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His Name Is Henry Paulson, His Name is Henry Paulson…

November 14, 2010

So one of my goals in college is that I don’t want to miss anything. I will never have an opportunity for the rest of my life to experience all that is offered daily here, so when I saw that Former Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Henry Paulson was coming to speak I made sure I would be in attendance.

I am a liberal so there are very few members of the Bush cabinet I would expect to agree with, however, Paulson blew me away. It goes back to my belief that we should always elect smart people, particularly economists, because if someone is smart, even if they don’t share my perspective, they will realize when it is necessary to come together to solve problems and when to compromise. I ended up agreeing with almost everything Paulson said and I came away with much more respect for him, and by proxy, former President Bush. Here were the highlights:

  • Paulson explained that as they implemented TARP, they knew it would never be popular because you can never prove a counterfactual, but they were able to convince enough members of Congress to make a tough, unpopular decision 6 weeks before an election.
  • We need to totally restructure tax code to encourage saving. (and not blindly encourage home ownership at the expense of renting)
  • Everyone in America’s youth should commit a certain amount of time to service. Military, civil, community, etc. (I especially believe in this one, I just wrote a paper in favor of this for a history class of mine).
  • We need to tax carbon emissions.
  • We need to fight for tariff-free trade with Asia, it will help us all. We cannot fall into the trap of vilifying China and thereby reducing free trade.
  • Congress is losing the ability to handle crises because of partisanship.
  • The Fed must be allowed to preserve its autonomy, ditto Treasury.

It was a great talk and it made me want to buy his book

This talk reminded me that there are truly intelligent, nonpartisan people out there, and we need to get them into Government.

One Comment leave one →
  1. aptronym238 permalink
    September 25, 2011 8:39 pm

    Continuing my backwards stroll through the archives, I saw the title of this post and finally got the reference. (I saw Fight Club a few weeks ago.) Point one doesn’t really need much comment; you’re either with it or against it. I largely agree with point two. Point three sounds somewhat dangerous as forced servitude, but I appreciate the sentiment. Point four is ridiculous for reasons I won’t go into here. Point five is one of the trickier of the bunch: ideally I love the idea of no tariffs of any kind, but China has a lot wrong with it that I don’t necessarily want us to support as a nation, some of which (currency undervaluation) directly affects trade. Point six is correct in most cases, but not always bad: rush decisions are often poor ones, and Congressional gridlock can help prevent them. Still, I can’t help but get the feeling that we’re slipping over the edge as a country, so maybe we need a Congress that can function as a unit more often. Point seven merits a reminder: independent, unaccountable control of some aspect of American life leads to abuse and incompetence. We see this with the EPA and the FDA. We have seen this with the Fed and Treasury. I understand the sentiment of allowing the helmsman to carry on without regard to political pressures, but right now there’s no concrete way to check his course. Finally, regarding your last sentence: the truly intelligent, nonpartisan people out there who I would like to see in government would want no part of it.

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