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New! Video: The Podsquad meets Jim Cramer
Audio: Professor William Gruver's introduction
Audio: Jim Cramer in his own words
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- An impassioned and sometimes fiery Jim Cramer, the investing guru and host of CNBC's "Mad Money," said Tuesday night that government deregulation was nothing short of a "covert attempt" to eliminate the federal government's responsibilities to its citizens.
"Do not be fooled by the sirens of laissez faire," he told a packed audience at Bucknell University's Weis Center for the Performing Arts in the continuing national speakers series, "The Bucknell Forum: The Citizen & Politics in America."
"Ever since the (President) Reagan era, our nation has been regressing and repealing years and years worth of safety net and equal economic justice in the name of discrediting and dismantling the federal government's missions to help solve our nation's collective domestic woes," he said. "We call it deregulation … a covert attempt to eliminate the federal government's domestic responsibilities."
Scheduled air dates
Noon, Sunday, Feb. 3
8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5
3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 10
Check local listings to verify times.
Talk to air on WVIA-TV
The talk, recorded by WVIA-TV, the Northeast and Central Pennsylvania public television broadcaster, is scheduled to air several times in February, beginning this Sunday, Feb. 3, at noon. The Bucknell Forum is the underwriter for this presentation. Check local listings for details.
Bucknell will also soon make Cramer's talk available to all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents via myBucknell. Please check the Bucknell Forum Web site for details.
Before embarking on his talk, titled "The Capitalist Citizen and Democracy," Cramer warned his audience to not be misled by the persona that hosts his popular CNBC program "Mad Money."
"This is not a 'Mad Money' show, nor is this the man you see at 6 and 11 on TV. This is who I really am. And I'm honored to be given a chance to say who I really am and to give you a talk that is heartfelt and is not about entertainment education or making friends and making money," said Cramer.
He said that deregulation is the equivalent of saying that "private industry will do it better, that volunteers will do it better, that business if left unfettered will produce so many rich people that they will do it better than the government can."
Even the best of the nation's private enterprises, Cramer said, citing companies like Wells Fargo, Pepsi, United Technologies, Google, and Costco, can't meet those demands.
"You, the next generation of corporate and government leaders, should know and understand the limits of what even the best of capitalism and the marketplace can do to promote the general welfare. As future citizen capitalists you must not embrace the unrequited love of the government of the United States for private enterprise," he said. "Be wise enough to see that government regulation is a necessary evil."
He blamed both Republicans and Democrats for a "hands-off democracy" and "rough-and-tough capitalism," but was especially critical of government institutions like the Federal Reserve under then-Chairman Alan Greenspan for failing to "curb the Internet boom before it became the dotcom bomb recession of 2001."
He said Greenspan could have curtailed that boom by using the rules that Congress gave the Fed to curb excessive margin lending that exacerbated the Internet stock boom.
"Then the effects of the dotcom hangover were so severe that he had to lower rates substantially to reflate to get the economy going again. The result? The reckless over-built housing bust that could rival the Great Depression in taking down economies worldwide," he said, adding that as many as 7 million homebuyers could be left destitute.
Cramer took issue with the proposed $150 billion economic-stimulus plan, calling it a "nonsensical rebate, the functional equivalent of a fancy iPod and an expensive pair of Nikes, and layer on still more debt that we can't pay for. … What a waste, what a travesty."
The bemused best-selling author noted the "utter inconsistency" of laissez faire.
"We want laissez faire when it comes to business -- except when it comes to the insistence of a politically popular but economically and environmentally hazardous renewable fuel, ethanol," he said.
A fuel that doesn't work
As a result, he said we have unequivocal government support for a fuel that doesn't work and that raises the price of food for everyone including those who can least afford it, which, in turn, forces the Federal Reserve to keep the money supply tight to rein in resulting inflation.
"So we are laissez faire when it suits us … and we are anti-laissez faire when we can help farm states crucify us on a cross of ethanol," he said.
He railed against a tax structure that supports "tax rates for billionaires at a lower percentage level than those who make $30,000 a year. This is utterly shameless."
In the end, he said, laissez faire policies are but a "fraud meant to get around the true role of a government in promoting the general welfare and enriching a select few" and called on enlightened caring capitalists to reassess the abilities of an unregulated marketplace and for the country to readdress the role of regulators "who would leave us at the hands predator capitalists."
It is necessary, Cramer said, to get the limitations of capitalism back on the agenda for the next generation in order to fulfill the mission statement made by the Founding Fathers "to promote the general welfare for all."
"The Bucknell Forum: The Citizen & Politics in America" is a national speakers series exploring major issues in the 2008 presidential election, notably those at the forefront of the national discourse. The series features nationally renowned leaders, scholars, and commentators exploring these issues from multi-disciplinary perspectives and offers opportunities for campus and community conversations.
On Feb. 6, a panel of distinguished religion experts representing a broad spectrum of thought will examine "Religion and Politics in America."
On March 17, best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich will speak on "Class, Citizenship, and the Presidency." Pulitzer-prize winning syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts will speak on March 24.
NBC newsman Tim Russert was The Bucknell Forum's inaugural speaker in September, followed in October by a panel of national political correspondents from among the country's most influential print, broadcast, and online news sources discussed the role that media play in shaping the presidential election and the issues affecting the race. In November, the renowned political theorist Benjamin Barber spoke about the challenges facing democracy in America.
Contact: Office of Communications
Posted Jan. 30, 2008