It was a glorious sunny day in London, with not a plane in the sky.
The trees are coming into leaf, and so are the prospects for a hung parliament, which I think would be a good thing, especially if it ends the dreary old duopoly.
I watched Gordon Brown on the TV this morning huffing and puffing about the moral bankruptcy of Goldman Sachs, which is about to disburse billions in bonuses to its staff for a few months work.
He’s putting aside his beloved moral compass in favour of some populism. His connections with the company and his interest in keeping that goose laying have been well documented. At one time the City of London contributed 27% of his budget. Far from offering more regulation, his interest was in offering less.
By chance I later read a blog post with this eloquent graf
How societies conceive themselves is another matter entirely. Most societies, whether they bowed before Baal or Yahweh, Jesus or Goldman Sachs, have thought themselves moral. Today, as anyone who can bear to read the The Wall Street Journal Opinion page, or Investor’s Business Daily will know, the rich once again believe they are rich not because they are lucky or because they are powerful and have created a system that largely serves their ends and their interests, but because they are deserving, and have worked hard. And to those who say that this was what American capitalism claimed in the Gilded Age or the Coolidge administration, the capitalist propagandists of our day like Amity Shlaes or Daniel Henninger indignantly demand: What was wrong with the Gilded Age? And perhaps they will even win the ideological battle, at least for a while. Nietzsche, cutting to the point as always, wrote that, “Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”
David Rieff, in World Affairs
Rieff writes about the idea of having someone tell it like it is, and citing criticism by an Irish padre of the loss of morality in Ireland during the boom, wonders
Why is it apparently impossible for the archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, a man of immense power in America who is also a person with a genuine social conscience and a long history of activism on behalf of the poor, to make a speech about the selfishness, greed, and ethical collapse of American society during our boom years in a context as likely to draw public attention, and, in doing so, shift the terms of the debate
I found myself thinking somewhat similar thoughts, but not about Cardinals, the other day when I read a New York Times piece on the fallout arising from the repatriation of an adopted child to Russia (with some comments on the conditions in Russian orphanages in the comments), followed by an account of Roman Abramovich’s new $500m yacht.
Is there no limit to our tolerance of extremes of inequity and our celebration of wealth for its own sake? I wondered. Abramovich is a celebrity in London, because he owns Chelsea Football Club. Never mind how he made his money.
Now, with Goldman Sachs under indictment for fraud in the US and charged, with greed and bad judgement, so far, in Europe, it suddenly seems some kind of bottom has finally been plumbed, or soon will be.
The best development of the week has been the surge in Liberal Democrat support. I will be disappointed if the outcome is not a new era in UK politics, ideally one that includes the introduction of proportional representation with the single tranferrable vote system (preferred by the Electoral Reform Society).
It’s the silver lining result, largely of voter alienation following the MP’s expenses scandal and the recession. Our knowing about MPs expenses was never planned, but was an unintended consequence of the Freedom of Information Act and some good investigative reporting by the admirable Heather Brooke.