Thursday, November 13, 2014

Positive Difference through Public Service

I have plenty of regrets about my time in public service, starting with all the pain I caused my family, through my absences as well as my public notoriety.

[...]I loved my work in government, and I’m proud of what I did in public life, but I couldn’t do it forever.

[...]I also hope this crisis encourages Americans to reconsider the value of strong public institutions and capable public servants. When we were successful in limiting the damage, it was with the force available only to governments and central banks. And there is no viable strategy for reducing the damage of future crises that does not depend on strong government rules and oversight, and the ability to attract talented people to oversee the system. The success of our financial rescue did not solve the many problems we still face as a nation, from high levels of poverty to global warming to appalling inequality in access to quality education and health care. These challenges will require better government—not necessarily more government, but smarter policies, designed on the merits, less distorted by politics and money. It would be good for the country if we could bring a similar level of creativity and ambition and force to these challenges, along with the quintessentially American pragmatism that helped keep us out of the financial abyss.

There are lessons for the world in our mistakes as well as our successes. My hope is that they won’t have to be rediscovered in the fires of the next crisis.

[...]Public service is filled with opportunities to make a positive difference, but it comes with challenges. I did it for twenty-five years because I believed in the cause and loved the craft of economic policy. But that would not have been true without the people around me who chose to devote some or all of their careers to serving their country.
from Timothy F. Geithner, Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises

Addendum: Geithner’s private farewell to Obama and Treasury staff

0 comments: