The Guardian reviews Joe Stiglitz’s new book:

The ancient Greeks had a word for it – pleonexia – which means an overreaching desire for more than one’s share. As Melissa Lane explained in last year’s Eco-Republic: Ancient Thinking for a Green Age, this vice was often paired with hubris, a form of arrogance directed especially against the gods and therefore doomed to fail. The Greeks saw tyrants as fundamentally pleonetic in their motivation. As Lane writes: “Power served greed and so to tame power, one must tame greed.”

Given shape, fluency, substance and authority by Stiglitz. He does so not in the name of revolution – although he tells the 1% that their bloody time may yet come – but in order that capitalism be snatched back from free market fundamentalism and put to the service of the many, not the few.

In the 1970s and 80s, “the Chicago boys”, from the Chicago school of economics, led by Milton Friedman, developed their anti-regulation, small state, pro-privatisation thesis – and were handed whole countries, aided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on which to experiment, among them Thatcher’s Britain, Reagan’s America, Mexico and Chile. David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism describes how the democratically elected Salvador Allende was overthrown in Chile and the Chicago boys brought in. Under their influence, nationalisation was reversed, public assets privatised, natural resources opened up to unregulated exploitation (anyone like to buy one of our forests?), the unions and social organisations were torn apart and foreign direct investment and “freer” trade were facilitated. Rather than wealth trickling down, it rapidly found its way to the pinnacle of the pyramid. As Stiglitz explains, these policies were – and are – protected by myths, not least that the highest paid “deserve” their excess of riches.
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Diverse dining

I find this to be a real pain in the ass. I used to host dinner parties, but everyone has such specific food needs now, it’s too much trouble.

It’s a shame, though. There’s something to be said for the social aspect of eating.

Drones vs. torture

Tom Junod:

As a grizzled veteran of a Catholic education I have, despite an agnosticism that verges on unbelief, an inordinate and ingrained interest in the health of men’s souls. Old habits die hard. One of the things that concerned me about the Bush administration’s commitment to torture in the name of enhanced interrogation, for example, is that Americans were being asked by an ostensibly Christian administration to do it: to commit acts that seemed unjustifiable by any Christian code, and to expose themselves to the risk of judgement, whether in the here and now or in the great beyond.

I know that Andrew Sullivan had the same kind of upbringing, and have always suspected that he has the same kinds of concerns. Which is why it surprised me when in his Wednesday post on my story about “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama,” he seemed to buy in to the Obama administration’s largest unspoken assumption:

That killing represents a moral upgrade over capture and interrogation — over torture.

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Hard Times: Lost on Long Island

I remember predicting this when talking to one of my daughter-in-law’s affluent relatives the night before their wedding, back in October 2008. He was skeptical, made some comment that anyone who really wanted a job could always find one. “You’ll see,” I said.

I wonder if he watched this.

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