The Buck Stops Here
Ellicott City, Md.
William Greider’s “Dismantling the Temple” [August 3/10] may be the most important summary analysis yet of the current economic crisis and its roots in the mysterious role of the Federal Reserve. If it inspires your readers (especially legislators) to educate themselves about how the economy really functions and who the real players are in the making of economic policy, it will have succeeded in bringing about the hoped-for rebellion. Money, after all, is only a means of exchange, and its value derives from the consent and trust of those who use it.
BRENDA C. CARR
Three Oaks, Mich.
William Greider writes, “Bernanke essentially used the Fed’s money-creation power in a way that resembles the ‘greenbacks’ Abraham Lincoln printed to fight the Civil War.” But Greider fails to mention that Lincoln’s greenbacks circulated interest-free on the “full faith and credit” of the United States, as Ellen Hodgson Brown describes in her excellent book The Web of Debt. On the other hand, Brown says, every dollar bill today is a Federal Reserve Note, lent to the government to be paid back with interest.
In 1972, Brown writes, the Treasury Department calculated “the amount of interest that would have been paid if the $400 million in greenbacks had been borrowed from the banks instead…. Lincoln saved the government a total of $4 billion in interest, just by avoiding this $400 million loan.”
The Federal Reserve needs to disappear, and very quickly.
As one of those men Robert McNamara sent off to fight in Vietnam after he had already concluded that the United States could not win there, I was entirely confident that I could and would never forgive the man. But on reading Jonathan Schell’s truly thoughtful “Remembering Robert McNamara” [August 3/10], I find my implacable anger a little less implacable.
Schell asks how many of our fearless leaders have ever acknowledged that they’d made a mistake, or said, “I was terribly wrong.” He comes up with one–McNamara. I reluctantly agree. McNamara, no matter how badly I want to deny it, helped show us the direction in which we should be heading.
And yet. McNamara apparently continued covering his own ass long after he understood his folly, while hundreds of thousands continued to die. This still sounds pretty much like the behavior of everyone else involved in promoting that ill-begotten war.
I am of a ’60s antiwar movement that can never forgive Robert McNamara for his central role in the Vietnam War, though of course he had the decency to acknowledge many years later that the war was wrong. Not so Henry Kissinger, who took up where McNamara left off.