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.He calls it “hedge fund disease” and says “it should be in the DSM-V [the latest manual of psychiatric disorders, currently in preparation].It used to be suffered only by kings and dictators.The symptoms are megalomania, plus narcissism, plus solipsism.” If you’re worth $500 million, he asks, “how could you be wrong about anything? To think something is to make it happen.You’re God.” This is the state of mind promoted by every positive thinker from Mary Baker Eddy to Joel Osteen, from Norman Vincent Peale to Rhonda Byrne.Corporate chiefs had, perhaps somewhat cynically, long recommended it to their underlings.They had distributed motivational books and brought in motivational speakers to inspire people to visualize success, to work harder and complain less.The problem is that they came to believe it themselves, with the eventual result that, in a short period of time, about $3 trillion worth of pension funds, retirement accounts, and life savings evaporated into the same ether that had absorbed all our positive thoughts.“Where were the grown-ups?” asked the commentators as the economy unraveled in 2008.Where were the regulators, the watch-dogs, the rating agencies, like Moody’s, that were supposed to make careful assessments of investment risks? Well, the rating agencies, as we have learned, were in the pocket of the very companies they were supposed to be judging—were even paid by them, perversely enough.35 As for the public and quasi-public sector, it was in the grip of its own optimistic faith—market fundamentalism, or the idea that markets are self-correcting and in no need of burdensome regulation.One true believer was Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve until 2006, who had crowed in 2005 that “the impressive performance of the U.S.economy over the past couple of decades offers clear evidence of the benefits of increased market flexibility,” with “flexibility” meaning freedom from regulation and burdensome trade unions.Three years later he was eating crow, famously admitting to a congressional committee that “those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity are in a state of shocked disbelief.” 36And what was market fundamentalism other than runaway positive thinking? In the ideology that prevailed in the Bush administration and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the Clinton administration before it, there was no need for vigilance or anxiety about America’s financial institutions, because “the market” would take care of everything.It achieved the status of a deity, this market, closely related to Mary Baker Eddy’s benevolent, ever-nurturing, and all-supplying universe.Why worry, when Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” would straighten everything out?The purveyors of positive thinking did not slink off into the night like foreclosed-upon homeowners when the prospects for instant wealth tanked in the late years of the decade.Not at all.In fact, they seemed to redouble their efforts.Positive thinking has always thrived in adversity, with the Great Depression bringing forth such classics of self-delusion as Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich! In late 2008, as the financial meltdown touched off general economic decline and widespread unemployment, as the commentators increasingly questioned the durability of capitalism itself, attendance was soaring at evangelical churches, including those offering the prosperity gospel.37 Joel and Victoria Osteen took to the national media with their message of victory and faith, telling Larry King that their advice to people who had lost their jobs, their homes, and their health insurance was to avoid seeing themselves “as victims”: “You’ve got to know that God still has a plan and that even if you lost your job, even if one door closes, God can open up another door.” A new series of “Get Motivated!” seminars was announced, featuring Rudolph Giuliani, Robert Schuller, and veteran motivator Zig Ziglar.A speakers agency reported that requests from mortgage companies for motivational speakers rose 20 percent as the mortgage industry declined in 2007.38Employers turned to the motivation industry for the usual reason—to maintain discipline within a demoralized workforce.The pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, for example, bought up seven hundred “Positive Power” CDs from motivational speaker Ed Blunt, hoping they would serve as “a catalyst for employee productivity.” 39 A late November 2008 conference on “Happiness and Its Causes” attracted, among hundreds of others, a senior vice president of a large mortgage company.As the New York Times reported, she said that “she had laid off more than 500 people in the last six months, and was there to learn how to boost the morale of employees working weekends and holidays and making do with bonuses cut in half,.adding that companies like hers were not totally at fault for the mortgage crisis [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]