I am reading Jason Manolopoulos’s Greece’s Odious Debt – an accessible successor to Mark Mazower – and one that reminds you that attitudes to things like tax collectors depend on history. (In Greece for instance Manolopolulos argues that under Ottoman rule not paying taxes – essentially poll taxes on Christians was highly honorable. This still influences Greek tradition.)
Chapter Two however starts with one of the best quotes I have ever seen:
To be successful, keep looking tanned, live in an elegant building (even if you’re in the cellar), be seen in smart restaurants (even if you nurse one drink) and if you borrow, borrow big.
Seldom have I seen a business/political philosophy so diametrically opposed to mine stated so clearly. And exemplars abound – think Angelo Mozilo in American finance or Andrew Peacock in Australian politics.
Just a fabulous quote and a world view that seems to work for the people who hold it if not for the rest of us…
Photo: Wikimedia Commons