Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yeah, What HE Said: Peter Peterson Edition

Pete Peterson is Former Commerce Secretary, CFR Chairman, Founder of Blackstone Group, Former CEO of Lehmann Brothers, Former Chairman of the NY Fed, 150th Richest American, Donor of over $1billion, Founder of the PGP Foundation for fiscal sustainability, Husband of Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney. Last week, he was on Charlie Rose to remind us we can't just borrow our way out of this mess, personally OR Federally.

My father was a Greek immigrant, comes over at age 17, has a few pennies in his pocket, doesn't know a word of English, 3rd grade education, goes to the middle of Nebraska and takes a job nobody wants, namely washing dishes in the caboose of a railroad. He takes that job in that steaming kitchen. He sleeps there, he eats there, and saves almost everything he had. And then he opens up the inevitable Greek restaurant. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for 25 years and when he finally shortened the hours, he had no key to the front door 'cause it had never closed. And he was kinda my model of the workaholic.
And then he addressed our current situation:
Paul Volcker thinks the chances are 75% that there will be a dollar crisis in 5 years ... and what does that mean ... the dollar falls suddenly, interest rates go way up, inflation, recession, housing problems all over again and so forth. And that's the vulnerability and this country's just got to learn to save more, which means the government not dissaving and more personal savings. We just can't continue.
A few months prior, in an EXTREMELY highly recommended op-ed for Newsweek, he explained (emphasis mine):

The moment is overdue for us to become moral and worthy ancestors ... For years, I have been saying that the American government, and America itself, has to change its spending and borrowing policies: the tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded entitlements and promises, the dangerous dependence on foreign capital, our pitiful level of savings, the metastasizing health-care costs, our energy gluttony. These structural deficits are unsustainable ... Underlying these challenges is our broken political system. Our representatives, unlike our Founding Fathers, see politics as a career. As a result, they are focused not on the next generation, but on the next election. When the long-term problems are large and real, they anesthetize us, mislead us, divert us—anything to keep us from giving up something or having to pay for it ... Our problem is not a lack of options. It is a lack of will to do something about them.

Here's one last quote from him, said back in 2004:
I remain a Republican, but the Republicans have become a far more theological, faith-directed party, not troubling with evidence.

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