I don’t know enough about economics to have much of an opinion about the likely selection of Gene Sperling to replace Larry Summers at the National Economic Council. On balance, I don’t think that the million he got for doing quasi-charitable stuff for Goldman Sachs is particularly damning.
Nevertheless, I find the debate over his selection depressing. Felix Salmon is persuasive (even if I’m not completely convinced) as the loudest voice against Sperling. This has made Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg — who co-authored a book with Bob Rubin himself — so angry that he’s using the David Brooks-style all-caps made-up phrase “Main Street Puritans” to attack Sperling’s critics. He sneers:
I suppose that in a perfect world, officials would be members of a flagellant order, coming to Washington from their monastic cells and reaffirming their vows of poverty afterward. But that wouldn’t work, either, because economic policymakers would have no feel for markets, business, or life in the real world.
That’s what it’s all about when Bob Rubin takes a $100 million from Citigroup after being Treasury Secretary, it’s about maintaining a feel for markets.
Oh, the sacrifices our Galtian overlords make to better serve their undeserving countrymen!