Monday, November 9, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs IX

Goldman Sachs executives are sounding more and more like televangelists who say things like "We are doing the work of the ministry. 'Give and it shall be given unto you.' By giving to this telecast you will receive a blessing in due season."

Isn't it funny that giving to televangelists is immediate while receiving for givers is delayed? Often times those who receive rarely give to the givers. Televangelists have done well in this regard, investing in their personal wealth. Many churches have become businesses and use Wall Street as a model. Wall Street executives are now taking their lead from televangelists.

A few weeks ago Brian Griffiths, a Goldman Sachs international adviser, said "We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all...'To whom much is given much is required.'" Now, Times Online reports that Goldman Sachs' Chairman and CEO, Lloyd C. Blankfein, said that he was doing "God's work." Oh, really? Methinks they're all prosyletizing Pharisees.

Here are the words of Jesus Christ:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are."

--Matthew 23:15

Many televangelists proselytize all over the world converting people to Christianity but have made them by far worse then they were. (When people convert they are usually looking for a better way of existing.) The new converts follow the bad pracitices of ministers under the guise of Christianity, perverting the message of Jesus.

Goldman Sachs invests all over the world using the beauty of a free market democratic system. But the market needs ethics. Through their practices they have indebted the world, perhaps making some by far worse than they were in the long run. The same kind of practices are then perpetuated by the debtors under the guise of a free market system, even if democracy isn't embraced. Inextricably bound to the highest form of democracy are justice and fairness.

All progression is not necessarily progress and all deliverance is not necessarily salvation.

(By the way, the Times Online article above is a must read. It looks at all sides fairly and is very enlightening.)


Dave Wheeler said...

Auntie "J",

What a coincidence...Jesus Christ were the words I muttered after reading the comments of these folks. Well, maybe there was an "H" added in their somewhere...

""We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth." Really? One has to wonder who gets the wealth that is created. I know who ain't getting it for sure.

"Just a banker doing God's work"...ego and arrogance. Didn't this contribute to the problem in the first place?

The Times article was interesting...and irritating!

Anonymous said...

So if God's delays are not God's denials, will Lloyd be deferring this year's bonus payment as an act of faith that his talents will be returned to him many times over in 2010? Yeah... I didn't think so either.

Great post Judith.

Judith Ellis said...

Dave - Many of these guys have lived in this alternative universe for so long that they actually believe what they're saying. It's delusional. Many have committed crimes and they are not even charged and admit to wrongdoing. If that were you or I we'd be thrown into jail; we wouldn't even get a plea bargin, let alone not admitting guilt.

Arianna Huffington wrote an excellent post today: "Why its Wrong When Wrongdoers Are Allowed to Admit No Wrongdoing." She writes:

"If you commit a petty crime and hammer out a plea bargain, you'll have to admit wrongdoing as part of the agreement. But put on a suit and commit a billion dollar crime and you won't even have to admit you did anything wrong. It'll be as if it never happened. Which, of course, makes it much more likely that it will happen again."

With the loop holes and tax shelters, I'd like to know if they're indeed paying their portion of taxes or if it is indeed as Leona Helmsley said: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes."

Judith Ellis said...

Great question, David!

Bob Foster said...

Judith - I read the article, and words escape me (very unusual). Perhaps Noel Coward explained it best when he said:

"The higher the buildings, the lower the morals."

Thanks for the post--it was great!

Judith Ellis said...

Bob - It's pretty unbelievable, eh? But the American people can't complain if we don't organize and demand differently. These Wall Street banks are "moral hazards" by definition:

"Moral hazard is the fact that a party insulated from risk may behave differently from the way it would behave if it would be fully exposed to the risk. In insurance, moral hazard that occurs without conscious or malicious action is called morale hazard...Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its doings, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it alternately would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions."

Big government seems aligned with big business to the detriment of the people. But we must not let these banks off the hook. We must fight like HELL for reform and turn out all Congress members who align with big banks AGAINST our interest no matter the political party. Money has no political affiliation in Washington or anywhere for that matter. People can be bought out for a few "pieces of silver."

By the way, I can relate to the feeling you had reading the article. I had the same feeling initially. I sat on this article before publishing it. I took one angle of the gazillion others to take. There were so many issues, so many foul things, including global government corruption.

Arianna's article addresses the fact that these Wall Street bank executives think that if they don't admit to wrongdoing, essentially the deed was not done and they go right on doing other wrongdoings with greater risk. Just think of how the bailout number jumped from $150 BILLION during the SNL scandal to nearly $800 BILLION now. The system sanctions this behavior. But the system has to change. This is our time to do it and we must!

zorro said...

Someone's working on it -

But will Republicans let it pass?
We've got to quit dumping all over the Democrats - the mess we are in is Congress's fault to some extent, but they are also the only ones who can fix it. And the only ones who have any chance of doing whats right are Democrats.
Also, things got this way because we all became to obsessed with making lots of money.
It became hip to brag about how many hours your worked, (the more you wprked, the more you had reason to brag)
A generation ago, people would be bragging about the exact opposite.

Judith Ellis said...

Zorro - I appreciate your thoughtful response and the call for the need of rational responses that Congress enacts. However, I also think that there is a place a for anger and that it we ourselves who need to become active participants in our democracy.

We need to insist that those we elect to Congress work on our behalf. I am a huge advocate of term limits. There should be NO career politicians. I found it completely contemptible that Bloomberg got around the law and ran for a third term. There are term limits in NYC. I also fear that he had more than a few politicians--dare I say Court officials?--in his back pocket, not to mention the $100 million of his own money he spent to "buy" the election.

I disagree, with your assessment that only Democrats can bring the needed change. I am thinking of more than a dozen Democrats at this moment that I would like to see retire as well as many Republicans.

zorro said...

"I disagree, with your assessment that only Democrats can bring the needed change."

Which Republicans?

Judith Ellis said...

Zorro - I was speaking in general terms. But we need to hear from others in Congress besides those who head committees or who are senior members on both sides. But I guess this won't happen as these things are privileges. Congress is like a club. On the Republican side, I like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Darrell Issa, not that I agree with them on all points. But that's not unusual at all. :-) There are many member of the House and some in the Senate that I have no idea whatsoever who they are. I want to hear from these. Haven't read the link yet but I will. Thanks for that.

zorro said...

I like Richard Lugar.
Along with the ones you mentioned.

zorro said...

Here is a PBS Fronline show on healthcare. I think is shows how stupid the debate is in this country. Its not about private/public. Its about doing what works. Its an hour.

Bob Foster said...

Judith – I think our whole political mess was best summed up by broadcast journalist Chet Huntley, around the time he retired, when he said:

“I used to believe the government was the answer to all our problems. But the…government, I’ve concluded, is now an insufferable jungle of self-serving bureaucrats.”

Our country is being run from K street where the minions of big business plot their strategies. It doesn’t matter which party is in power as long as Washington is run like a gigantic “club.” Until there is term limits, and realistic campaign finance reform, it will do little good to vote out the old and vote in the new, since it is all about the money (and self-serving bureaucrats).

I’m doing some research about campaign costs and hope to have a post up with the results in a day or two. I think it will be an eye-opener.

Great discussion Judith; keep up the good work.

Judith Ellis said...

Zorro - I just read the names set to regulate the banks in the article you recommended above. The names of Dodd (D), Shelby (R) and Geithner (former NY Fed) are quite unimpressive to me. These guys headed committees and were in positions that should have avoided this financial disaster and didn't.

They were tasked to protect the American people's interest and didn't. Dodd got a house out of the deal. Both of the Dodd and Shelby should have been made to step down from their committees and the people should not send them back to Washington. Instead, they probably will still protect Wall Street banks and AIG where Goldman Sachs hedged some $20 billion.

Goldman Sachs got way with more than the multiple billions in bailout since WE gave AIG $90 billion. Nobody has gone to jail or even admitted wrongdoing as Arianna noted. Dodd (Chairman) and Shelby (Ranking Member) were over the powerful Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and they watched this disaster happen, yet they are now tasked to solve it.

I am UTTERLY unimpressed with all of the above and fear that NOTHING will actually be done. Dodd was looked into for ethics charges with Fannie Mae and the Senate did not choose to investigate further. He's a club member. It has been reported numerous of times that Geithner had been very chummy with the most powerful CEOs of Wall Street banks and AIG, not to mention that Henry Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs CEO was the Treasury Secretary.

Dodd, Shelby and Geithner are ALL unimpressive and perhaps Dodd should have been investigated. It looks very fishy to me. None of these appear honest to me in the very least and none appear to have our best interest at heart. Thus, I have little faith that they will do what they have been tasked to do for the American people.

Thanks, Zorro, for the Frontline link. I'll look at it and probably write something later.

Judith Ellis said...

Bob - We are the government! This is the problem. We have to be pragmatic and participate in our representative democracy. Our elected officials and big business count on us not participating and demanding pragmatism. Words matter, actions too. "Faith without works is dead" and "hope deferred makes the heart sick."

I look forward to your upcoming post, Bob. I read your blog regularly and so appreciate your focus on small business. Thanks as always for that. I am always happy when you have been here. You are thoughtful and your compassion for community causes is so appreciated. Know this.

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, and, Zorro, I like Richard Lugar too.

zorro said...

"Dodd (Chairman) and Shelby (Ranking Member) were over the powerful Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and they watched this disaster happen, yet they are now tasked to solve it."

Nothing's going to change that except the loss of the Senate to the Republicans. It doesn't mean Dodds ideas now are no good. Dodd and Barney Frank are names that are brought up who pushed Sub Prime loans. They wanted to give the oportunity to to let lower income people get home loans. At one point 75% of all home morgages were sub prime. (Dodd pointed that out today)As I see it, part of the problem has to do with pushing home ownership. Part of it has to to with deregulating banking and credit default swaps. I think the root of the problem is our consuption culture and our worship of wealth - we'd rather consume than build infrastructure, so we don't believe in taxes.
The only thing I saw about Dodd and scandal was that he recieved a low interest rate on a morgage.
Overall, I guess I'm optomistic about banking reform with the Democrats in power. I know nothing good would get done with the Republicans in power.
As a country, we should be less about getting angry and the people who benifited from the crisis and think about what is wrong with the way we approach problems.
The FrontLine documentary illustrates how much better other contries are at solving problems than we are.

Judith Ellis said...

"As a country, we should be less about getting angry and the people who benifited from the crisis and think about what is wrong with the way we approach problems."

Zorro - I do think that one can be angry and rational. Your statement above implies that this is not possible. But I can relate to your call for calm. After reading your rather level thinking for some time now, you do not appear to be over the top and rather methodical in thought. I appreciate this.

Regarding Dodd, I do believe that there were some other shady dealings with Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac. But I could be mistaken. Let me ask you this: If a pilot crashed a plane and survived, would you want to board a plan with him ever again?

Dodd and Shelby were over a very important committee during this disaster and all three areas(banking, housing and urban affairs) are in such bad shape. What have they been doing?
If they were in the private sector, they would not have their jobs. Government tends to insulate.

By the way, I've had a rather busy day, but I should get to that Frontline interview tonight. Thanks again.

Judith Ellis said...

"As I see it, part of the problem has to do with pushing home ownership. Part of it has to to with deregulating banking and credit default swaps. I think the root of the problem is our consuption culture and our worship of wealth - we'd rather consume than build infrastructure, so we don't believe in taxes."

I agree with this, Zorro. But if the banks would not have given the loan, the homeowner could not have purchased the home. The problem is that they understood well that these loans were backed by the government and this allowed for the kind of hedging that even Buffett engaged in, not to mention Goldman Sachs. I also agree with you about our focus on wealth or worshipping of it. I guess there is nothing new there, really. Cultures have done this globally for eons. Have they not?

Judith Ellis said...

Zorro - Loved the preventative approach of the NHS and the financial benefits of the doctors whose patients are the healthest. That's a form of competition, no? That's very different here the managment of sickness in many cases seems to be the focus. There is more money in sick patients than well ones. But I must say that the obese doctor in the video gave me reason for pause. Personally, I would be willing to pay more taxes if it meant that more American would be covered. I would also like to see us focus on preventive care.

zorro said...

There is more there about other countries, but you need to fool around with the interface that presents the video a bit.
What I found intereseting is the NHS system has evolved - it has become more competitive and more effiecient over time. But there is also a segment on the Swiss, the Japanese, the German and the Taiwinese systems. The commont thread though all the systems is they remove profit. Some are all government, some are all non-profit private, some are a mixture.
Also, where is the CNN and MSNBC documentary on these systems? They surely have the time.

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, cool, Zorro! I'll check those out too. Great question. I think many networks are more concerned in this era of blogs to give opinion as opposed to indepth reporting. I could care less about their opinions unless it's in the form of Andy Rooney's segment on "60 Minutes" where it is obvious what is reporting and what is opinion. The lines are not clear to many viewing news networks today. Ted Turner said recently that CNN needed to get back to the business of reporting new. I agree! We are definitely not the better for this change.