Column: Let the sunshine in: Audit the Fed

By Gus Bode

Money doesn’t grow on trees. Well, our dollar is made out of trees, but the value of that dollar isn’t.’

Economics affect every American, but confuse even your most intelligent and informed citizen. Monetary policy is even more complex and confusing, and is about the least sexy issue you can find.

And so it’s of little shock that most Americans have no clue how our monetary system works. It’s boring, and it would take a long time to explain, so the media has little interest in covering it. So we find ourselves today in the depths of a serious economic crisis, with your average person clueless as to what makes his or her dollar a dollar.’


So it’s completely normal to feel angry and confused when obscure financial products that most of us never owned (or knew we owned), destroyed our economy to the tune of trillions of dollars.’

A trillion dollars is a difficult amount of money to even comprehend. Most people can’t even fathom what it would be like to have a million dollars. Yet we the taxpayers have bailed out the banks with trillions of dollars, more money than we can imagine fixing what we don’t understand.’

This is a recipe for disaster. We allowed the greediest and most reckless swine tank our economy, and we have now charged these same swine with fixing the mess they created.’

For years, the financial industry has lobbied Congress to deregulate their industry.’ No lobby has been so successful at outright buying our Congress, the people’s representatives.’ And this is as bipartisan as it gets, especially in the Senate, which our Senator Dick Durbin noted (in a slip of honesty) ‘is owned by the banks.’

So it should be no surprise that there is a sick, corrupt orgy between the big banks and those who are supposed to be regulating them. Just how symbiotic and corrupt the relationship is would probably depress the hell out of you.

The clearest example is the relationship between Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve. Goldman Sachs is the big bank; if it were a baseball team it would be the Yankees, the Cubs and the Red Sox combined. Being that it is worth more than most countries in the world, you’d figure it would be wise to make sure that someone was regulating it, and that someone was objective. And if that weren’t the case, maybe you’d figure that Change Guy we believed in would change it. And you would be wrong.

The Federal Reserve System, known as ‘The Fed,’ is the central banking system responsible for U.S. Monetary Policy. It is a quasi-autonomous board made up of 12 regional banks that does everything from setting interest rates to influencing credit conditions to regulating banking institutions and making sure our economy doesn’t implode.’ If all this seems confusing, it is. The thing to understand is the Fed is the essentially the commissioner of the League (to use the baseball analogy).


If the commissioner of this league used to play for the biggest team, there would be a conflict of interest. And if the commissioner changed or bent the rules to help out his old team, we would cry foul.’

The current head of the Fed, Ben Bernake, is (gasp) a Goldman alumnus.’ So are a disproportionate number of those holding high positions in the Fed and both the current and previous presidential administrations (bipartisan corruption at its best).’ And Goldman Sachs posted its biggest profits ever last quarter, even as it received bailout money from you and me. We need to cry foul, and the more we find out about the sweetheart deals, backroom swindling and outright theft of ours and our children’s tax dollars, the more we find out that this thing smells worse than the dumpsters outside Pinch.

There is something that we, the people, can do. We can support HR 1207, proposed legislation to allow Congress, the people’s branch, to Audit the Fed.’ All it would do is shed light on what Goldman Sachs (which Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi described as ‘a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity’) and others got from us and what they did with it.’ While our economic crisis leaves millions jobless and states are shutting down vital social services, we deserve to know what happened with our money.’

Ron Paul introduced the legislation, and so far it has more than 270 co-signers, people from both parties, all across the spectrum.’ The Senate, the one ‘owned by the banks,’ only has 13 sponsors, and neither of our senators has signed on. Call, write and tell our Senators, and our Congressman, support HR 1207, and let the sunshine in.’ And be sure to tell our president that this lack of transparency and accountability is not change and not something you believe in.

O’Connor is a junior studying political science and philosophy.