Cutting taxes is again in vogue in a Washington, D.C., increasingly dismayed by the utter inability of the massive Obama stimulus package to jolt the economy back to life. President Obama himself has become a grudging disciple of the Bush tax cuts, and is now advocating an extension of the tax reductions beyond their expiry at year’s end — but only for Americans earning less than $200,000.
It was news to many when Scott Powell announced that an obscure novel published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged, “may be second to the Bible as the most influential book read in America.” His statement that BB&T, the 12th largest bank in America, which resisted taking TARP bailout funds, requires reading of that same book as part of its management training program astonished many more.
Economist Niall Ferguson of Harvard wrote an article entitled “Complexity and Collapse” for the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ferguson uses the visual image of a series of paintings by Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire, which currently hangs at the New York Historical Society, to illustrate his point that every society goes through five stages. He says that Cole “beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day.”