Saturday, March 05, 2005

Is Greenspan demented?

Greenspan is 79 years old on March 6th. The vast majority of humans have measurable and significant cognitive impairment by age 79. Early dementia is common, though given Greenspan's base intellect he will function well even when significantly impaired.

One of the common features of the natural and inevitable decay of the brain is a return to old beliefs, frequently with a loss of judgment and flexibility. Beliefs like these:
The Moose's post today linked to an AEI article by Bill Bradford about Greenspan's much-reported but oft-forgotten association with the Objectivist cult of novelist and proto-libertarian Ayn Rand. I thought I knew the story pretty well, but two things really startled me in Bradford's piece: (1) Greenspan went straight from Rand's inner circle (ironically but accurately known as 'The Collective') into the 1968 presidential campaign of Richard Nixon. In fact, Greenspan was already knee-deep in conventional Republican politics when he signed onto Rand's bizarre excommunication of her protege and former lover Nathaniel Brandon. (2) When asked during various Senate confirmation hearings over the years if he still adhered to Randian dogmas like abolition of all regulations and a return to the gold standard, Greenspan gave no sign of a change of heart or mind.
I don't think Greenspan has become particularly corrupt in his old age. I do think he may suffer from the typical cognitive impairment of a 79 yo man; an impairment that will be somewhat masked by his high baseline IQ.

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