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Wisdom And Maturity Looks Good In An Obituary

December 9, 2019

One of those towering names from the past came back in our thoughts today with news reports about the death of Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  He died at the age of 92.

I have not thought about Volcker in a long time, other than encountering his name in history books or a random column in a newspaper about economics.  When I was in high school he served as Fed Chair, and it was his deep voice and less than perfectly-knotted ties and his mussed look that caught my attention.  But he was far more than that, of course.  He was very intelligent and credited in large part to curbing inflation that had undermined our national economy.

What struck me today about Volcker’s death was the placement of his story in the same block of news which reported Texas Senator Ted Cruz, in an interview this weekend, thinks Ukraine was responsible for the interference in the 2016 presidential election.  That 17 U.S. intel agencies have findings which confirm it was Russia who was meddling did not matter to Cruz.  The erudite Volcker and the absurd Cruz are the bookends of what we have come to experience in our nation when it comes to those working for the public.

I know it often looks like the leaders of the past were somehow more shiny, capable, and educated than what we are at times forced to have as public servants today.   Perhaps the timing of the Cruz story alongside the reporting about Volcker was just plain bad-timing.  Or perhaps it is more telling than we wish to acknowledge.

Volcker was a professional and did his job without political considerations.  President Carter knew that to be a fact. Oh, boy, did he know that!  Today it seems politics is the only thing that drives too many of our public servants, as evidenced by the lack of ability for Republicans to press back on the bizarre behavior from the Trump White House.  Sadly, there seem to be more Volcker types in our rear-view mirror than in front of us.

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