If you have read my recent post on Ayn Rand, or if you keep tabs on right wing pseudo-intellectualism in general, you might be interested in Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times today. Writing about the ongoing mortgage debacle, he derides Alan Greenspan and others for their inaction regarding the real estate lending bubble that is now deflating rapidly and with great consequences for the economy as a whole. He regards it as a triumph of extreme ideology, and he specifically singles out for mention Alan Greenspan and his lifelong devotion to the ideas of Ayn Rand. I quote:
In a 1963 essay for Ms. Rand’s newsletter, Mr. Greenspan dismissed as a “collectivist” myth the idea that businessmen, left to their own devices, “would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings.” On the contrary, he declared, “it is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product.”
Sound familiar? How can anyone believe such rot? Then or now? Of course, the Nobelist Milton Friedman was similarly hypnotized by the “power of the market.” So interesting, then, to read Adam Smith, the granddad of modern economics and to see his views on the merchant class. I quote once again his remarks on the merchant class, from The Wealth of Nations:
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
Of course, I can’t resist putting in another Gillray link, this time on the theme of uncorking…