Fire the Fed

Hercules, Calif.

“In this crisis, the Federal Reserve is an untrustworthy agent for the public interest. Its…bias is to defend the club members and cover up its own errors” [“The Gentlemen’s Bailout,” April 7]. The Nation hits the nail on the head. Now take the next step. Call for a public central bank. A bank that will not charge us interest on our own money. A bank that will honor its fiduciary duty to the public. A bank that will truly be independent of the interests it regulates.

The privately owned Federal Reserve has throughout its ninety-five-year history promoted the interests of its members over the good of the country. In the last decades we saw bubble after bubble, panic after panic, and yet the mantra was always “free markets,” “less regulation,” “more financial innovation.” And for what? The profits of its member banks.

This crisis is far from over, and much bigger catastrophes loom. In the meantime the public is subsidizing the very interests that caused the disaster: tens of trillions of dollars of credit default swaps and hundreds of trillions in derivatives in a market that is not regulated and has no financial standards for counterparties and no legal framework for determinations. Our entire GDP is only about $14 trillion. The loss of even a small percentage of these markets will bankrupt the country. The failure of the Federal Reserve to regulate these behemoth markets is reason enough to give it the boot. We need a public central bank.

MICHAEL McKINLAY



The New Deal Was a Good Deal

Olympia, Wash.

Your special issue on the New Deal [April 7] brought back many memories. My parents voted for Hoover in 1932. My father, a poor but proud farmer, survivor of the Dust Bowl and Depression, refused to work for the WPA. (Most of our neighbors did. They drove late-model Model A’s; we drove a flivver and nearly starved.) Republicans called the savior of the poor, the WPA, We Piddle Around. A typical Republican joke was: “5,000 years ago, Moses said, ‘Load up your camels and asses, we’re going to the Promised Land.’ Roosevelt says, ‘Sit on your asses, light up a Camel–this is the Promised Land!'” But we always listened to FDR’s fireside chats on our battery-powered radio. When I first voted, for Truman in 1948, my father, who had become wiser, admitted he’d been wrong to vote against Democrats all those years.

WESLEY M. WILSON


New Haven, Conn.

I could not agree more that we need a new New Deal. But I would not necessarily argue that the Democratic candidates should promise one before the election. You will recall that during his campaign against Hoover, FDR promised to balance the federal budget!

ROB FORBES


Sun City Center, Fla.

I am old enough to remember how FDR brought amazing things forth out of chaos and despair. I was thinking along those lines when Barack Obama spoke so passionately about his community work and how to put young energy into constructive projects. I feel Obama offers us leadership for the future. I hope it happens, as I want to have a few final years of living in a more hopeful and healthy country. Near my home is a park with a beautiful wooden suspension bridge over a river, built by the CCC. It reminds me of what can be accomplished with true leadership.

PEARL VOLKOV


Geneva, Switzerland

I’m not old enough to remember FDR, but I was raised by people who did. All were grateful. I had an uncle whose first job after high school in Manhattan was with the CCC down South. I learned to love books in a WPA building, the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza–a beauty (except for the lobby, desecrated in the Nixonian early ’70s). The FDR Administration made a better life possible for almost every American I know and knew.

If an Obama Administration can accomplish what the New Deal did, there will be much for Americans to look forward to.

R.H. WEBER


Santa Monica, Calif.

I appreciated the reminders that many of the things I enjoy today I owe to the New Deal, whether hiking trails built by the CCC, power from projects like Hoover Dam (which, by the way, employed my father) or my own prosperity, which rests partly on the fact that because of the Railroad Retirement and Social Security acts, I did not have to sacrifice to support my parents in their post-retirement years.

LOUISE WEST


Killingworth, Conn.

The last time I read The Nation I was in college, forty-odd years ago. A professor said most college students were liberal and would become more conservative as they aged. For myself it’s been the opposite. Your recent issue on the New Deal was excellent. I’m signing up. From National Review to The Nation in a single lifetime!

JAMES F. ELLIMAN



Whoooooom Said the Owl?

Jersey City, N.J.

So the grammarians are unhappy with your March 24 headline “Who Would Jesus Vote For?” [“Letters,” April 21]. Their displeasure is unwarranted. The use of “who” as the first word in a question has been natural for 500 years, despite the efforts of grammarians to make English conform to the rules of Latin. The teaching of Latinate grammar serves to train a populace in obedience to the orders, however unreasonable, of those in authority.

JOHN ROUSE


Campbell, Calif.

“For Whom Would Jesus Vote?” Huh? This is so incredibly stilted! You had it exactly right. The marvel of English is its ability to evolve. Street language? Perhaps. But for clarity and simplicity, I’ll take “who” every time.

Richard Calderhead
Publisher, Itsez (itsez.org)



Charleston, Ill.

“Who” has been substituted for “whom” as far back as the fourteenth century. There are numerous occurrences in Shakespeare: for example, when Polonius asks, “What is the matter, my lord?” Hamlet replies, “Between who?” Other instances can be cited from the writings of such authors as Dickens, Henry Adams, Hemingway, Faulkner, Garrison Keillor, even conservative language maven William Safire, who wrote (in 1987), “Let tomorrow’s people decide who they want to be their President.” In fact, Safire pointed out that “at the beginning of a sentence, whom comes across as an affectation” (1996).

Other interrogative and relative pronouns (which, what, that) have only one form, which functions for both the subjective and objective cases, and no one is confused or offended. There is no reason to have two case forms for who.

“Who Would Jesus Vote For” is a perfectly clear, concise, grammatical question. All speakers of English readily understand it. Using “whom” instead adds nothing, except a note of supercilious pedantry.

ROBERT FUNK


Port Hueneme, Calif.

Concerning complaints on “Who Would Jesus Vote For?”: such arrant pedantry you should not up with put.

RICHARD D. ERLICH