06.25.11

Krugman and Co. on ‘Greedism’

Posted in Decline and Fall at 10:07 am by George Smith

From a review of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present in the NY Review of Books:

In possibly the best chapter of the book, Madrick recounts the irony of how Reagan, the great moralizer, made unchecked greed and runaway individualism not only acceptable, but lauded, in the American psyche.


Replace “Great Depression” with “the financial crisis and its aftermath,” and it could be John Boehner today, rather than Friedman in 1962, speaking these words. Like Reagan, Friedman proclaimed a creed of greedism (our term)—that unchecked self-interest furthers the common good.


Madrick’s character-centered narrative makes it seem as if the triumph of greed was the result of a series of contingent events: the inflation of the 1970s, the exploitation of that inflation by Reagan and Friedman, the wheeling and dealing of the likes of Sandy Weill, and the diffidence of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Yet surely there must have been deeper forces at work.

We have argued elsewhere (and are not unique in doing so) that white backlash—especially Southern white backlash—against the civil rights movement transformed American politics, creating the opportunity for a major push to undermine the New Deal. Also, it’s hard to make sense of the growing ability of bankers to get the rules rewritten in their favor without talking about the role of money in politics, and how that role has metastasized over the past thirty years. There’s another book to be written here—perhaps less personality-centered and hence less entertaining than Madrick’s, but one that gets at the forces that made the reign of financial villains possible.


But today’s Republicans remain firmly attached to greedism … It has now become orthodoxy on the right—despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary—that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not Angelo Mozilo and Countrywide Credit, are to blame for the subprime mess. While proclaiming themselves defenders of the little guy, Republicans are currently hard at work undermining the Obama administration’s consumer protections that would largely prevent a replay of rapacious subprime lending.

Still only a 1-in-4 chance the GOP will smash the economy by refusing to raise the debit ceiling, at InTrade.


Reader J points to a speech at Bank of America Sucks.

“Blog that!” says an ex-military and intel man anonymously in this rant exhorting hackers to overturn the US government.

It sounds like and most probably is Robert Steele, not a hard guess since YouTube displays him in another video immediately after this one runs.

Part of the discussion is the speaker’s recommendation of open source intelligence, which Steele has long advocated.

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