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One-upping Gordon Gekko…

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“The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

-via Profit `Not Satanic,’ Barclays Says, After Goldman Invokes Jesus – Bloomberg.com.

The ever-incisive Matt Taibbi ponders this pontification:  “I didn’t believe this story was true at first — thought it had to be a spoof. But it turns out to be true. The great banks of the world have gone on a p.r. counteroffensive in Europe, and are sending spokescrooks in shiny suits into churches to persuade the masses that Christ would have approved of the latest round of obscene bonuses.”

Taibbi’s piece, which explores how it is that someone could reach this kind of conclusion (spoiler alert:  it’s to do with a self-interested understanding of “free market” ideology) is well worth reading in full.  Here, let me just reprise his all-too-apt conclusion:

There are lots of different varieties of evil in the world. On the extreme end of the spectrum you’ve probably got your Ted Bundy-at-Lake-Sammamish brand of evil, torturers and such, people who actually take pleasure in the suffering of others. You look at people like that and they defy rational explanation; you have to just chalk that up to the universe basically being a horrifying place where there’s either no God at at all or a God who’s just incompetent and/or explaining himself really, really badly.

On the other end of the spectrum, not nearly as evil comparably but still pretty bad, are people like this clown from Goldman. They lie to themselves and think up elaborate reasons to do the bad acts they were already hoping to do anyway. Some day, when historians finish peeling back all the different onion-layers of this financial disaster we’re living out right now, they’re going to find at the heart of it all this social Darwinist mantra wherein a very small group of overeducated twerps agreed to believe that stealing every last dime they could get their hands on was something other than what it looks and sounds like to the rest of us. That protective delusion was the first of the many luxuries they bought with all the money they stole, and see if it isn’t the last they agree to give up. What a bunch of assholes!

By way of context, research company TNS reports that “around half of American, British and German respondents reported that they would not be able to come up with $2,000 in 30 days from savings, borrowing, friends or family” if faced with an emergency…  and then there’s the real poverty in the world that we can and must more aggressively address.

As we recover our composure, we might recall that it was on this date in 1789 that Benjamin Franklin remarked, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  (In fact the first recorded utterance of that sentiment in English was by Daniel Defoe in The Political History of the Devil, 1726: “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed”…  before that [pace Goldman] there was Jesus:  “render unto Caesar…”  One wonders what the front-runners and mortgage pushers at the top of the financial heap will make of that…)

Uncle Ben

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