The cost of speaking one’s mind

baddog

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has withdrawn his candidacy for the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve. The widely accepted view is that this is a Good Thing.

The reasons cited for approving of Summers’ withdrawal fall into two camps. First, he was in part the architect of what’s called ‘the Great Moderation’, in which Bill Clinton threw out the rules that applied to banks and the world went almost straight to hell. Clinton was following Summers’ advice on this matter: two fools, then.

Secondly, and overwhelmingly mainly, Summers criticised women. Now there are some things you can do in this world, and some things you can’t. Criticising women falls into the latter category. Summers reportedly said that women are less good at science and maths than men are. That’s almost certainly not true — everyone knows that women are the smarter sex and that maths is a notoriously difficult subject — but its veracity makes no never mind. He said it, so now he’s not fit for public office.

One may no longer harbour views of any kind that do not mesh with the received wisdom. A boy was arrested for calling a police horse ‘gay’. A man in France who shot a burglar who had beaten him within an inch of his life looks set to spend years in jail for his ‘crime’. I am no doubt about to be punished viciously for even mentioning these things.

Fine. I probably deserve it. But before they cart me off, let me point this out. Summers’ views as an economist led directly to the financial meltdown that ruined millions of lives and continues to rob savers and Oldsters of the good life they earned by denying themselves when younger. As an economist, Summers is clearly not as good at maths or science as a six-year-old girl.

It seems to me that a public official into whose hands the national coffers are about to be placed ought not to have a track record of massive incompetence.

We Oldsters sometimes adhere to views that are no longer fashionable. I, for example, believe that one ought to be able to call a horse anything you like. It’s a horse; it doesn’t care what you call it, so long as you feed it. I think that after a fellow beats you up and robs you, shooting him would be cause for receiving a medal. Very old-fashioned views, these, but just views. I’m allowed, for a while yet, to think things, and even to say them on the world’s leading blog for the Older person, providing I break no laws in so doing.

I also think that being a proven incompetent and breaking the world ought to disqualify one from running for public office. Of course, there’d only be about three of us left to manage things, but that’s not the point. If we do not demand aptitude from our leaders, what will the only possible outcome be?

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