Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bernanke brought to us by Rupe

So today Chairman Ben Bernanke chooses to address the USian public via a piece under his name in the Wall Street Journal, entitled The Fed's Exit Strategy.

The article addresses matters of money supply and public policy:
My colleagues and I believe that accommodative policies will likely be warranted for an extended period. At some point, however, as economic recovery takes hold, we will need to tighten monetary policy to prevent the emergence of an inflation problem down the road. The Federal Open Market Committee, which is responsible for setting U.S. monetary policy, has devoted considerable time to issues relating to an exit strategy. We are confident we have the necessary tools to withdraw policy accommodation, when that becomes appropriate, in a smooth and timely manner.
These are issues so basic to the economy in which we all swim or sink that the placement of the article raises at least two questions.

1. Why does one of the most highly placed officials of the US choose to write for a private, subscription-based publication, instead of making his views known through some more public channel? His piece could have run in various Government - as in Open Government - websites, blogs, the Fed's own site. It could have, indeed, run on all of them. As well as in the WSJ, and the NYT, and WaPO, etc.

Why does Bernanke - here playing the role of example, not whipping boy - not think of his role and place in USian life as warranting the widest possible public distribution of his thinking? Why not share via multiple networked distribution, rather than lend visibility solely to Rupert Murdoch's private enterprise?

In brief, why is the nation's top banking official failing to understand that his official words, like his official deeds, should be shared with all?

2. A slightly different aspect of this regards the Murdochian worldview. The WSJ sells its articles, and in most instances offers a couple of paragraphs - you want more, you pay. But in this instance (and in others), the entire piece is available to anyone.

Why? Could it be because the Journal acknowledges that public communications about matters of public interest deserve, warrant, or require public access?

If we assume something along those lines, then the question of the propriety of newspapers charging for news - which tends to involve "matters of public interest" - rears its uncapitalist head. Because if all information and communications relating to public interest are commodified products owned by private info-factories, why should there be any exceptions? Why should Mr. Obama's words, or Mr. Bernanke's not simply be carried by the highest bidding private publisher?

Or, if there must be exceptions, where is the line between essential, necessary public communications that must be shared with all, and inessential, government and public communications that need not be so distributed? Barack Obama yes, Hillary Clinton no? Barack yes, Michelle no? Bernanke yes, Paulson no?

Who decides where matters of national concern leave off and those merely of private interest begin?

Private Ben

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