Last week Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the AIG bailout. During his testimony members of the committee, both Republican and Democrat, vociferously complained about his role in the bailout and called for him to step down as Treasury Secretary.
The bailout of AIG came in 2008, when Henry Paulson was Treasury Secretary. Geithner was president of the New York Fed and played, at most, a supporting role.
While the congress critters were screaming at Geithner and calling for his resignation for something he did in his previous position and not for what he’s done as Treasury Secretary, I began to wonder.
First I began to wonder if they thought Secretary Geithner had not learned anything from previous mistakes. I’m reminded of a couple of quotes from T. J. Watson, an early head of IBM:
“Would you like me to give you a formula for… success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all… you can be discouraged by failure / or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the far side.”
“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”
Second, to the congress critters, if you’re so smart about finance and economics, why aren’t you Treasury Secretary?
Third, Geithner calmly but forcefully refuted all their flawed assertions. Didn’t they see how foolish that made them look?
Finally, it dawned on me that these guys were more intent on looking for someone to blame, thinking that would appeal to their constituents and improve their hopes for re-election, rather than asking what can be done to help solve these problems.
Me, I’m rooting for those who look at ways to solve problems and not look for someone to blame.