Thursday, July 26, 2012

Audit the Fed?

Yesterday, the House of Representatives, in a largely bi-partisan vote, passed HR 459.  This bill, championed by TX Representative Ron Paul for the better part of the last decade asks the non-partisan GAO to conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.

Why is this needed?  The Federal Reserve, despite it's official sounding name and enormous power to shape the economy and the value of our currency, operates on its own.  It is not a government agency.  It is answerable to no government authority, and it's records are entirely shielded from review by any government authority.  The FOIA does not apply.  Congressional subpoenas for information can be ignored and even poor performing Fed Chairman get renominated to their posts every 4 years until they decide to retire.

Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland spoke out against the bill, saying this bill was unnecessary and would lead to political interference in the Fed's mission.  This is somehow bad.  Let's apply that logic to other areas.  Should Congress be allowed to operate in secret?  Ban cameras from the halls, hide lawmaking behind closed doors?  What would Mr. Hoyer's reaction be to this?  He would probably be fine with it if his party were in power, but as the minority party in the House right now, he would probably object.  Secrecy would allow the Republicans to greater flex their majority powers.  Shedding light on the proceedings has some diluting effect to this (not much, but some).

Should the White House be shielded from public scrutiny in its execution of duties?  Again, depends on who you ask and who is currently in power.  Republicans argued for more autonomy for Bush when he was in office and now scream for more transparency now that Obama is in office.  The Democrats did the same thing in reverse, attempting to shield the Justice Department from Congressional Subpoenas that they would have insisted the Bush Administration comply with.

The point is that the WE, the PEOPLE are served best by knowing what it is the people who rule us are doing.  We don't always make the best electoral decisions, but that is because we frequently have less knowledge than we need to make the best decisions and quite frankly, too many of us treat elections like we treat our favorite sports teams.  If you're a Yankee fan, you'll cheer for Derek Jeter until he gets traded to the Red Sox and then you'll cheer against him.  The people and the process don't matter nearly as much as the uniform that they wear.  If suddenly Republicans started calling for higher taxes and Democrats started calling for smaller government, there are too many people who wouldn't change their voting habits at all because they're D fans or R fans.  They just like the mascot better or whatever.

Back to this Bill.  It is heading for the Senate.  Harry Reid, the quirky (that's a nice way of saying he's an imbecile) Senate Majority Leader has vowed that this bill will never come up for a vote in the Senate.  It doesn't matter than almost half of the Democrats in the House voted to pass this bill.  Harry says the Bill will die and therefore, it will probably die.  Why?  Because there are some things, Harry says, that we should not be allowed to know about the inner workings of our economy.  We can't politicize the decisions of our economic policy-makers.

What arrogance?  Just because some people are content to keep their heads down and ignore the problems in our political and economic system does not mean that we should not be given the opportunity to see who is driving the bus and more importantly, if there is a cliff ahead of us.  There is nothing about government that government has a right to keep secret from the People it is supposed to be representative of.  You may argue that intelligence agencies need secrets and that military needs secrets and you may be right that THEY need those things, but the needs of the People outweigh the needs of Government.  The Fed may NEED to be insulated from Politics, but if they are steering us toward a cliff, we would never know it.  No person, agency, or body with the power that they possess should be able to operate under a cloud of secrecy.  No just a cloud of secrecy in their decisions, but an absolute shield from having those decisions and the present ramifications reviewed.

Do you realize that no one in our government knows how much money has been lent to banks in this country and around the world by the Federal Reserve?  Not only does our government not know, they are not allowed to know.  More importantly, WE are not allowed to know.  How can we have a democracy when we cannot know what it is we are deciding about? If you want to keep your head in the sand, fine, but let me make that decision as you have.  Give me the option of knowing what is going on around me.

If you are so moved, please contact your Senators and ask them to support your right to know what is going on.  Knowledge is good.  Ignorance is bad.  Senator Reid, if you wish to stay ignorant that is fine by me.  Apparently you have been able to enact legislation without ever having read the bills you pass, but for the sake of those of us who want to know what is going on, get the hell out of the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment