In Forbes Magazine of March 15, 2010 on page 15, the column for “Current Events” is titled The Sickness of the West.
In this full-page column, the author claims that the world is groaning beneath a mountain of debt, and to get out of it, we must trust those that lead us. But we don’t trust them, with good reason.
At the very top we have a sad bunch of flawed mediocrities.
- President Barack Obama. To quote Benjamin Disraeli, “A sophisticated rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity.” If only he would talk less, and think more.
- Chancellor Angela Merkel. A well-meaning hausfrau with the steely will of a dishcloth.
- President Nicolas Sarkozy. An operator who is clever at everything except what matters most.
- Prime Minister Gordon Brown. A machine politician whose own machinery is visibly breaking down.
- Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. A splendid advertisement for Viagra, a man whose antics would have afforded us much amusement in a time of normal prosperity.
The collapse in leadership is a serious matter, made worse by the fact that none of the main central bank chairmen is well known, liked or trusted.
This column is written by Paul Johnson.
Who is Paul Johnson, who has the audacity to not just criticize, but denigrate the leaders of five of the largest economies in the world?
The byline, at the very bottom of the article reads:
Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author.
Ah, he’s an author. Well, that gives him the qualifications. He is eminent? He is so significant, well known, trusted and liked that I had no idea who he was, never heard of him, and if he wrote columns in Forbes before, they were so striking that I have no recollection of them or his name.
I am weary of people who have to put titles behind their names to make themselves look important. I am also weary of people who have to be introduced with the byline of “eminent” by the magazine so they can justify them being there.
If his name was not Paul Johnson, but rather something like Sir Paul Pompousness, Esq. it would speak for itself and it would work better.
Forbes Magazine, once a vibrant source if information, is now a thin leaflet of 80 pages, 43 of which are full-page advertisements, and one of which is Paul Johnson’s column.
Is Forbes going under?