Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thanks a million, Ayn Rand, for setting the greedy free

The trickle-down theory beloved of Greenspan and his ilk is less a philosophy than a handy excuse for avarice

Naomi Klein
Saturday September 29, 2007
The Guardian

".....Since I began touring with my book The Shock Doctrine, I have had a number of exchanges like this, revolving around the same basic question: when hard-right political leaders and their advisers apply brutal economic shock therapy, do they honestly believe the trickle-down effects will build equitable societies - or are they just deliberately creating the conditions for yet another corporate feeding frenzy? Put bluntly: has the world been transformed over the past three decades by lofty ideology or by lowly greed?......

Much of the debate around Greenspan's legacy has revolved around the matter of hypocrisy, of a man preaching laissez faire who repeatedly intervened in the market to save the wealthiest players. The economy that is Greenspan's legacy hardly fits the definition of a libertarian market, but looks very much like another phenomenon described in his book: "When a government's leaders routinely seek out private-sector individuals or businesses and, in exchange for political support, bestow favours on them, the society is said to be in the grip of 'crony capitalism'.".....

.....Then he discovered Ayn Rand. "What she did ... was to make me think why capitalism is not only efficient and practical, but also moral," he said in 1974.

Rand's ideas about the "utopia of greed" allowed Greenspan to keep doing what he was doing but infused his corporate service with a powerful new sense of mission: making money wasn't just good for him, it was good for society as a whole. Of course, the flip side of this is the cruel disregard for those left behind. "Undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfilment," Greenspan wrote as a zealous new convert. "Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should." Was it this mindset that served him well as he supported shock therapy in Russia (72 million impoverished) and east Asia after the 1997 economic crisis (24 million pushed into unemployment)?......"

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