Sunday, January 3, 2010 | Categories: Episodes
John Maynard Keynes: Man of the Year 2009
If there was a story that dominated 2009 it was the one that began arguably much earlier. In October of 2008 the world economy imploded. A series of bad decisions, everything from the price of housing in the United States to the arcane mathematical science of risk calculation combined to create a financial meltdown and the world's biggest economic downturn since the great depression of the 1930s.
As the world struggled to both understand what had gone so dramatically wrong and simultaneously figure a way out of the mess, the ideas of one man cried out to be attended to once again.
If someone can be said to be responsible for pulling the world economic system out of the cataclysm that we now call the dirty 30s as well as setting the ground for decades of global prosperity it was John Maynard Keynes. The British aesthete and defender of the bourgeoisie was a world acclaimed student of economics, patron of the arts, successful investor and peripatetic thinker. For nearly four decades his thoughts, theories and observations on the way the world worked shocked, stimulated and provoked bankers, politicians and philosophers of all stripes.
But by the late 1970s John Maynard Keynes had gone out of fashion and the structure and functioning of the world economy had set on a new path, one rooted in the ideas of Milton Friedman and his cohorts at the University of Chicago and championed by political giants such as Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher.
But the collapse of 2008 put paid to the revolution of the 1980s and the struggle for new thinking was underway. Once again, the thinker who had denounced the love of money and famously quipped, "In the long run we are all dead" was enjoying a resurgence in popularity.
The Sunday Edition's "Person of the Year"
It is never easy picking a person of the year. But when the election of the first Black President of the United States had become yesterday's news and the struggle over climate change boils down to a question of economic wherewithal, and anger at bankers and financiers is unabated while unemployment remains high and worries about just how healthy the economy really is threatens to be the question going into 2010, The Sunday Edition concluded there was only one real choice.
And our decision that John Maynard Keynes was the man of the year for 2009 is one Robert Skidelsky might well agree with. Lord Skidelsky is an award winning economic historian and biographer. His magisterial 3-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes was feted world wide, including winning the Lionel Gelber prize. His latest book is Keynes: The Return of the Master. For the show, Robert Skidelsky was in our New York Studios.
Song: Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: The Beginning Of Survival
Song: Groove Yard
Artist: Jazz Quintet
Album: East West
Listen to Hour One:
Song: Adventures Of Robin Hood
Artist: Carl Sigman
Album: 1956: A Time to Remember, 20 Original Chart Hits
Robin Hood, the Original Renaissance Man
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography contains over 57 thousand biographies of notable figures from British history. Somewhere midway through the his, you will find this entry: Hood, Robin, legendary outlaw hero.
Not bad for someone who quite possibly never existed. And who, as it turns out, is not even terribly British anymore.
Robin Hood has been around for more than 700 years. And he's always been a man of his time. Most of us think of him as the swashbuckling knave swinging through the trees of Sherwood Forest with his Merry Men, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor. Though apparently it's just as likely he just stole from the rich and kept the money. Depending on who you talk to, he's Jesus, Buddha, Santa Claus, Jesse James, or most recently, Barack Obama. Robin Hood is the original renaissance man.
And once Hollywood got its hands on him, all bets were off. Everyone from Erroll Flynn to Mel Brooks to Bugs Bunny have had their way with him. there is yet another Robin Hood movie due out next year. And there is even an International Association for Robin Hood Studies. Robin Hood is a popular now as he has ever been.
This comes as no surprise to Stephen Knight. He is distinguished research professor in English literature at the University of Wales and the author of Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography. He joined Michael from Cardiff for the show.
Song: Robin Hood
Artist: Keely Smith
Album: Swing, Swing, Swing
Robin Hood, The Legend Continues -- An Interview with Risa Shuman
And no tribute to Robin Hood would be complete without an appearance by our own Maid Marian of the Movies, Risa Shuman.
Song: Adventures of Robin Hood
Artist: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Album: Warner Brothers - 75 Years of Film Music Soundtrack
Listen to Hour Two:
Weaving Together the Tale of E.B. White
We dedicated the full third hour to profile another of Michael Enright's heroes... but this one's real---the writer and essayist E.B. White.
He wrote some of the most beguiling children's books ever, including Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little.
White was a mainstay of The New Yorker magazine almost from its first issue in 1925. He was a master of the essay and of letter writing. He lived in an age when people wrote letters, not e-mails, and they are a joy to read.
His grandaughter Martha White has revised his letters and the result is an engrossing history of much of 20th Century America as seen by one of its most astute observers.
Listen to Hour Three: