Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shocking Apostasy

Alan Greenspan was there at the founding:

Mr. Greenspan met [Ayn] Rand when he was 25 and working as an economic forecaster. She was already renowned as the author of “The Fountainhead,” a novel about an architect true to his principles. Mr. Greenspan had married a member of Rand’s inner circle, known as the Collective, that met every Saturday night in her New York apartment. Rand did not pay much attention to Mr. Greenspan until he began praising drafts of “Atlas,” which she read aloud to her disciples, according to Jeff Britting, the archivist of Ayn Rand’s papers. He was attracted, Mr. Britting said, to “her moral defense of capitalism.” ... Shortly after “Atlas Shrugged” was published in 1957, Mr. Greenspan wrote a letter to The New York Times to counter a critic’s comment that “the book was written out of hate.” Mr. Greenspan wrote: “ ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”
To call Alan Greenspan a true believer in the god of market fundamentalism would be akin to calling Moses a true believer in the god of the Old Testament -- he was on the scene as the plates were etched, inhaling the very vapors rising from the burning bush. That being so, it's difficult to overstate the gravity of this deconversion:
Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said Thursday that the current financial crisis had uncovered a flaw in how the free market system works that had shocked him.

Mr. Greenspan told the House Oversight Committee on Thursday that his belief that banks would be more prudent in their lending practices because of the need to protect their stockholders had proved to be wrong.

Mr. Greenspan said he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks operating in their self-interest would be enough to protect their shareholders and the equity in their institutions.

Mr. Greenspan said that he had found “a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.”

Mr. Greenspan, who headed the nation’s central bank for 18.5 years, said that he and others who believed lending institutions would do a good job of protecting their shareholders are in a “state of shocked disbelief.”
This is the equivalent of Moses waking up one morning and realizing that it had all been an absurd dream.

And as it happens, it was.


larryniven said...

We should've known not to trust him when we learned that he was buddies with Ayn Rand. That Objectivism stuff of hers is just crap.

Sis B said...

My comment turned in to a blog post.

Great. Now I'm gonna get 500 hits again and bring in all the crazies.

Paul said...

LOL Sis! I thought I was cursed when that sort of thing happened on occasion to me. Now I know it's just par for the course.

Great post, Dale! Ten minutes before I read it, I was thinking of doing my own post on the link between Greenspan and Rand. If I go ahead with it now, I'll have to come up with a new angle. Gee. Thanks a lot! :D

Seriously, Ayn Rand's philosophy is surprisingly shallow in several places, and it shocked me to learn a while back that the Federal Reserve had been entrusted to a follower of hers. Kind of like learning Micky Mouse has been elected mayor of your city.

Sis B said...

But look how great Disney World is! Mickey for Mayor!

I realized that I should clarify my earlier comment--I don't think I'll be getting 500 hits from crazies because I put this in a comment on your precious, precious blog (although it is possible). Rather, that's what happened last time I waxed political on my own semi-precious blog.

Dale said...

I understand, Sis. We each have our stock of weirdos that pick up certain scents, somehow, and show up crawling from their hidey-holes. Best of luck on those.

Paul, LN, the market fundamentalists and Objectivists are their own special kind of crazy. I don't want to live in that cartoon, and contrary to the most dedicated of them, none of us do live in that cartoon.

larryniven said...

"But look how great Disney World is!"

Oh don't even get me started. Never in my life did I expect to pay $3 for a goddamn bottle of water. Disney is the most horrifying display of rampant capitalism I've ever seen (although, full disclosure, I've never been to Vegas). I'd much rather go to my local amusement park (for the record, Kennywood) any day.

Paul said...

I've never been to Disney World, but I remember Sean Hannity stating that our troops in Iraq were fighting for our right to take our families there. He said it three times in one week. After that, I could no longer listen to him even for the laughs.