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Mayer, who has written on The Bankers, The Lawyers and The New Breed on Wall Street now comes up with his State of the Nation message. What it turns out to be is another of the currently fashionable repudiations of The Sixties, the time when all those deluded liberals were running around spending money on poverty programs, trying to equalize educational opportunities, control air pollution and, so Mayer charges, planning for the future on the basis of the past. The key element overlooked by government, business and education policy-making was the extraordinarily high birth rate of the years 1946-56; our current economic dislocations are, he suggests, largely a result of all those extra people who need jobs, housing and services. Since births are now declining, things should get better; the pessimism of the '70's is as ""vulgar"" as the optimism of the '60's. Mayer believes in the technological imperative: ""in the end the computer will save us."" Though the government can help restore homeostasis by jiggling the tax structure, it fails when it tries to ""make water run uphill."" Mayer is not Harry Browne but he believes in ""greed"" as the prime mover of society; ""the virtue of it is that greeds are fundamentally commensurate . . . greed itself is best controlled by countervailing greed."" Of course this means that you can forget about laws which seek to fundamentally restructure society; they won't work. A little more intelligence, charity and honesty, maybe, but basically ""I have no vision of the Just Society."" From now on, blacks and other disadvantaged groups will have to grin and bear it. ""Natural stabilizers, like competition in the market, can be cruel to the weak."" Tant pis. Selfishness makes the world go round, and so it should. One thing you can say about Mayer, he's an accurate gauge of the way the wind is blowing.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row