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Stephen Lewis on Infrastructure, Identity, Communication, and Change

Greenspan Wakes Up and the Ideology of Republican Orthography

Posted by Stephen Lewis on October 28, 2008

A photo on the front page of October 24’s New York Times portraying a very bemused Alan Greenspan bore this caption:

“Testifying before a House committee almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending, leaving himself ‘in a state of shocked disbelief.'”

What leaves this writer bemused is how Greenspan managed to maintain his professed faith in things as imaginary and counter-intuitive as the “invisible hand” and market efficacy — let alone his job and influence — for as long as he did. The economic and social damage wrought by the blindness and cynicism of free market proponents is incalculable. (For the full text of the article but, unfortunately, without the front page photo, click here)

Also last week …

On Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn I spotted two posters neatly affixed to a boarded-up storefront one above the other. The top poster bore the simple text: Ron Paul for President 2008.  (Note to non-US readers: Ron Paul was a “libertarian” fringe candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.)  The bottom poster was more concise: Vaccination’s (sic) Cause Autism.” The controversial thesis of the sign aside, the orthography of its text — vaccination’s instead of vaccinations — reveals more than the carelessness of its author. The misplaced apostrophe is a suitable metaphor for Republicans’ inability to conceive of collective ownership or collective responsibility and for their abrogation of all matters beyond personal aggrandizement to “invisible hands” and other imaginary arbiters of “self-correction.”


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