¶ Matins: Regular readers will have learned to sigh when I mention the name of Alan Greenspan. I have certainly felt like something of a crank on the subject of this man’s failure to stanch the market’s foolishness. So I felt rather transfigured by the discovery that I was not alone: witness Peter S Goodman’s “Taking Hard New Look at a Greenspan Legacy.”
¶ Tierce: Cook County Sheriff Thomas J Dart has called a halt to foreclosure evictions in Chicago. John Leland reports. In many cases, diligent renters are unaware of a property owner’s default until the marshalls would show up to evict them.
¶ Sext: Nom de Plume sent me the link to a curious video, of unexplained provenance (and 1999 vintage), concerning, straight-faced, the unlikely bond between a crow and a kitten. I watched it in wait for a surprise, but there was none.
§ Matins. What it really comes down to is the profound incompatibility between any genuinely humanist view of life and the frantic, furious selfishness of Ayn Rand and her disciples — of whom Mr Greenspan is certainly the one to achieve the greatest power in economic affairs.
“Risk management can never achieve perfection,” he wrote. The villains, he wrote, were the bankers whose self-interest he had once bet upon.
“They gambled that they could keep adding to their risky positions and still sell them out before the deluge,” he wrote. “Most were wrong.”
No federal intervention was marshaled to try to stop them, but Mr. Greenspan has no regrets.
“Governments and central banks,” he wrote, “could not have altered the course of the boom.”
This is, amazingly, nothing other than the ethic of the Dark Ages — the centuries between which Charlemagne briefly shone the light of effective government. It is the grasp of rapacious entitlement, gloved in “honor.”
§ Prime. The Times doesn’t have much of a story yet, but you’ll be happy to know that Mr Le Clézio’s later fiction is charming and accessible. (Unlike the experimental early stuff that doubtless won him the prize.) What I’ve read of it is, anyway — I’m afraid that I’ve never quite finished anything. Although born in Nice, Le Clézio comes from a colonial family, settled in Mauritius (formerly the Ile de France) since the Eighteenth Century. He is actually well-known to French readers!
§ Tierce. There’s something rough and ready about Sheriff Dart’s decision that may not hold up in the courts. At the same time, it signals a groundswell in public awareness that our still-medieval legal apparatus has got to be updated.
§ Sext. When it was over, I really began to scratch my head. Far less disturbing than the sight of a bird feeding worms to a cat is the “message” that the human beings in the clip take away from the spectacle: Trust makes all things possible. Or, be nice to your neighbors, even if you don’t know them. That is all very good advice, but the anthropomorphism of affecting to learn it from dumb creatures is staggeringly naive. It’s what comes of learning to speak only one language.