Spratt is a true friend of our 5th District

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By Bobby Collins

In 2009, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve System, was chosen by Time Magazine as Man of the Year. I enjoyed reading the article about Bernanke.

It contains interesting information about Bernanke including his childhood in Bennettsville and about monetary policy and the role of the Fed.

About the same time I called a high school friend to respond to an invitation to a party that he was having for high school friends. He called it a Medicare Party in honor of those of us who survived to draw Medicare. My high school friend is a distant relative. In high school we were proud of fact that he was distantly related to Andrew Jackson and I was distantly related to J. Marion Sims. That is very southern, I guess.

In college my friend and I drifted apart. He attended Davidson and I attended Wofford. About 1972, 10 years after we finished high school, my friend visited home. My new wife and I carried my friend to the Wagon Wheel for supper. On the way back to town we stopped by the Lancaster Airport. We flew around Lancaster for a while. It was one of those serendipitous moments in life: a good friend, my wife, and a pleasant southern town on a pleasant night.

In the 10 years after high school my friend accomplished quite a bit. He earned degrees from Davidson and Princeton. He also served in Vietnam where he was seriously injured. I kidded him by saying that he had lost his Southern accent. I will never forget his reply, “Where I work I am considered stupid if I speak with a Southern accent.”

Time Magazine said that Ben Bernanke has managed to keep the current economic crisis from becoming another great depression. It said that Bernanke was the right man, in the right place, at the right time. Bernanke is a student of the Great Depression. He understands the mistakes made in the 1930s and has been determined to try to avoid repeating them.

Another South Carolinian of whom I am proud is a Davidson graduate, who has served in the U.S. Congress since 1982. John Spratt also has degrees from Oxford and Yale but still speaks with a Southern accent. He is a veteran. He currently is a member of the House Committee on Armed Services and chair of the House Committee on Budget. He has a vast knowledge of military, monetary and agricultural issues.

For the benefit of the people in the 5th Congressional District of South Carolina, I hope that the voters of the 5th District have the good judgment to allow him to continue. Spratt is a moderate and is able to deal with liberals and conservatives, which is important. I think that it is interesting to compare Mark Sanford, the poster boy for the neoconservative, neocarpet bagger politics in South Carolina, to Ben Bernanke and John Spratt. Mark Sanford represents a political ideology that has sought to close USCL and dismantle government. John Spratt and Ben Bernanke seek to make government work better for everyone.

In trying to explain the difference between classical and Keynesian economics, I tell my students that if our class were meeting in 1920 instead of 2010,I would be teaching classical, laissez faire economics. And I try to explain the progression of economic thought in the last 90 years. However, I remind them that in 1920 they would not have been in school because their families would not have had enough money to send them. Government subsidies allow them to be in school.

It is interesting to me that business people who benefit from stimulus programs, veterans who receive Veterans Administration benefits, senior citizens who receive pensions and parents whose children receive subsidized educations, find it fashionable to trash government. They seem to have a propensity to vote for politicians who would dismantle government programs from which they benefit.

Our country’s role as a world leader is being challenged in the 21st century. The country that will prevail will find a good blend between the public and private sectors. I think that the lesson of the 20th century was that we need good government to stabilize a market system that occasionally goes into a tailspin, especially when greed goes berserk. John Spratt is a seasoned veteran.

John Spratt has been a true friend to the people of the 5th Congressional District. John Spratt understands that the economic agenda of the neoconservatives can return us to the destabilizing environment of the early 20th century that can lead to truly serious market meltdown.