By Matthew Rothschild on September 22, 2010

Good riddance, Larry Summers.

Obama’s top economic adviser is going back to Harvard by the end of the year, and Harvard can have him.

Summers has a resume of disaster.

As chief economist at the World Bank, he proposed dumping the West’s toxic waste on the Third World.

As Clinton’s Treasury undersecretary, he forced privatization on the Russian people, who experienced enormous poverty as a result. (See Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.”)

And when he was Clinton’s Treasury secretary, he helped deregulate Wall Street, which led to the current crisis.

When he was President of Harvard, his sexism did him in.

Under Obama, Summers and Timothy Geithner were largely responsible for understimulating the economy.

And Summers and Timothy Geithner were largely responsible for not extracting meaningful concessions from the banks when they were on their deathbeds. “The first big economic debate of the new administration was over whether the government should use the leverage of TARP to force new behavior on lenders (credit was frozen) and on companies awarding outlandish bonuses,” writes Jonathan Alter in his book on Obama’s first year, The Promise. “In a meeting less than two weeks after Obama took office, [Presidential adviser David] Axelrod argued yes, but Summers and Geithner opposed attaching big strings to bailouts. They thought it wrong to kick banks when they were down, not to mention violating their contracts.”

Wrong to kick banks that had destroyed the whole economy?

Alter quotes Summers as saying: “Just as war had unintended victims, bailouts had unintended wealthy beneficiaries.” Unintended my ass!

Summers helped land Obama in the fix he’s in today: unemployment’s very high, resentment at the banks is even higher, and few people can feel the economic benefits that Obama and Summers say they’ve brought about.

So adios, Larry.

Now Obama has a chance to put a progressive economist in.

How about Paul Krugman of the New York Times?

Or Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia?

Both have Nobel Prizes in economics.

Obama sure could use their wisdom, their tenacity, and their humanity now.

And so could we.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article Republicans Cry “Class Warfare” When They’re Winning the War.”

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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