Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Media Matters tells a story about Larry Summers

In We Need a New System, Media Matters tells a story in which Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary, runs into a young protestor holding a sign reading "We need a new system."

It turned out Larry Summers had seen the girl too and was eagerly telling his guests about an interaction he had with her:

And so I asked the girl: 'What is this new system that you want? Tell me about it!' And the girl had nothing. Nothing! She had no fucking clue what this magical new system was supposed to be. No one is saying that there aren't problems with the world economy the way it is today. But these kids out there -- they don't know what they want!"

"Mr. Secretary," said Zack. "You've got 50 economics PhDs in this room who pretty much run the world economy. And you're asking that girl for a better system? Aren't the solutions your job? You admit billions are living in hell, but it's up to that girl to fix it?"

Summers chuckled and the conversation moved on."

Among Larry Summers' accomplishments: successful arguments in favor of reducing corporate and capital gains taxes, opposition to unemployment insurance and welfare payments, opposition to the Kyoto protocol, deregulation of banking, deregulation of derivatives contracts, advocating against salary caps for executives of companies that received bailout money, and losing Harvard a million bucks.

And oh, yeah, when he was Chief Economist at the World Bank (an organization designed to help poor countries), he wrote this memo:
Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? .... I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. .... I've always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City.
He said it was a joke, but still: Christ, what an asshole!

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