In about 100 instances in history a man comes along who can manage the lives of many millions of people simply using the gray matter between his ears.
Studying this for the last 40 years and owning the objects that relate to these men and the men who have failed miserably trying to follow and imitate them has been riveting.
It is hard to compare the greats because what they have done is so staggering. Certainly Napoleon, Stalin, Mao and Hitler completely dominated their worlds for a long time but in the end it was only Mao that was able to leave behind a society that prospered after his passing. France, Russia and Germany fell into ruin after their leaders left the stage while China has moved from one great accomplishment to the next with followers who have been able to manage their massive populations and challenges.
The three great managers of systems of the United States in the last 50 years have been Sandy Weill at Citibank and Hank Greenberg at AIG and Bill Clinton. The first two built massive financial empires keeping the whole construct in their heads and leading with a towering sense of purpose that mowed down everyone in their paths until one jackass came along.
But when Weill left Charles Prince behind him, Citibank failed. And when Eliot Spitzer, driven by a personal vendetta with the Greenberg family going back 60 years, snatched Maurice Greenberg out of AIG, the country was plunged into a depression because the people that followed him had no idea of what Greenberg had left behind. And, if even if they did understand it, they did not have the skills to manage the intricate day to day manipulations of the game that they were suddenly put in charge of. And they certainly did not have the force of will to create their own laws to suit their needs which was one of the hallmark skills of both Weill and Greenberg.
There is NO question that if Hank Maurice Greenberg had not been ripped out of his position by a power mad lunatic bent on avenging the imagined personal family insults of three generations, that AIG would not have failed. Greenberg never would have never pursued the leveraging of insurance of debt to the extent of his followers and if he had, he would have found a way out of it when it came time to pay. He would have used the courts and his personal will to have stalled payment of the obligations that bankrupted the United States. Everything would have been just fine and reasonable deals would have been made to insure survival of everyone involved in these GAMES. And that is all they they were until incompetents took their place. These GAMES that did no good for the people of the United States. They were just GAMES until the weak minded people who replaced Greenberg and Weill were put in charge. Then they became OBLIGATIONS.
The people that faced the complications of AIG were a Dartmouth lineman football player with no idea of what he was facing, a tax cheat and an academic. They had NO idea of what was involved or how to use force of mind to hold everything together.
They all just caved into the outrageous demands of the people that had bought insurance for their debt - an absolutely ridiculous idea that never should have been allowed by the United States government. Insuring debt ruins forcing bankers to analyze credit worthiness. It rots them, makes them lazy. It was a game invented by a small group of PLAYERS who had left the stage long after it careened out of control.
Hank Paulson's recent public relations promotion to clear himself with the airing of "Too Big To Fail", demonstrates that he still does not understand that personal force of will and massive brain power is what holds staggeringly complicated organizations together. Hank was a good lineman, team player and environmentalist but to this day he still does not understand what really happened. Linemen dont understand bluffing and bluster. They just push back.
The reason that our country failed is that Eliot Spitzer pushed out the only two people that really had the skills to hold our country's financial systems together. - Sandy Weill and Hank Greenberg. What is amazing is that the intricacies of even the tiniest details were all in their heads. Somehow their ganglia fired in such a way that this was possible and that millions of people could thrive without these silly games ruining their lives.
But when they were forcibly pulled from the stage, the construct collapsed. The people that followed them had no idea that all they were defending was a game that had nothing to do with the welfare of the people of the United States. They were bluffed and tricked by people who never expected to have been paid to the extent that they were.