of oil because it exempts energy speculators, who make trades electronically, from the regulation of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In other words, big banks are free to manipulate the price of oil by buying huge blocks of energy futures and driving up demand.

Not to mention that the "Enron loophole" was a major factor in the Enron scandal, which wrecked the California electricity market and cost consumers billions. Amazingly, McCain still stands by Gramm, his former Senate colleague. Some believe McCain will appoint Gramm secretary of the Treasury should McCain be elected.

I find this hard to comprehend. McCain admitted to the Wall Street Journal editorial board earlier this year that he "doesn't really understand economics," but is his knowledge so limited he can't see what kind of liability Gramm might be to his campaign?

When it comes to presidential politics, Americans seem more concerned with emotional issues than economic ones. YouTube, which co-sponsored a presidential debate with CNN this year, is a case in point.

Run the names Jeremiah Wright and Phil Gramm through their search, and you'll see what I mean. As I write, 2,620 YouTube videos call Wright, Barrack Obama's former pastor, a "racist" and an "anti-American" - in comparison to only 58 that accuse Gramm of being an economic "manipulator" and financial "scam artist." These results are curious. You'd think Americans would be more outraged over Gramm's controversial economic policies than Wright's racially charged sermons.

Think about it. How has Jeremiah Wright had a direct effect on the average American? How has he made our lives harder, more expensive? Sure, his use of racial slurs is shocking to those not familiar with "black liberation theology," but on a daily basis, Wright's sermons don't make much difference.

But ex-Sen. Gramm - "Foreclosure Phil" - is a whole different story. We feel the aftershock of his reckless policies regularly.

Regardless of whether you're liberal or conservative, socialist or capitalist, one thing's very clear: Gramm's policies are associated with the Enron scandal, the subprime mortgage meltdown and the fiasco on the energy futures market.

McCain should consider cutting his ties with Gramm if he wants to have a shot at the White House in November. And, as Americans, we should pay as much attention to economic matters as we do emotional ones. *

Christopher Paslay is an English teacher at Swenson Arts and Technology High School in Northeast Philadelphia.


  • At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Omnipotent Poobah said…

    I'm with him here.

    The Wright video gets lots of play because it's easy to understand black vs white and the nature of one's own prejudices. People don't search for Phil Gramm because people who can't even figure out their bank balance can't understand a financial loophole, even if it is one that may have cost them their house.

    The stupid triumph over the thoughtful again!


Post a Comment

<< Home