Put it this way: the chief Bernanke weapon against impending disaster was the great Money Slosh: turn on all the taps full blast and hope that we could drown the monster of depression the same way the Dutch fought off the Spaniards by piercing the dikes.
I said yesterday that I tend to think that this was probably right, although I was a little irritated that Wessel did next to nothing to present it as anything other than a self-evident truth.
But there's the thing. Even accepting all this to be true, still I'm struck by the fact that there is not one word of anything even remotely like blame against anyone in this whole account (unless you count the obstreperous Sheila Baird.). Really now. I know this was a time of crisis, but didn't anyone think to spare just one moment to marvel if nothing else, against the narcissism, the bloated greed, the heart-fatally-bent-on-mischief recklesness, that threw us all into this mess?
Maybe, but you wouldn't guess it from Wessel. But even conceding that we had to fatten these lords of misrule, you'd think that someone might have cherished the irony.
There seems to be something about the regulator mindset here, although it is a bit hard to pin down. As to culprits, it is impossible to put any direct blame on Bernanke himself, who seems to be the most selfless of public servants. Nor (with perhaps slight qualification) against Tim Gerthner, the man born with the briefcase under his arm. Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary and former head of Goldman Sachs, is perhaps a tougher case although nobody that I know of has suggested that he made direct private profit on the deal.'
But how refreshing it would have been if just one of these regutors had muttered, just once and sotto voce (though within earshot of Wessel)--"I'd really like to tie these guys to an anthill and cover them with honey."
Maybe wht prompted me to this was an encounter with Michael Froomkin's dismay at the scot-free escape of all Bush's foreign policy bad-guys. Froomkin's proposed 11th-hour last-next-best remedy: shunning.
Shun Ridge. Shun Yoo. Shun Rove. Shun Gonzales. Shun all the torturers and torture enablers, and shun the perverters of law and justice. Don’t ever put anything their way. Don’t give them a visiting gig. Don’t invite them on TV. Don’t buy their books. And make it contagious. Make them professional lepers. Make the people who give them treats sorry they did it.It's a start. And in a very limited way, it may be happening. Indeed, it amuses me to learn that one of those shunning Alberto ("Speedy;" "Fredo") Gonzalez may be his old mentor and protector--boy what a class act that guy is.
But why stop there? In addition to shunning, how about shaming? I admit that these guys may be beyond all capacity for shame, but we might get some comfort nonetheless. As I recall, bankrupts in Scotland used to have to wear dunce caps so people would be able to identify them and know of their shame. Closer to home, how about a "financial predator register," like the sexual predator register, so we will know which of these guys is living in our neighborhood, among vulnerable school children? Or faces on the post office wall? Or endlessly repeating episodes of COPS, or those old-crimes eyebrow-raisers which seem to be the only thing besides Obermann and Maddow that actually run on MSNBC?
Or how about the pillory? Yes, the pillory would be nice. HE SOLD ADULTERATED SECURITIES. Smack! goes the rotten tomato. FLOOSH!--that was a cabbage. And if anyone dares to call it "cruel and unusual"--why, I suspect we might find something in the files of the Justice Department that would be just the protection we need.