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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Politics: A Government That Works

Longtime friend, reader, and political ally SGTG, everyone's favourite terrorist nun, recently sent us a petition well worth our time. With the usual panache and fury, SGTG introduces the petition thusly:
I just signed this petition asking that Obama appoint a Treasury Secretary who can clean up Wall Street, not one who helped deregulate it. Right now, the leading candidate for the post is Clinton administration official Larry Summers, who had a hand in reducing regulations on banks in 1999.

We can't fix this mess by handing control to the people who made it.

Read the petition and sign up here.

We don't like Lawrence Summers one little bit. We realize that President Obama has the right to pick the people he thinks best suited to the job of assisting him in these troubled times. Drunky McStaggers has left the entire nation buried under a giant pile of, quite frankly, shit.

We're not, for example, wild about Rahm Emanuel, but, as blogging buddy Chuck of Chuck for ... points out, he knows how to work with people, even people he doesn't like. This is good. And (thanks again, Chuck) we don't get any of our agenda implemented if we're going to be ideological purists and refuse to accept the new President's choices.

That said, Larry Summers is the genius who gave us the following quotables:
"the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to the fact that ... under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted".
From the archives of The Guardian, see entire article for an excellent discussion of human health and welfare and the WTO.

"The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostate cancer than in a country where under five mortality is 200 per thousand."
To translate for those too shocked to comprehend, it's OK to ship carcinogenic toxins to underdeveloped countries because, unlike those of us who live in developed countries, those poor yobs won't live long enough to get cancer. From this article, see entire article for a trenchant analysis of the World Bank's role in the destruction of our environment.

In addition, Summers has been behind the efforts at deregulation of the financial industry that have resulted in the current economic mess. That said, with the possible exception of Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini, most economists probably support deregulation and consider labour and the environment to be commodities.

Quoting Summers on the issue of women in academia would be pointless, as the speech that gave rise to the current sentiment among female academicians, that Summers believes women are innately inferior to men in terms of intellectual capacity, is nowhere articulated exactly as here phrased, but requires the reader to absorb the actual speech, available here, and draw their conclusions. Which conclusions, at least for my part, tend to be that even if he did not literally claim such innate genetic inferiority, that implication is strongly suggested in his speech while President of Harvard.

Summers' apologists, at least on the question of his opinion of women's intellectual capabilities, have claimed that his intent was to provoke discussion of the issue of female underrepresentation at the highest levels of academia. That may well be, but if such a highly educated intellectual is incapable of phrasing the issue in a manner that doesn't provoke a firestorm of criticism, anger, misinterpretation, and downright hostility, it forces us to draw the conclusion that perhaps Summers' people skills are such that he should not work with people.

He is, undoubtedly, a brilliant intellectual, though one sadly lacking in any level of human empathy. Thus, we join with various women's groups in seeking to inform his erroneous conclusions and, also, in praying that, should he be appointed to President Obama's cabinet, he will serve in an advisory position with few administrative or public-speaking opportunities.

Stumble It!


At 8:10 PM, Blogger SteelyBob said...

I think that Obama should be advised not to appoint Summers to Obama's cabinet. Summers'quoted insensitive remarks, and his support of deregulation of the financial industry, are enough to justify keeping him out of Obama's cabinet.

The petition to be sent to Obama's advisors is flawed, in that it quotes a columnist's report of some of the audience reactions to a long, rambling speech by Summers. As mentioned by TPC, Summers did not actually directly say that women and men have innate differences in aptitude for science and math.

I just finished reading the transcript of Summers' excruciatingly long, vague, indirect, round-about, unfocused speech. I fell asleep three times, and I'm not making this up. Indeed, I agree that he implies differences in aptitude between males and females; trouble is, he's too mealy-mouthed to actually say that. For the most part, the petition cites verifiable sources and direct quotes; the petition should stick to those.

If one of the charges in the petition isn't verifiable, it dilutes the impact of the petition.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Chuck Butcher said...

I don't care for Larry Summers and the media's attention is, IMHO, overblown. A transition team is that, a transition team and making too much of it is a mistake.

One small quarrel, ignoring the commodity aspect of labor invites real problems and ignorance of factors that directly impact labor. The fact that the commodity aspect has been used to crush labor is not a failure of the concept, it is in fact a validation of it since it provided the tools to accomplish that goal. A tool is not bad because it's been misused, it is the misuse that is the problem. This comes from a solid and staunch supporter of the working person. I've made trouble for myself with liberal friends over this, and I'll continue to because it counts.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger SteelyBob said...

Well...that's easy for you to say.

At 7:42 AM, Blogger sgtg said...

here's a link to a post on larry summers on jack and jill politics. in case you're interested.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger hipparchia said...

that larry summers?!


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