The Crash of the Greed Machine by Thomas L. Ashtonn”Thy money perish with thee, because thou hastnthought that the gift of God may be purchasednwith money.”n—Acts, 20nThe Great Depression of 1990 bynRavi Batra, New York: Simon andnSchuster; $17.95.nThe Empire Builders: Inside thenHarvard Business School by J.nPaul Mark, New York: Wm.nMorrow; $19.95.nLevine & Co.: Wall Street’snInsider Trading Scandal bynDouglas Frantz, New York: HenrynHolt; $19.95.nTrading Secrets: Seduction andnScandal at the Wall Street Journalnby R. Foster Winans, New York:nSt. Martin’s Press; $17.95.nBeyond Our Means: HownAmerica’s Long Years of Debt,nDeficits, and Reckless BorrowingnNow Threaten to Overwhelm Usnby Alfred L. Malabre, New York:nRandom House; $17.95.nThe Big Board’s 508-point marketnmeltdown was investigated bynpresidential commission, Congress, thenSEC, and the major stock exchanges.nEach of these bodies concluded thatnstocks fell because they were alreadynmuch too high. But the unanimity ofnthese financial Newtons is frightening.nBy blaming the stock market crash onnthe law of gravity, each avoided pointingna finger at themselves. And their collectivenirresponsibility raises the fear ofneven greater financial chaos, as thenglobal greed machine crashes to a halt.nThat’s why Ravi Batra’s prophecy ofneconomic disaster made it to the best-nThomas L. Ashton teaches businessncommunications and English at thenUniversity of Massachusetts innAmherst. He is currently ancontributing author for HumenPublishing’s Successful Investing &nMoney Management.nseller lists. Panned by economists, callednquackery by the financial establishment,nit has still sold like hotcakes. Batra’s darknmillenarianism sells because it reflectsnthe growing public suspicion that financialnirresponsibility is rampant. Thenpublic thinks the economic end is nearnbecause its sense of morality has beennoutraged by a society dedicated to livingnon nothing a day. (The phrase isnThackeray’s, and it comes from VanitynFair, where it signifies living on a creditnline as big as Uncle Sam’s $500 billionntwin deficits. That’s why the public isnreading less about Soviet PremiernGorbachev and more on U.S. realnestate wheeler-dealer Donald Trump.)nNever have so many owed so muchnto so few. Widespread debt coexistsnwith an incredible increase in the concentrationnof wealth. Wall Street Journalnchief economist Alfred Malabrentargets the concentration of wealth as anroot cause of our national wish to liventhe high life on nothing a day. Twentynpercent of the population now controlsn44 percent of total personal income,nchoking aggregate demand and perhapsnforcing the U.S. into stagflationnfirst and depression second. Meanwhile,nthe rest of the population bor­nnnrows insatiably to keep pace with TVtoutednimages of the rich and supernrich. And opinion polls continue tonshow that the public wants more governmentnspending, a balanced budget,nand no tax increases. No wonder UnclenSam is a deadbeat!nIn 1987 the U.S. got three sharpnwarnings that its economic imbalancesnmake it highly vulnerable to financialnpanic. The dollar’s slide, an early interestnrate spike, and the stock marketncrash were all saying that greed mustnstop and the deficits come down. Butnpoliticians failed to seize any of thesenopportunities for an aggressive assaultnon the budget overrun. The governmentnhas reached a stalemate in itsnefforts to achieve fiscal stability.nGramm-Rudman never took effect; insteadna combination of smoke andnmirrors allowed big government tonspend as much as it cut. Meanwhilenstocks crashed and a Japanese artndealer paid the highest paintingnprice ever—$53.9 million — for VannGogh’s Irises. The connection betweennthose two economic recordnbreakers is just what has made Batra’snThe Great Depression of 1990 a bestseller.nNo individual and no nation cannlive on nothing a day forever.nThe trouble starts at school, specificallynthe Harvard Business School,naccording to J. Paul Mark’s The EmpirenBuilders. This inside expose triesnto do for the B School what ex-nAUGUST 1988 / 29n