When I woke up today, I opened (a dozen of mails including) a mail from Gene who informed me that Larry Summers became a victim of the political correctness again. He withdrew himself from Fed consideration by sending a letter to Barack Obama that said:
I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.He clearly wanted the job. He was a right man for the job. But if you have watched the responses in the media and the Internet, you must realize that the attacks against Summers – mostly from the extreme Left – were overwhelming. It's a pure speculation when we guess whether Larry's reluctant conclusion came from his own head or whether he was encouraged by a "boss" (yes, it does seem to me that Obama's reply on Sunday was prepared too quickly) but it seems almost certain to me that a confirmation process would have been full of hysteria and could easily turn out to be unsuccessful, indeed.
One could think that that the attacks are irrelevant because most of them come from unimportant groups of subpar individuals such as the feminists – who have still been unable to accept the indisputable fact that the lower average and especially lower variance of their mathematical aptitude makes it far less likely for a woman to become a top person in STEM fields than it is for a man. But this ain't really the case. Even such people matter and various individuals who have a much stronger – and more legitimate – influence on the selection process are led to join the feminists, the radical pro-regulation warriors, and similar lunatics. Certain Democrat Party lawmakers belong to the hysterical progressive movement, others don't have their opinion so they copy it from similar movements.
It's hard to say whether those who can't forgive Larry his deregulation policies were more important for Larry's final decision than the feminists. I would actually bet that the stories and stereotypes spread by the feminists were more important in this case, too.
In seemingly unrelated news, a 12-year-old Florida girl, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, committed suicide a few days ago (jump from a tower in an abandoned concrete plant) after two years of verbal terror against her by more than a dozen of haters of her age that took place on ask.fm, Kik, and Voxer – smaller, photographs-dominated social networks where teenagers tend to drift because Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are already full of their parents and other older people.
Larry will of course do fine, once little scars to his ego mostly heal. The U.S. economy is likely to survive his surrender, too (at least for a few more years or decades). The girl didn't withdraw just from a Fed consideration; she withdrew from life. I said that these two stories are "seemingly unrelated" but of course that I don't think that they're completely unrelated. Both of them are examples of the nearly unlimited verbal terror that mobs of inferior cowards often tend to direct against individuals who are better humans.
The Florida girl (pictured with her mother, I guess) was cute, skillful, smart, and young. She was joining a chorus (a singer) and was a cheerleader, too. The primary reason behind the hatred was her decision to end a relationship with a boy a year ago (her having moved to another high school plus the deletion of her FB account didn't help). She had an unquestionable right to do it. Many other people – and girls – are doing these things all the time. A relationship has to have two agreeing sides. Moreover, she was young for any "real dating".
But some people of her age decided to change her life into horror whatever it costs. The idea is that certain harmful acts are viewed as "OK", especially when dozens of other people are doing the same thing. So she was getting tons of messages of the type "die, kill yourself". It's annoying if one gets one such a message. But I can't really imagine what it's like if you're getting similar messages from dozens of people who moreover seem to represent a majority of the "culture" where you're actually supposed to live.
It's not "OK" to encourage someone to commit suicide. And if many other people are doing the same thing, it isn't an excuse. I am confident that it makes the intimidation worse, not better. Unfortunately, the larger number of culprits often makes it harder for cowardly judges and juries to produce the "guilty" verdict. Many people get away with similar acts exactly because they're members of mobs. This is too bad. The laws should be such that members of similar mobs are also prosecuted – just like Al Qaeda is being hunted. I would personally feel some satisfaction if these young bullies were found, located, caught, and each of them got several years in prison. Of course that the local sheriff will try to sue the bastards but I have some doubts about the result.
Do feminists respect women? Do they make profit? A fun 2010 video via Jan U.
The case of Larry isn't lethal but it's qualitatively analogous. Most of his critics don't even try to hide that they have been parts of the intimidation for reasons that have nothing to do with Larry's qualities as an economist and manager – which are the relevant things for the Fed nomination process assuming some meritocracy – but they are all about their ideology and, which is perhaps even worse, their own hurt personal pride.
You may be annoyed when you learn that unlike others, Larry just won't play the silly game that you are his peer if you are clearly not his peer. But this subjective feeling of yours doesn't justify your writing of hostile rants that have no meritocratic basis. On the contrary, when you produce appraisals of an economist whose flavor is fully dictated by your emotions that you just can't control, it only helps to emphasize what a pathetic creature you are. Relatively to Summers. Relatively to an average decent person, too.
Today, the markets – that have assumed that Summers could have become a more hawkish Fed chief than other candidates – decided to sink the U.S. dollar while the stocks rallied. It's probably a rational reaction. I think that by his words, Summers has been a dove for many years (I am referring to his remarks in recent years that the long-term yields are so low that America may afford to increase the borrowing etc.). But he's still a man who has the balls to do what he believes is right. If he decided that the interest rates have to rise, he would just make them rise, regardless of the whining by many players who offer mostly irrational, emotional, and/or their own personal interests-inspired screams that the interest rates should stay near zero.
These testicles are something that is rare among the other candidates which is why even a dove like Summers must be counted as a relative hawk. These are crazy times. We're living in an era when a loosely organized community behaves as if it had the ultimate veto rights – a right to reject Summers regardless of his abilities and the opinions of others, to push Sedwick out of a tower, to keep the interest rates low, to ban the speech about the truths that are inconvenient for them, to do many other things. (Of course that I could add the organized anti-modern-physics crackpots, too.) These mobs, piles of loosely organized trolls, often represent a clear minority but they're so loud and annoying that they are de facto controlling a large portion of the life of the Western nations.
By the way, I also find it unfortunate that a complete unity of the Democratic and Republican caucuses is being assumed and/or demanded here. In my opinion, it should be more normal for such a candidate to be supported at least partially "across the aisle". Small groups of Democrats should be just ignored by the president; and some of the Republicans shouldn't be afraid of supporting someone who arguably has stronger conservative credentials than most of them...