The Sunday papers and their continuing coverage of the financial implosion have energized a rainy Sunday morning, here at Winedale. To the accompaniment of birdsong, we read of the Citigroup disaster.
Greed was at the heart of it, of course. There was too much money to be made and all the other guys were doing it...But also there was the fundamental belief among our nation's leaders for the past maybe 12 years that markets are governed by rationality; that people acting in the market would make rational decisions, as though the rational, thinking, cognitive part of the brain were actually in control.
Anyone who's tried to diet knows otherwise. We've got this rational brain, sitting on top of a seething mass of ancient drives. The rational part wants to be in control, and often fools us by declaring that it is in control. By the time a human being is in a position to destroy lives, she/he should know that's not true.
You're at a restaurant and you've managed to resist eating too much when the waiter comes by with the dessert cart. There's this impossibly gooey, chocolate decadence glistening on the plate before you. That's when your rational brain should say: No, I've had more than enough food and it was delicious. But what it says instead is: oh, just this one time won't hurt.
"This one time" became the everyday culture for Citigroup and all the other brilliant and doomed financial institutions. A leadership comprised of dieting women might have avoided some of it. At least they would have recognized the process by which "decisions" were being made.