I’m about to finish Alan Greenspan’s book, The Age of Turbulence.

The pivotal moment in the book is about halfway through when he declares that he had decided to add economic growth to the Fed’s responsibilities.

It was at that point that he jettisoned once and for all whatever tenuous threads that remained of his free-market principles.  He’d already come a long way in convincing himself that he remained a libertarian and a believer that central planning was doomed to failure, even while he attempted central planning via control of interest rates and the money supply on an unimaginable scale.

The book shows that he is a) clearly enamored of his own intelligence and ability, and b) tragically addicted to power, prestige, perqs and rubbing shoulders with the famous and fabulously wealthy.  These failings were his — and our nation’s, as now seems evident — downfall.

It’s an interesting thing to read Greenspan’s thoughts and realize he still truly believes he’s a worthy acolyte of Ayn Rand, and is completely ignorant of the reality that he wound up becoming exactly what he’d always excoriated.  I wonder if even now (the book was written before the horrendous crash of his real estate bubble) he hasn’t managed to convince himself that the colossal failures he alone owns are actually the province of somebody else, as he did with all his more minor failings covered in his book.

What’s interesting is that, while he clearly believes himself a towering intellect, I knew 90% of what he wrote merely because I keep up with politics and read The Economist for some years during the time covered by this book.  I’m no genius.  Greenspan is smart, yes — but having completely missed the message of Leonard Read’s I, Pencil, he also clearly misses that his intellect really isn’t all that earth-shattering, and certainly doesn’t allow him to understand everything it takes to make a pencil any more than anyone else.

It’s a shame we’ve allowed our once limited government to metastasize into the Leviathan it now is.  Greenspan is a product of what we’ve let slip away — an overpaid, overfed failure who’s brought us ruin instead of the riches he promised.  He and Barack Obama must get on famously.