Friday, July 24, 2009

Pull Peddlers

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand describes in great detail the type of bureaucratic leaders who emerge when the wall between economics and state is broken. (She uses the term "pull peddlers" to denote these men, and points out that they become more prevalent and more powerful as the mixed economy slips towards outright statism.) Today's NY Times article describing the new head of Calpers provides a concretization of this type of person and his qualifications:
He was hired in large part for his management skills and political savvy — honed in Washington, where (sic) headed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the Clinton years. He does not have an M.B.A. or any other advanced degree in finance. Harvard, Yale or Wharton is not on his résumé. Instead, his lone degree, in political economy, is from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

“My career sort of culminates in this job, where this combination of investment and political management and organization management come together because that’s what Calpers needs,” he said in his expansive corner office decorated with a photo of himself and Bono. (Bono was a general partner in an equity fund in which the Washington State fund invested.)
(And as an aside, notice the NYT's double standard in its reporting: if private pension funds took significant risks to "double-down" as it were, they'd be crucified by the media; when a quasi-public official does it, he's admired and praised for his "daring". Only the unquestioning acceptance of altruism and the transmorgrifying effect of the term "for the public good" can explain this type of inconsistency.)

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