What’s wrong with being from a small town, or how did Ben Bernanke get started?

September 20, 2008

Governor Palin and her supporters believe that she is better qualified for the White House because she grew up in a small town. John Mellencamp country. Obama is from a dirty old city

Well, maybe she has a point. Ben Bernanke, if you aren’t aware, grew up in a small town, Dillon, South Carolina. Dillon is more famous for having a wedding chapel for quickie marriages and for the I-95 attraction South of Border. “Eef you follow pedro’s signz, ze treep seem MOCH shorter!” South of the Border is also known as “SOB.”

The Audible Smirk attended a rural high school himself (The Smirk is a he.) He grew up to write a blog that nobody reads. If you are reading this, that means you are a nobody

Ben’s pop was a phamacist. And Jewish, too. Hard to imagine a Jewish family in small town South Carolina, but there it is. A lot of people down South believe that Jews are money lender types, you know bankers. I know, I know. But you have to admit, in his case it’s true. However, many Southerners that much worse thoughts about Jews. Story short, growing up there must of shaped Ben’s character in interesting ways. 

BTW Ben’s middle name is Shalom. So, like Barack O., they both have a Semitic middle name.

Ben’s life story according to Wikipedia:

He was educated at East Elementary, J. V. Martin Junior High, and Dillon High School, where he was a high-achieving pupil. He taught himself calculus, edited the school newspaper, was class valedictorian and achieved the highest SAT score in the state that year — 1590 out of 1600.[5] He was also the All-State saxophonist, playing in the school’s marching band.[6]

I don’t think Palin was her high school’s valedictorian, else we would have heard of it by now. I would guess too that Ben wasn’t the point guard on his high school’s basketball team either, but I am sure he would have been a wily player. As for music, I read somewhere that she played the flute while competing for Miss Alaska. I would also bet that Palin has a mean air guitar.

During the summer, Bernanke attended Camp Ramah located in New England.

Ah, external influences! I would also imagine that it was his saving grace provided by his parents, who got him out of the confines of Dillon out into the larger world. 

Bernanke spent his undergraduate years at Harvard University and graduated with a B.A. in economics in 1975. Throughout college, he worked as a waiter to support himself during the summer at South of the Border, a roadside attraction in his hometown of Dillon.

Ok, Ben went to Harvard, Palin went to.. like 4 or 5 schools, Hawaii Pacific, North Idaho, Idaho, etc. You do have to credit the perserverance.

Wonder what lessons young Ben learned about finance by working for Pedro and watching how a roadside business was run. Actually it’s hard for me to fathom Bernanke working for tips at SOB. The only real restaurants there are the Sombrero Room and the Peddler steak house. Tips couldn’t have been great.

Alan Schafer would have been Ben’s boss at SOB and was the mind behind the concept and the billboards on I-95.  Alan also grew up Jewish and was a staunch Democrat. Young Ben learned about spotting recessions from Harvard, and from Alan:

Schafer noticed the Recession of ’91 even before it officially started. “People were coming in, but they would only buy the cheapest thing they could find,” he remembers. “We had to do something.”  Like Pedro seez, Ben can tell Congress that the economy is chili today but will be hot tamale.

Ben got his PhD from MIT in 1979, and I guess he hasn’t looked back. If this was the 1950s you could make a biopic about his life, “The Ben Bernanke Story.” Palin’s movie of course would be called “Barracuda.”

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