Global Agenda: Bourbon rabbis

Global Agenda Bourbon r

It was the Bourbons who lost Canada to the British, although in fairness, they weren't the ones who negotiated the Louisiana sale (from the French perspective) to the Americans. But all in all, the French record in the Americas is pretty miserable; they did better elsewhere - but in imperial terms, they missed out on the Big One. Spanish is spoken everywhere in the Americas; English (of a sort) throughout North America (and the Falkland Islands). Other than Quebec and Haiti, you have to go to over to Chad and Mali to find an indigenous French-speaking population. Nevertheless, the Bourbons have managed to belatedly conquer New York. The royal house of whom it was said, after their restoration in 1815, that "they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing" in the period since the French Revolution almost 30 years earlier - or at least its spiritual legacy - now holds sway in the centers of economic and financial power in the US. How else is it possible to explain the collective effort on the part of everyone in the financial sector to gloss over the seemingly obvious lessons of the crash of 2008 and get back to the status quo ante. If it was just the fat cats seeking to protect their ill-gotten gains, then at least it would understandable behavior - sickening, no doubt, but not surprising. But what about the rest of the cast? Even a cursory reading of the mainstream media reveals that everyone is back to their old tricks. The banks, swimming in liquidity thanks to the massive infusions of money by central banks around the world, are lending to hedge funds and other financial entities whose sole raison d'etre is to speculate in the financial markets. The banks are unwilling to lend to regular firms, nor are the latter very interested in borrowing - because they have no desire to invest in new plant and equipment, since there is a surplus of virtually every kind of productive capacity. Nor is the general public eager to borrow anymore. That is the sole area in which a fundamental change has undeniably occurred. There are many sectors - media, advertising, finance, etc. - that are making strenuous efforts to undermine or erode that change, but they will probably fail. The general public, having recovered from its maniacal property-buying binge, has genuinely changed its ways. Not so the investing public, or what's left of it. All the old ills have reappeared as soon as the black clouds lightened; even day-trading, that symbol of the mania-before-last (the Nasdaq/Internet boom of the late 1990s), is back and booming. The fact that the ratio of prices to operating earnings of the S&P 500 shares is at by far the highest level ever seen is another sign that the party of 1999 never really ended, it just took a break. Learning nothing and forgetting nothing is not intelligent behavior. It is also not moral. That is not to say it is immoral, rather that it is amoral. The difference between the two terms is vast, conceptually and in practice. Let's just use this simple quote from Wikipedia: "One who is amoral denies the existence of morality, whereas one who is immoral believes in the existence of morality but chooses not to comply with it." The incredible thing is how many people who consider themselves "religious" - let's stick to Jews, although obviously the same applies to other religions - are actually amoral in many respects, especially with respect to money. They effectively deny the existence of morality in financial affairs. Most amazing of all is the phenomenon of the amoral rabbinate. An inordinate number of rabbis, especially Orthodox ones and most especially ultra-Orthodox ones, are practicing amoralists when it comes to money matters. And for those of you already composing letters of outrage in response to that statement - spare me your cant. Instead, try reviewing this past year's news events, from Lehman to Madoff to the big deal in Deal, and then review the articles, sermons, lectures and other material written and spoken by rabbis and other community leaders on these issues, in the period 2003-2008 and in the last year. The news review will take considerably longer, and the review of the material from the years of bubble and boom will take no time at all. There was probably more on the subject during that period in the Christian Science Monitor than in all the Jewish newspapers and periodicals in the world. That just about says it all.