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May 10, 2010
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported on Ben Bernanke's commencement address to the newest class of graduates from the University of South Carolina.
On this special day, when graduates officially transform from kids just trying to amass credits to earn their respective degrees to grown-ups just trying to earn a living, they were treated to his pessimistic anti-prosperity theme, "money can't buy you happiness."
Bernanke even cites a study conducted on lottery winners to substantiate his claim, and well of course, he can speak from his own experience; he's a millionaire.
As the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke earns just over $200,000 a year. In addition to his earned income, he receives passive income between $150,000 and $1.1 million from royalties for two textbooks he authored and portfolio income between $25,000 and $80,000 from two annuities.
While I'm sure the polite graduates were thankful to have such a successful and powerful individual address them on their special day, and applauded him accordingly, they should have flipped him the collective bird, or in this case, gamecock.
As Federal Reserve Chairman, Bernanke has helped navigate the country's sinking ship as it continues to steer itself into one financial iceberg after another. This class of graduates, among many others, will suffer for it. They will have to prepare themselves to live in a country where high unemployment becomes normal, especially among the 18-24 demographic, and when their government decides to service its out of control debt, they will see more of their hard-earned money yanked from their wallets following the implementation of higher taxes.
Ultimately, many of these graduates will face the reality that they will not be able to provide their children with the same quality of life that their parents have been fortunate enough to provide them.
Bernanke knows this, and his message is preparing them for it. He's conditioning them to not worry about high earnings because after all they'd be unhappy anyway. Hey, you can trust Ben, even though he's rubbing his success in your faces, he's still trustworthy because he's speaking from experience.
But riddle me this: if Ben's so unhappy, why doesn't he give up his wealth?
Why doesn't he quit his job at the Federal Reserve, donate his royalty checks to charity, and take his annuities and go live in the Dominican Republic or Panama for the rest of his days?
I'm sure Mr. Bernanke is just fine with the life he has been able to lead, one that has been filled with opportunities that have enabled him to be prosperous, which is why his address is nothing short of disgusting.
My suggestion, don't invite this man to your commencement until he is ready to ensure that the future generations of this country can decide for themselves if their own prosperity makes them happy or not, instead of being forced to just take his word for it.
He's selling you contentment with a life of poverty; you don't have to buy it.
J.C. Arenas is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your comments at jcarenas.com