Thursday, July 2, 2009

TKC Grads Hit the Presses

Two recent graduates from The King's College in New York City have shown up in prominent print this week.

Anthony Randazzo (Class of 2008) published "The Myth of Financial Deregulation: Government action caused the economic crisis, not the free market" in Reason Online: Free Minds and Free Markets (June 19).

For the past nine months, Wall Street critics have painted a damning picture of the housing bubble as the product of deregulation and reduced governmental oversight. To read the Obama administration's new financial sector regulation overhaul proposal, the government didn't have anything to do with the current crisis. According to this view, our economy wouldn't be facing a recession with almost 10 percent unemployment if the government had been more involved with the market. This picture is about as historically accurate as the famous portrait Washington Crossing the Delaware. ...

The core problem of the regulatory proposal is its view of the causes of the crisis. Everything is built on a belief that the market failed and that deregulation created a system of excessive risk and irresponsibility. Ironically, it was government action that created incentives for financial firms to be less risk adverse, not a lack of regulation. As Washington prepares to debate regulatory overhaul this summer, it is more important than ever to wrestle the myth of deregulation to the ground.

Given all the talk of deregulation, you would expect to find dozens of deregulating laws put in place over the past few years. Surprisingly, there have only been three major deregulatory actions in the past 30 years. Ultimately, the data points to bad regulation as complicit in the creation of the financial crisis, not deregulation.

Those three major deregulatory actions were the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 (co-sponsored by then-Rep. Charles Schumer, as Randazzo nicely observes), and of course the 1999 Glass-Steagall Act.

Anthony Randazzo is a policy analyst for Reason Foundation. Read his Reason archive here.

David Lapp (Class of 2009) gives us "For Better or for Worse: When Marriage Vows Get Creative" on the Houses of Worship page of the Wall Street Journal (June 19). (I have previously cited Mr. Lapp in my obituary for Richard John Neuhaus for his words introducing Rev. Neuhaus at his King's College Interregnum address.)

In this custom-made vows market there is plenty of opportunity for mockery, although it is also easy to dismiss the writing of one's own wedding vows -- or farming them out to professionals -- as a harmless exercise, just another way for a couple to personalize their love for each other....

But let's imagine for a moment that, instead of reciting the oath that his 43 predecessors have taken, President Barack Obama had insisted at his inauguration on personalizing it, perhaps replacing "I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States" with the more flexible "I will try as hard as possible to do the job of president of the United States." That sounds a little more natural and honest, he might have argued: How does he know if he'll always be able to live up to his word? Besides, he might have stated, "The traditional oath is what every other president has said. I want mine to be original."

We, the people, would have been outraged -- and rightly so. The very specific words our Constitution requires the president to recite demonstrate the gravity of the obligations he assumes. They can't be reduced to the whims of one person.

Lapp draws attention to the place of marriage within a larger community, and, in a Christian context, within a covenant community. Also, he points out, he vows people write for themselves often reflect their own immaturity. The vows certainly express who they are as a couple, but they do not express who they should aspire to be, drawing on the wisdom of those who have preceded them in marriage, some of whom are present at the ceremony. "The more casual attitudes toward the vows are probably a symptom of our more casual attitude toward marriage."

I"m glad he was able to give Dietrich Bonhoeffer some spotlight, who told one couple, "it is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love." Words to the wise.

Lapp presents this practice of writing your own vows as something new. But I seem to recall that it was featured on an episode of All In The Family in the early 1970s when it became faddish. Certainly the practice of shopping for vows on the Internet is new. That reduces wedding vows to the level of a greeting card sentiment. Do people even know what a "vow" is?

So there you have it: two Christian philosophico opinion shapers for the twenty-first century.

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