Daily Office:


Matins: An unpleasant story about layoffs from today’s Times. I cite it not as news but as fodder for thought: consider how poorly the philosophy (so to speak) of de- or unregulated free markets has served smart men and women — in particular, what an infernal idea it has been for the ever-fewer occupants of the ever-more-massive pinnacles of American business.

Tierce: Rapacious enough when things are going “well,” the Republican Party shows its fangs — and its tail — when the going gets rough. Currently presiding over an American economic disaster for the second time, they stand forth as the Take The Money And Run Party.

Boy, does Mitch McConnell not get it.

End of Afternoon Update: Even more shamelessness, as conservative senators attempt to break the UAW as part of any bailout deal.

Compline: I’m off to Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Museum, for a chamber concert to be given by Musicians from Marlboro. Will there be yet another Elliott Carter centennial celebration?


§ Matins. In the Thirties, smart people drew from the Depression a lesson against capitalism that turned out to be largely unhelpful. What I hope we’ll learn this time is that businessmen, left to their own devices, are remarkably stupid and short-sighted about Business. They’re supposed to be the ones who know how to run a railroad. But then, consider the history of railroads in America!

There used to be a saying, that Americans couldn’t run a successful steamship company. They didn’t know how to work the subsidies. That’s another way of saying that they didn’t know how to take care of people and turn a profit (which is what the business of transportation is all about). Could it be that Americans, great entrepreneurs thought they be, don’t have much of a head for ongoing business?

Some of the BoA layoffs will take the form of attrition. But a substantial portion of that 35,000-employee figure will have every reason to wonder about the intelligence of their employers.

§ Tierce.

The Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said: “We have had before us this whole question of the viability of the American automobile manufacturers. None of us want to see them go down, but very few of us had anything to do with the dilemma that they have created for themselves.”

Mr. McConnell added: “The administration negotiated in good faith with the Democratic majority a proposal that was simply unacceptable to the vast majority of our side because we thought it frankly wouldn’t work.”

They thought it wouldn’t work — that’s a new criterion for Congressional Republicans! What part of the word “thought”do they understand?

§ Compline. How nice it is that Mr Carter, who has been showing up at concerts in the worst sort of weather for the past couple of seasons, can take it easy now, and not risk slipping on the ice.

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