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Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in At TMV, Banks, Budget, Economy, Finance, Politics | 8 comments

Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant, For Fed Chairman

When Selig Cartwright’s name was first put forward as a replacement for Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, questions arose in some quarters about his qualifications for the post.

Merely by virtue of working for Goldman Sachs, of course, one is usually assumed qualified to help run our nation’s economy. This has been the way of things in Washington for a very long time. Indeed, these days it’s hard to find any economic policy-making body there not staffed and generally headed as well by an alumni of Goldman or Citi, or someone who will go to work at one of these two outfits after a stint of Wall Street-friendly public service.

Still, Selig Cartwright’s own suggested nomination to head the Fed raised eyebrows because he cleans washrooms. Jokes were made about “mopping up markets,” “flushing the banksters,” and a candidate who really knows “The Street’s inner workings.”

All such cavils, however, miss the real point of a Selig Cartwright chairmanship of the Fed. In fact, miss the larger point of what’s wrong with economic policy in this country generally, and why someone like Selig might actually bring needed insights to the policy-making.

The median income in this country is about $51,000 a year. Half of Americans make more, half make less. And not a single person in an economic policy-making position, NOT ONE, is in the lower half, which is to say not a single person making economic policies feels personally the effects of these policies on the bottom half.

It gets worse.

Only 19 percent of Americans have incomes of more than $100,000 a year. Eighty-one percent have lesser incomes. And not a single person in an economic policy-making position in Washington, NOT ONE, is in that lower 81 percent income range, which is to say not one of them feels personally the effects of their policy-making on four-fifths of their fellow Americans.

It gets even worse.

To be in the top 10 percent of income in this country, you need an income of $140,000 or more. Ninety percent of Americans have lesser incomes. And not a single person in an economic policy-making position in Washington, NOT ONE, is in that lower 90 percent category – NOT ONE in Congress, in the Administration, or among the lobbyists in Washington, experience on a first-hand basis what 90 percent of Americans experience on a daily basis by virtue of the policies they churn out.

Which brings us back to Selig Cartwright as a possible Fed Chairman. No, he can’t sling around those fancy economic terms like the big boys and girls inside the Beltway and on The Street β€” the way doctors who prescribed bleeding and purging as cure-alls for illnesses once slung around Greek and Latin phrases to justify their nostrums.

But in debates about helping the middle class β€” you know, those how-do-we-help-the-middle-class debates supposedly held in Washington by our highly compensated economic policy setters β€” Selig, or someone in the same economic situation as Selig, would be there to say: “Hey, that’s only helping rich people. Let’s try something different this time.”

Economic policy in this country is currently made by hirelings of the rich, or by highly compensated economic technocrats who view reality through statistical lenses divorced from real middle class life. Selig Cartwright is not one of these best and brightest. Rather, like you and me, he’s a victim of these best and brightest.

As Fed Chairman Selig could give the victim’s point of view: This view: Hey, that’s only helping rich people. Let’s try something different this time.”

And wouldn’t that be nice.

Michael Silverstein is a former senior editor with Bloomberg News. His latest book is The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall Street.

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Copyright 2013 The Moderate Voice
  • dduck

    Great one, MS.

  • justcowboyway

    Agree with Dduck. What’s a body to do if you can not live on $172,000 a year?

  • sheknows

    Everyone knows that our lawmakers are the “ruling” class. We elected them. We knew they all were making pretty good wages before election, and that is partly why we elected them. It shows to us they are “successful” people. The kind of people we want to be our team captain.
    This all comes with a downside of course, in that they are completely out of touch with those below them on the financial ladder, yet we neither resent their wealth or call for repeal of their laws to further their wealth.
    It has become an expected part of living in America. When we’ve truly decided we want to change the current system, we will cry out and revolt in as many ways as possible. Marches, failure to re-elect, phone calls and emails to representatives…etc. Until then…….

  • yoopermoose

    I don’t think voters elect our representatives based on their income. Those with lots of money run for elected office because they can afford to run for elected office. It’s hard to run for congress when you have to work 8 to 10 hours per day to pay your bills and then still travel around to drum up votes and raise money. Especially if you are not already politically connected. I would rather vote for someone who is from the middle to lower economic class, but that is not who runs.

    As far as the washroom attendant at the Fed. Great idea. I’m all for it. Where do I sign the petition?

  • sheknows

    Hi YM. Not to put too fine a point on my comment, I said partly. These upper income people work 8 hrs or more a day too.

    We have had several attempts here in Nebraska to elect hard-working folk, but they never make it. Possibly because they lack the money to keep campaigning, and partly because many would prefer to have a successful attorney, heck even a Banker/financial advisor that ran once, than a hardware store owner represent us in Washington. you are of course correct, it is not all about money, but I believe it plays a part in whom we decide to choose.

  • yoopermoose

    sheknows, Maybe it’s just me then. If the hardware store owner’s views reflected mine, that is who I would vote for. If the rich banker was an a**hole, I wouldn’t vote for him. But that’s just me. πŸ™‚

  • slamfu

    I’m not sure what to take from that. By definition all the jobs listed of “policy makes” earn over $140k, which puts them into the top 10% of earners, and would disqualify them from the common persons viewpoint. I make $40k/year, win a congressional election, now I’m in the top 10% or whatever.

    There is no reason someone who makes 1% money can’t understand the plight of the bottom 3 quintiles. What is lacking isn’t experience, its compassion, empathy, and some basic math skills, and that’s just on the personal level. On the economic policy level you just need some slightly more complicated math skills, and the right historical data on what works and what doesn’t. This type of thinking seems to be lacking in most of the people advocating the conservative fiscal viewpoint.

    The same people on the right will tell you that teachers are paid too lavishly(well but by no means extravagant in many cases) and those on welfare are living high on the hog taking taxpayers money, and then turn right around and complain about how hard it is to live on $250k/year and that those who have seen the most economic growth in the last 5 years need tax relief. Its this completely nutty disconnect, the conservative “doublethink” that poor people have too much and rich people don’t have enough while the economy stagnates because we are still essentially under the exact same fiscal policies that Bush had, except for this year when we FINALLY upped taxes on top income and cap gains.

  • dduck

    I sorta hope Selig changes his mind (this is his idea, isn’t it, or is some fat cat pulling his strings?), he shouldn’t have to associate with all those low lifes.
    BTW: not a few low-income folks get into or are “encouraged” into politics to make money, some even do it honestly.

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