Clarion Call For Leadership

Richard W. Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in a speech on Dec. 16:

Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. on the topic of the responsibilities of leaders in a democratic society:

“Cowardice asks the question—is it safe? Expediency asks the question—is it politic? Vanity asks the question—is it popular? But conscience asks the question—is it right? … There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

That time is now. Our nation’s economy is at risk. The Federal Reserve has done everything it can to reduce unemployment without forsaking our sacred commitment to maintaining price stability, or crossing over the monetary river Styx into full-blown debt monetization. I personally don’t care which party is in the White House or controls Congress. All I know is that the “honorable” members of Congress and presidents past, Republicans and Democrats alike, have conspired over time, however unwittingly, to drive fiscal policy into the ditch. They purchased their elections and reelections with popular programs so poorly funded that they now threaten the economic well-being of our children and our children’s children. Instead of passing the torch on to the successor generation of Americans, they have simply passed them the bill. This is the opposite of honorable.

Like all of you here, I am sickened by our politicians’ tendency to kick the can down the road, even when it is starkly clear that doing so jeopardizes America’s well-being. Small wonder that some recent polls show only 9 percent of the American people view Congress favorably. (One senator posited that the 9 percent consisted of blood relatives and congressional staff!)

But this is the holiday season, and especially now, I am given to viewing the world through optimistic eyes. The Christmas spirit may be overwhelming my judgment, but I believe that the American people—from the mainstream to the Tea Party to the unemployed and disaffected who have taken to the streets—are in the process of forcing politicians to get their act together. There is a loud, distinct, clarion call for leadership—for the people we entrust to right the rules that determine our economic future, cast away cowardice, expediency and vanity, and get on with leading us out of our fiscal wilderness.

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