Sunday, March 8, 2009

Next Exit, Bernanke

Oh, how deliciously apropos are these news for a Sunday morning post.. I mean, really, you can't make this stuff up, folks..

It turns out that yesterday the good people of Dillon, S.C. invited their hometown hero Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to speak at a ceremony naming a highway exit in his honor. Henceforth Exit 195 of Interstate 95 is to be officially known as the Ben Bernanke Exit. How uniquely American can one get? I mean, can anyone imagine the French dedicating anything - say the TGV railroad station in Lyon, where he was born - to Monsieur Jean-Claude Trichet, current president of the ECB? Sacre bleu!

Oh, never mind..

I expect that professional honors of any kind are rather thin on the ground for Mr. Chairman these days, so accepting local transportation-related alternatives may be the only way to satisfy the good professor's needs for ego boosters. Indeed, it takes gumption to "get angry" at the likes of AIG.

Still, it would be perfectly understandable if he had just traveled south for the day, enjoyed a bit of deep-fried chicken, okra and grits with pan gravy, plus the usual small-town shootin' the breeze and backslapping with old-time friends. Charming, even.

But, nooo..

Because Mr. Chairman instead chose this rather declasse event to make a major policy speech. "At the Federal Reserve", he proclaimed, "we will continue to forcefully deploy all the tools at our disposal as long as necessary to support the restoration of financial stability and the resumption of healthy economic growth."

Lock and load, Ben - or is that "start the rotors spinning, cap'n"?

On second thought, "The Bernanke Exit" may be exactly apropos for marking the end of our Permagrowth Era - prophetic, even. What better confluence of rapidly bygone symbolisms than a highway exit for gas-guzzlers named after the chief of a fiat currency?

Yep, you really can't make this up...


  1. The French have the good sense to name their gorgeous Parisian streets and squares after great artists and scientists - not after government aparatchiks who couldn't find the Ben Bernanke exit with a flashlight on a sunny day.

    Maybe there's a lesson there for the US - a nation that adulates politicians, salesmen and plumbers while scientists are reduced to the status of nerd.

  2. Thomas Pindelski has hit the nail on the head. We elevate to idol status, the vapid, the avaricious, the sleazy, and anyone who meets our vacuous physical appearance criteria. We often place these individuals in positions of power - so naturally we get "press releases" in lieu of statements of truth - and decisions based on how to expedite midnight raids on the public's funds.

    My same comments pertain to decisions having to do with physical public welfare, where the scientific community (and my father was part of that community) go maligned and backpedaled, while the miscreants make decisions based on their ridiculous ideological reasoning.

  3. Hel,

    BB is a co-author of my undergrad Economics text!

    Should I be worried?

    Brian P

  4. @Thomas Pindelski:

    not just artists and scientists though.
    tons of politicians and generals as well -- of all sides and times. Military units, even (,+75012+Paris,+Paris,+Ile-de-France&sll=49.002555,2.344386&sspn=0.615317,1.268921&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FYY96QId6lAkAA&split=0&z=16&iwloc=addr).

    And oh, eh, even apparatchiks,+Paris&sll=48.84007,2.38001&sspn=0.009646,0.019827&g=Place+du+Bataillon+du+Pacifique,+75012+Paris,+Paris,+Ile-de-France&ie=UTF8&z=16&iwloc=addr (though in that specific case, a helluvan apparatchik)

    The real reason there's moderation in street naming in downtown Paris nowadays is that there's barely any remaining anonymous street separator left...

    (The place is quite off-centre, but I'd absolutely love to have a "rue René Goscinny" street address just for the kick of it)

  5. Thank you for this post, Hell.
    I really dug it... And I am impressed that you know (and care) that Trichet was born in Lyon. (I certainly didn't know it.) There are two train stations in Lyon, Perrache and La Part Dieu, the second is named for ? I would have to Google to find out, but it is the name of the big shopping mall next to the train station. (Much bigger than any American shopping mall you will ever see. The French have an unfailing capacity to seize on a bad American idea and multiply it by 20, at least.) Yucky.
    And I will add my two cents worth.
    French culture is rapidly becoming as vapid as American culture has been for a long time now. (I say this with GREAT GREAT regret, and wake up to some days where I say to myself, "almost time to move on, now).
    Street naming CAN be of empty headed politicians.
    But, often enough, the French wait until they're dead to enshrine them. (That has its positive points too.)
    As for the plight of the poor scientists in the U.S. these days in the face of ideological radicalism, I'm not TOO sympathetic, considering that scientific materialism (an ideological position, my friends) has contributed significantly to bringing us where we are now.
    If and when those brilliant scientists are ready to defend the liberal arts (philosophy, poetry, etc.) alongside me, I will join hands with them in defending what is ultimately, our shared culture.
    It takes all kinds to make up a living, vital culture.