Muller: With Janet Yellen, we have hope

Muller: With Janet Yellen, we have hope

Yoni Muller, Opinion Editor

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, President Barack Obama proved to us that our government is functional and its leaders are knowledgeable, experienced and the right people for the job.

If that sounds like the world’s biggest joke to you, it’s only partly so. Anyone who has accidentally seen some news while flipping through channels (or read some of our excellent reporting and ruminating) is aware that our government is shut down, which to many, is the textbook opposite of functional. This is because our elected officials are waging war over a three-year-old piece of legislation and sabotaging our well-being for things such as principle or respect. The lack of maturity and form of any reasonable guidance displayed on Capitol Hill looks better suited for CBS’s television classic “Kid Nation” than C-SPAN.

Fortunately, not all public offices are as riddled with incompetence, misplaced priorities and assholery as Congressional ones. Obama reminded us of this when he announced Janet Yellen as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. She will be replacing Chairman Ben Bernanke, who will complete his eight-year tenure in January. 

Janet Yellen did not get this nomination with a stellar stump speech. Janet Yellen did not get this nomination by alienating a large part of the population in her quest to prove that she was the most extreme banker, and everyone else was too moderate and weak. Janet Yellen did not get this nomination by promising to stand up for arbitrary goals at the risk of destroying the government or setting out to destroy the government as an actual goal. And, though it’s certainly a noteworthy achievement that she will be the first woman to hold this office, Janet Yellen did not get this nomination by virtue of her second X chromosome.

Janet Yellen got this nomination for one reason and one reason only: She is extraordinarily qualified, and she’s the best person for the job. Yellen has proven herself to be remarkably intelligent through years of government service, holding such offices as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and vice chair of the Federal Reserve. In these offices, she helped usher in some of the greatest financial growth and prosperity in American history, she foresaw the housing crisis a year in advance, and she helped establish Fed policy to navigate through the worst economic crisis of the last 80 years.

Although many of our senators and representatives were elected with little or no experience regarding the issues they debate every day, Yellen has been an expert in her field for longer than some Congress members have been alive. In addition to being knowledgeable about her discipline, she acts on this knowledge successfully. Unless you somehow believe the Fed has done anything short of stopping a full-blown depression from taking place (in which case I’m honored you read my columns, Ron Paul), you owe no small amount of gratitude to Yellen for her economic insights. When she gets sworn in at the start of next year, she will be perfectly primed to continue the policies that Bernanke put in place and develop a smooth road map for future actions.

In many ways, Janet Yellen represents exactly what we want to see from our politicians. Sure, you may not agree with her ideology (she’s a “dove,” meaning she generally finds unemployment more important than inflation, which may result in more inflationary policy). Still, you recognize that she understands the implications of her positions back and forth and she meticulously reasons through every decision she makes.

Short of a miracle, when you read this, the government will still be shut down. Old Faithful will erupt to no audience, our food imports will be as monitored as Silk Road and garbage will pile in our nation’s capital until it grows into life-sized metaphors for our leaders. And yet, we can all breathe a little easier (not in D.C. though … hold your breath still), knowing that at least one government institution is functioning exactly as it should.

Yoni Muller is a Weinberg junior. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].