Last night while the Tween-let was ensconced in the world of Harry Potter, I was glued to 60 Minutes as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke with Scott Pelley. He channeled the same hope, spit, duct-tape and prayer that Obama has been spouting of late. I swear at some points during the interview I saw his lower lip tremble as he spoke tentatively of upswing and how close we were to a financial 9/11. I thought surely a single tear might roll from his eyes. Ahh yes, this was 60 Minutes, not Barbara Walters. Dear God! Why did you take Tim Russsert?
Everyday I make decisions about how to get through the day without spending any money. Just yesterday I wrote a letter to my landlord appealing to her sense of compassion, asking her to lower my rent while I try to maneuver through this. I broke it down to her; a $20 reduction means a tank of gas, $100 means groceries. This was a difficult letter to write.
I did it because I’ve promised so much to my Tween-let and tell her no so often she has began phrasing her questions with, “I know you’re going to say no but…” Not that she wants things, gadgets and stuff, she just wants the experiences we used to have on my small salary, the annual trip to the desert to see the wildflowers, a snowboarding lesson. The message for her, for all of us in this is that sometimes we have to wait. Sometimes we have to be uncomfortable. Delaying satisfaction means we don’t get to have everything exactly when we want it. That’s not earth shattering, but it is financial responsibility, a balance check on greed, on thinking that our wants and needs are the same thing. They are not. A good lesson for her and for us as a nation.
I’m glad that Obama is holding true to his promise of transparency. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
MR. PELLEY: I’ve been kicking around the country. I spoke to a woman in Ohio who took her son out of college because she got laid off. I spoke to a woman in Nevada who has an advanced stage of cancer, and she was told by her county hospital that they couldn’t treat her because a hole had been blown in the state budget. What do you say to those people?
MR. BERNANKE: Well, I got into economics because I wanted to make things better for the average person. When I see a job loss number of 650,000 like we saw last month, I know that’s not just a number, that’s 650,000 lives that have been disrupted, families that have had to move or take children out of school, houses that may be in danger of foreclosure. I know something about what people are going through.
MR. PELLEY: And that makes it all the more outrageous when he hears of financial firms handing out perks and bonuses after they’ve taken bailout money.
MR. BERNANKE: The era of this high living, this is over now. They need to be responsible and use the money constructively.
MR. PELLEY: And you would say what to those bankers right now in this interview
MR. BERNANKE: I’d say that their job right now is to find a way to make loans to credit-worthy borrowers, to get their banks back on the path of making good loans, safe loans and to have a reasonable sense of humility based on, you know, what’s happened in the last 18 months.
Something spectacular is just around the bend…