The Great Recession was caused by, I believe we are all agreed, two or three decades of unleashed and unregulated ambition -- that desire, on the part of a certain personality type, to get the most that could be gotten.
The curious question is what happens now to that sort of rapacious desire and to those kind of Sammy Glick personalities in this new, earnest, cautionary, and reform-minded, age.
The Carlyle Group, the Times reports, will pay $20 million "and make broad changes to its practices" to settle pay-to-play accusations by the New York attorney general. This presumably means that, not only will the Sammy Glick-types at Carlyle no longer bribe lesser Sammy Glick-types who might influence the direction of state-supervised pension funds, but that Carlyle will in some more profound sense, as the Times says, shift its ways.
It is hard to imagine what that shift might involve -- lower rates of return? Upper-middle-class, rather than baronial, compensation packages? Shabby offices? Even a kind of throwing off of the monkey of ambition itself? Carlyle becomes a reticent, cautious, conservative, lackluster, little firm of unglamorous green-visor types? I think that might be close to the romantic view of the new reformers -- repress the Id of ambition.
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