Memo To: Website browsers, fans, clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Road to Hell, etc.
Almost two years ago, we posted this "Memo on the Margin," which does not look bad in retrospect. We are especially proud of the woman on the list, whose good intentions have produced death and destruction in Yugoslavia on a most admirable scale.
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On January 2 , we decided to open the new year with a celebration of the Evil Empire, listing the ten most evil men in the world. We ran the list again on June 26 and asked for nominations, to freshen it up. Iíve decided to broaden the list to include those we know who are paving the road to hell with their good intentions. We will call them "Dangerous," rather than "Evil."
1) Michel Camdessus, executive director of the IMF, Darth Vader himself. He still leads the way, uncontested at the top of this dark institution in the amount of suffering it continues to generate throughout the world with its truly evil economic policies. The collapse of Zaire can be chalked up to Camdessus, who adds the stuffed head of Mobutu to the trophies over his mantle. Stanley Fischer, chief economist of the IMF, formerly professor at MIT. He is the fellow at Camdessusís elbow and was in second place in our Evil Empire list, but is now recognized as part of the Camdessus problem.
2) Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who has been glorified by the news media on the grounds that she is willing to say any damned thing that comes into her head. In fact, for that reason she is a walking time bomb, given her position. Her denunciation of China for sending 4,000 troops to Hong Kong on July 1, instead of explaining that the action was in keeping with Chinaís responsibilities, could have triggered demonstrations -- which is what the news media hoped would happen. But the people of Hong Kong knew better. One of these days, she will break some China.
3) Lewis Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank. Wolfie had escaped our attention last January, because he has been keeping a low profile. We have since discovered that his team at the World Bank is now working on poisoning the econonomies of the developing world, giving Camdessus a helping hand. Wolfensohn replaces Rudiger Dornbusch, professor of economics, MIT, who had been roaming the world urging unsuspecting governments to devalue their currencies and raise taxes. Dornbusch, we understand, became distressed at his listing here and has decided to promote monetary stability for as long as he can stand it.
4) Helmut Kohl, chancellor Germany, new to the list as a result of his antics over the Euro. Once a favorite of ours, his aged, corpulent figure now mirrors the bloated, sclerotic EU economy. He deserves recognition for his single-minded devotion to the European currency, a ham-fisted attempt to impose a democratic socialist counterweight to the democratic capitalist dollar.
5) Bob Rubin, Treasury Secretary. Rubin replaces Lawrence Summers, who had enjoyed this slot in the January list. Several website browsers nominated Rubin and we agreed his willingness to tell outright lies about the GOP tax legislation -- no doubt for some greater good -- warrants this recognition. Rubin is not a perpetual danger. For the most part he keeps his head down and takes Alan Greenspanís advice. We expect he will soon be encouraging a veto of the tax bill, though, which increases the problems he can create.
6) House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Like Mike Tyson, Newt can be warm and cuddly, but he can also cut off his ears to spite his face. There is no telling what he will do when he gets to the office on any morning of the week, which makes him truly a hazard to our health. His latest whizbang idea, paying off the national debt before tax rates are cut to where they should be, earned him this place of honor. His ramblings could easily have serious, negative, practical effects.
7) Paul Krugman, MIT economist now at Stanford, chief economist of the Microsoft Slate, drops from sixth place. Krugman still roams the world warning unsuspecting governments of emerging markets to discourage foreign equity investments, or else what happened to Mexico will happen to them.
8) Fred Bergsten, director, Institute for International Economics, Wash. DC. Bergsten holds the worldís record for talking governments into devaluing their currencies for fun and profit, including the United States in 1971. The term manic devaluationist was coined especially to fit Fred. A charter member of the Evil Empire.
9) Gary Bauer, head of the Family Research Council. Like Gingrich, Bauer was a tower of strength in the Reagan years in helping the economic team get the country turned around. Now he is using his clout with the Christian political community to engage in conservative social engineering. A key figure in the China-bashing movement, Bauer has allowed himself to be manipulated into a propaganda role that goes far beyond his domestic, family-values goals. He now leads the fight to deny sales of supercomputers to China. A perfect example of a man with good intentions run amok, paving the road-to-hell.
10) Jeffrey Sachs, Harvard economist and henchman who espoused burning down entire economies that donít work in the belief that good ones will soon emerge -- "shock therapy." Sachs and his Swedish cohort Anders Asland have been milking the U.S. taxpayers to promote their evil deeds, via contracts with the State Department. Now it seems the Harvard group set up to front for them with the Agency for International Development has been caught playing the markets in Moscow. Sachs still has one powerful friend left, Michael Weinstein of The New York Times editorial page, who has been flacking for Sachs since 1989. Still, he drops from fourth to tenth, as he is currently radioactive.
Dropped from the List as Insufficiently Dangerous at the moment: Jacques DeLors, who had been eighth on the list, director of the European Community Commission, the evil twin brother of Michel Camdessus, separated at birth, whose life goal is to hammer everyone on earth down to the lowest common denominator. Also, James Tobin, professor of economics, Yale University, who had been ninth on the list, the grand daddy of the devaluationists, whose work spawned an entire generation of neo-Keynesian globetrotters. Tobinís dangerous influence has dropped to the level of Milton Friedmanís, who was once near the top of the Most Dangerous list, before monetarism became discredited. In the tenth spot but now off the list is Saddam Hussein.
Nominated but without sufficient support for recognition:
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, who epitomizes the lust for power that enables people on this list to justify their words and policy positions on the grounds that the ends justify the means. The purety of Gephardtís lack of principle makes him dangerous in the position he holds, but with no subtlety in his pandering for power, he canít be effective in doing much ill. If he had Dick Morris to counsel him, he could easily move to the top of the list, however.
Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard. We have come to call him Beltway Bill of the Beltway Standard. Kristol was nominated and came close to making the list, but his reputation as a bigdome GOP strategist has sagged as he has dashed thither and yon chasing the limelight -- saying anything it takes to get attention for himself and his fledgling periodical. His idea that the Republican Party has to have at least a Cold War, if not occasional shooting wars, to be effective -- with China the likeliest candidate -- puts him into a fringe category that reduces his danger.
Bud Selig, commissioner of baseball, nominated for his earnest, single-handed attempts to destroy baseball in the shortest possible time. The breakdown of discipline and standards of behavior, the rampant commercialism, the end to the century-old league structure, are carrying the game further and further away from its position as the national pastime.
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Happily, here in 1999, we note that Helmut Kohl and Newt Gingrich have been disposed of, which opens up two slots on the list. Gary Bauer is now a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, but he is no longer dangerous, as a result of the cultural conservatives being crushed in the 1998 congressional elections under his leadership. Michel Camdessus and Madeleine Albright are still among the most dangerous people on earth, at or near the top of the list, but she now seems to be ordering him around, which means she is on top in their coupling. These are the only two surefire bets in another round of rankings. The other five are still in the running, but I invite you to make your nominations for the new list we will post early in May. Iíll begin by nominating Bill Clinton as the most dangerous person on earth, now that he has learned how much fun it is to drop bombs on people in faraway places.