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At Last, Some Decency on Wall Street

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Posted on Mar 14, 2012
AP / Mark Lennihan

Passersby look up at the Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York.

By Robert Scheer

By the time you read this, the PR hacks of Goldman Sachs will be vigorously pressing their efforts to destroy the reputation of whistle-blower Greg Smith, a former Goldman executive director whose exposé in Wednesday’s New York Times Op-Ed page was so devastating that the 143-year-old firm might actually, finally, be held accountable.

Smith, a wunderkind who spent the 12 years after he graduated from Stanford University rising through the ranks at Goldman, has revealed the firm’s culture to be so fundamentally venal that were financial industry shenanigans not generally exempt from effective legal regulation, Goldman’s executives could have been rounded up Wednesday morning on organized-crime charges.

The law that exempted what would have been illegal trading in the murky derivatives that the Smith article denounced was the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, enthusiastically signed by Bill Clinton in the waning months of his administration. The legislation shielded from any regulatory law the very activities that led to the financial meltdown from which Americans are still reeling.

Back in the Clinton era, it fell to the president’s last press secretary, Jake Siewert, to justify the freeing of Wall Street investment houses to do their worst, and in one of those delicious ironies Siewert was appointed as a managing director and the global head of corporate communications for Goldman Sachs the day before the devastating Smith exposé broke.

Who better to hastily concoct a strategy of explaining away Goldman’s deceit in the sale of those derivatives? Predictably there was the quickly leaked memo by Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein shooting Smith, the previously highly valued young messenger, as a “disgruntled” employee for daring to describe the culture within Goldman “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

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Smith’s charge about Goldman “routinely ripping their clients off” resonated widely on the Internet because of prior exposures of suspect derivatives deals in which Goldman explicitly bet against the products it was selling. Slightly less than two years ago the Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against Goldman that resulted in a $550 million fine over such double-dealing.

But what is so damning in Wednesday’s article is Smith’s insistence that the culture of Goldman has only gotten worse since then: “Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.”

In addition to heading Goldman’s equity derivatives trading in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Smith was involved in recruiting new talent for the company. It was his supervision over recruits being exposed to the increasingly corrupt Goldman culture—amid routine reference to clients as “muppets” and chortling about “ripping eyeballs out”—that finally turned him off.

At the heart of the rot were those derivatives, the collateralized debt obligations (CDO) and credit default swaps (CDS) that were made legal by the legislation Clinton signed and Siewert defended. In his piece, Smith referred to the selling of those designed-to-be-toxic products as the essential avenue of Goldman’s greed, saying you “find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.”

Contrast Smith, who announced his resignation from Goldman in the Op-Ed article, and Siewert, who has just joined up with the greed merchants after working in the administration that made that greed legal. Clearly, people like Siewert, comfortable in the Washington-Wall Street axis, have no sense of shame. They know all too well what Goldman and the other financial swindlers have been up to, causing so much misery for tens of millions throughout the world.

After a stint with Alcoa in the private sector, Siewert returned to government as a top aide to President Barack Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who worked in the Clinton Treasury Department before becoming head of the New York Fed. Former Clinton Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs executive Robert Rubin recommended Geithner for that position. In his Fed job, Geithner choreographed the bailout of AIG, which compensated Goldman Sachs for its toxic derivatives. 

Because Siewert is obviously without a moral compass, he can, as have so many in the elite from both parties, move easily without any hesitation through the platinum revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, becoming filthy rich in the process while betraying the public trust. Hail Greg Smith, and thank The New York Times, for his cri de coeur, a rare example that decency is not always for sale.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By Gallogarden, March 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Re: Mensch Guy:
I enjoyed your grasp of the mess our country is in, and agree that a military or
violent overthrow would not be successful.  I recently found this article to be
inspiring:

http://www.alternet.org/story/153929/how_swedes_and_norwegians_broke_th
e_power_of_the_’1_percent’?page=entire

Both Norway and Sweden found themselves in very similar situations to ours, in
the early 1900’s.  They managed to non violently bring democracy and
economic justice back to their countries by wresting control from the 1%, and
the corporations they ran. 

Admittedly not a quick fix, I believe it took each country something like 30
years, but they are solvent and have a just and democratic society all these
years later.  There is hope for us, if we stand together, work together, and
support one another.  Using some of their successful ideas we can effect
change here.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, March 22, 2012 at 1:24 am Link to this comment

MG: calling for a militant revolution is not going to solve any problem.

In fact, I agree with you.

Militate = to have a substantial effect; weigh heavily for/against something.

The morphing of militate into military is a modern convention. The word “militer” in French is employed when wanting to get people to campaign for a proposition or against an injustice.

It means to gather together to protest.

Admittedly, I should use the English version more prudently.

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By Dave H, March 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Bob is right to rail against derivatives but credit default swaps(CDS) actually ripped off the sellers, not the buyers.  When CDOs (baskets of mortgage-backed securities)tanked, the sellers of CDS (basically insurance policies on mortgage defaults) were on the hook for the losses.  Read Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short,” to see how a few individuals early on recognized the rot inherent in CDOs and bought a boatload of credit default swaps, making a fortune when the mortgage market tanked.  AIG sold so many CDS that the company had to be rescued by the U.S. government.

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By MenschGuy, March 18, 2012 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

Mr. Lafayette,
with all due respect, replying to you as a military
veteran, one who is actively engaged in politics, who
resides in the D.C. area, who does the research,knows
some of the lobbyists, knows those in Finance, has
multiple church and synagogue social contacts (but am
a buddhist), who has worked in some of America’s
poorest areas and also for some of America’s most
wealthiest (like the Marriotts), who was part of the
aero-space military/commercial complex/industry, who
has relatives who are bio-engineers in the mid-west,
and some who are in federal government—the “nameless
bureaucrats” who are officers,engineers, foreign
service, have friends who are curators, and relatives
in the medical industry…let me tell you something
if you well allow it:  calling for a militant
revolution is not going to solve any problem. Whether
you like it or not, the two party system is what we
have, though Citizens Elect has a viable plan to keep
moderates on state ballots—the moderates the
extremists in both parties push out because they
don’t follow the ideological purity demanded by the
base. The problem we as a nation have is that the
general population does not want to take the effort
to know all the facts, wanting instead to listen to
only what it wants to, facing only what it chooses
to, and talking only to those it desires to and then
go out and vote for those who stroke one’s particular
ideological belief with the accompanying skewed and
fanciful opinion about who to blame. It is the likes
of R. Limbaugh who mixes opinion with selective facts
or outright false hoods who rouse part of the
populace to demand some kind of militant revolution,
and, on the other side, there are also liberals who
are guilty of just the same—inflaming the hearts and
souls of their followers to take up arms and go out
and fight for their beliefs and opinions. The fact is
this: there are a lot of very smart people in this
country, but they are disgusted with the
obnoxiousness and callowness of those who call for
militant revolution: the very same type of people who
now dominate both party bases.A third party is not an
option. The long road of an educated populace is the
only path we have today. The problems we have today
actually began back in the 40’s and 50’s from places
like Harding U., B. Jones U. and today’s more recent
Regency and Liberty Universities to counter the
“liberal leaning Ivy Leagues”.  Change comes at one’s
local community level, and it comes from being
knowledgeable about reality,as much as being engaged
with as much the world as possible…it does not come
from people, say like Newt Gingrich,(or yourself
Lafayette?) who thinks he is some kind of
Revolutionary War hero and will shape democracy
through strident militant politics. The first thing
that has to occur before Washington will change, is
to alter the role of money in play; from wherever it
comes from, and to have representatives who have
more experience in life than the occupation of being
lawyers so they have a better idea of how the world
operates beyond the legal world and can better
determine what programs are viable to promote and
support and what is but corporate welfare and needs
to be abandoned.

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By Lafayette, March 18, 2012 at 12:45 am Link to this comment

WE, THE SHEEPLE

MG: How more corrupt can America be from those in power?

“Those in power”? They are no more nor any less than a reflection of ourselves.

Who voted people like Bush/Cheney into political power? They simply catered to those who donated the money to get them elected - by selling out the government to the highest bidder. The T-Party was elected in the same manner (by money from mega-buck Plutocrats) and has Occupied the HofR.

We can pass the buck, but what goes around always comes back around to us - we, the sheeple.

Get off you duff and militate to reform America instead of bitching-in-a-blog. America needs Progressive Politicians in Congress. Help them get elected.

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By allen, March 17, 2012 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Goldman isn’t the only institution that has come in for criticism.  Virtually all the major banks have been called out, for sins ranging from rampant robosigning of foreclosure papers to engaging in generally deceptive business practices.

My own bank—its name rhymes with Dells Largo—appears to have taken the disapprobation of the general public to heart.  Whereas two years ago (or even earlier) the employees at the various branches I frequent were generally pleasant and efficient at assisting me transact my business, within the past year or so they have gone absolutely overboard:  from the fellows who open the door for you, welcome you, and in some cases even offer you a bottled water, to the tellers who attempt to engage you in small talk at the window (“How’s your day going so far, Mr. X?”), the bank’s staff bends over backward in an attempt to show you that they value your business, and, more to the point, you as an individual.

Given how recently this sudden solicitude for my well-being and my satisfaction with bank services has appeared, the skeptic in me can only imagine that within the past year a memo went out from corporate instructing bank employees to make their customers feel both welcome and appreciated.  They never showed any particular interest in me before.

To be honest, I almost prefer the old days, when I could enter the bank unmolested, transact my affairs without having to share family pictures and the details of my nascent day with tellers, and depart expeditiously.

All I know is how it used to be, and how it is now.  That this behavior by bank staff has only relatively recently manifested itself leads me to conclude that its appearance in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown and the charges of banks’ malfeasance is hardly coincidental.

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By Ed Romano, March 17, 2012 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

It seems to me that the U.S. holds up one goal to aspire to…and one only. Get as many dollars you can, and if you can’t get leagally…get it any way you can. The hypocrites say that this should be done legally, but they will respect a rich mobster a lot quicker than a poor, honest workman/woman. Since the quest for money is the all American goal it shouldn’t be any surprise what goes on at Goldman Sachs. And, truth be known, it’s exactly what goes on in all the financial houses in one form or another. They are in business to get as many of your dollars into their pockets as possible, while claiming they are in business to help you increase your wealth. If your wealth is increased while dealing with them…that is fortunate. But if they have to choose between your financial well being and their own….it’s goodbye Charlie as far as you’re concerned…If any one believes there is a financial house or bank that exists to serve them ....you probably also believe the political parties exist to serve “the People”.

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By MenschGuy, March 17, 2012 at 6:21 am Link to this comment

AHHHH!!! drbhelthi spoke wondrous poetry in his
commentary here: “Continued Deceit and Propaganda
from the Entrails of the Criminal Beast”! Anyone see
Glen Beck’s Blackboard lecture on how the poor are
destroying America: “The Tree of Revoultion”? It is
amazing what this nation has become!!! Herman Cain
for Pres! he will fix Wall Streets mess. Should we
blame the Right’s problems on Limbaugh’s and
followers sexual frustration with not getting to
watch porn from the Georgetown law student he ranted
on for three days about? How more corrupt can America
be from those in power?

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By Lafayette, March 17, 2012 at 4:30 am Link to this comment

THE KKK

A well-written article by a journalist (David Cay Johnston) who specializes on how our Korporate Kleptocracy Klan (the KKK) feathers its golden nest.

With some very telling info-graphics of how the rich benefit more today than ever in our history: The Richest Get Richer.

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By Lafayette, March 17, 2012 at 12:29 am Link to this comment

CRASS INDIVIDUALISM

Yeah, OK, let’s blame the “venal Goldman Sachs”.

To effing easy, I say. Venality is a common attribute of mankind - men and women, even children. It is demonstrated by people who have no or little exposure to either good sense or morality and far too much susceptiveness to a naked desire for material wealth.

And we must ask ourselves why this happens in our society. What are our traditional values and how are they being taught to our children? Where is our esteem for social fairness and mutual well-being - common ideals to which all citizens might aspire.

Any political philosophy - Marxism, Socialism, Centrism, Liberalism - is simply a veneer laid upon core values. When those values point someone towards the rewards of “success”, when they are adulated in the media for “having made it”, when they are traipsed on talk-shows or front-paged on BusinessWeek or Fortune/Forbes magazines for their unique attribute of “wealth”, then what are we - as a nation - telling ourselves?

That these are our Role Models. Yes, the One-Percenters or the Twenty-Percenters have become our role models. No other criteria matters. NBP (No Bullshit Please) about Fairness or Level Playing Field or Egalitariansim - just “show me da money”.

That simplistic desire to distinguish ourselves from the rabble commoners is what is undoing America. It is a powerful incentive that pushes people to take “short-cuts” to obtain more riches and quicker. It entices them to “cut-corners” that provoked the Sub-Prime Mess and brought our Materialist House of Cards tumbling down around our ears.

And we, the sheeple, full of indignation and disgust, rise from the dust pointing the finger of blame at the “Banksters”. But what were they doing, the banksters? What a lot of people do once seduced by the Siren Song of Exaggerated Wealth. After all, “everybody was doing it, so why not me?”

The culprit today in our society is Crass Individualism of the kind “I’ve got mine and fuck-you!” Aka, Income Disparity and our unwillingness to reduce it by means of high-level Taxation has brought us to this sad end.

MY POINT?

Enjoy the status-quo folks - for as long as we do not get off our duffs and militate politically for a better world in which to live and bring up our children. One where “opportunity” and “solidarity” are just not a key-words bantered about at election time - but the active pursuits of national policy.

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By moonraven, March 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

What narrow escape, Gale?

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By galeww, March 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Greg Smith for your stark assessment of Goldman Sachs.  The moral meltdown on Wall Street sometimes renders me speechless.  Words like corrupt and unethical are too weak but labels like sociopathic and psychopathic ring true.  How else can one explain a culture where a complete absense of conscience is celebrated.  The bubble Wall Street lives in is free of moral concerns.  Like the mafia, they have their own code of honor and if you are not willing to kill for them—you will not be a member of the club.  Contratulations to Mr. Smith on his narrow escape.  I hope he will continue to speak out about his tenure there!

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By moonraven, March 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

B U L L S H I T!

What a cynical article!

You folks are so weak and hard-up for
any picked-clean bones
to be tossed to you
that you go into ecstasy
when some thug who picked YOUR bones
clean now decides to move on
to some other quasi-legal
predatory paradise.

Give me a fucking break here, patsies!

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By Johnny canuck, March 16, 2012 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here in America Jr. the holler-a-dollar radio clowns find ways to trash the messenger
without having read the message. Mark Carney,our Bernanke opposite , is an alum of
GS so that might be a reason. Cheers.

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By MeHere, March 16, 2012 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

The executive’s letter is not a real headache for G. Sachs and others like them. As long as they have politicians behind them, they have nothing to worry about.  This story has been told many times before by previous W. Street insiders and financial reporters.

It would have been more useful (just a tad more) if G. Smith had addressed his concerns to the government and the agencies which are supposedly in charge of financial regulation and overseeing.

The general public is still supporting politics as usual -no problem there.

So, who really benefits from all this?  In a perverted way, it may be Goldman Sachs itself. It will give its executives the chance to rethink the company’s strategies and public image.

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By EmileZ, March 16, 2012 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

@ drbhelthi

I was almost certainly out of line in my previous comment and I apologize for it.

It was something unspecifiable about the first (long) paragraph in relation to the final one.

No biggie.

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By drbhelthi, March 16, 2012 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

@EmileZ, March 16 at 5:23

One does not need to be an academic in order to think logically and have an opinion.  On the other hand, in my experience with a few fellow, academic-types,  I have observed that being an academic-type does not insure logical thinking.  Wall Street is filled with academic-types.

However.  The definition of a non sequitur is pretty clear.  For me.

You did not specify which word or phrase or idea you were relating to.  Also, I am not sure what a “kind of a sort of a pseudo non sequitor” means.  Thus, I can only respond, that whichever word or phrase or idea you were referring to, constitutes for EmileZ a ” kind of a sort of a pseudo non sequitor???”

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By EmileZ, March 16, 2012 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

@ drbhelthi

I am not an academic (and I am sick of people saying “dude, that’s an ad hominem attack”), but isn’t that kind of a sort of a pseudo non sequitor???

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By drbhelthi, March 16, 2012 at 4:01 am Link to this comment

Neat overview and summary !

However.

Considering, that Greg Smith is the person who revealed a well-described view of the entrails of the criminal beast in subject.  Nor did he fit in any of the warped, peg-holes within the criminal beast in subject.  Also, Greg Smith had to divest himself of the criminal beast crew, in order to blow the whistle.  Thus, is it not clear that whatever decency has come forth, did not emerge from the criminal beast, Goldman Sachs? 

Furthermore, parasitic functionaries within the bowels of the criminal beast are attempting a futile hatchet-job on Mr. Greg Smith.  Thus, what about the name of this very neat overview and summary article? 

Would it not be more appropriately titled, “Continued Deceit and Propaganda from the Entrails of the Criminal Beast, Goldman-Sachs” ?

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By EmileZ, March 16, 2012 at 12:42 am Link to this comment

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Goldman Sachs Executive Vice President and CFO David Viniar, Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations hearing, April 27, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_NtV6Rptd4&feature=autoplay&list=PL7BC1B61B480D0805&lf=results_video&index=4&playnext=2

Too bad Levin is such a Nazi, great clip though.

We must find a way to get beyond these public spankings and at least enact some kind of meaningful reform.

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By racetoinfinity, March 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

Siewart is aptly named, imho, as in “of the sewer.”

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By croaky, March 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

I could not have phrased it better.

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By Arabian Sinbad, March 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

What disturbs me most about these so-called whistle-blowing events is that they end up being treated as temporary sensationalist entertainment by the media for a while, but without being followed by any action to punish the wrong-doers or to reform the rotten systems that practice wrong-doing and thrive on it materially.

I am going to withhold my applaud for Greg Smith’s act of whistle-blowing till I see some concrete reform of the system and punishment for the wrong-doers and their enablers. One possible positive outcome of this scandal is for all investors with Goldman Sachs in particular and Wall Street in general to file a class law suit against all culpable, beginning with ex-president Clinton and ending with Obama, and run them out of business and into jails.

Of course, I realize that this is just day-dreaming on my part, and even if things change on the surface, they will remain rotten at the bottom because they are rooted in a political culture based on greed, material power, militarism and lack of moral compass in social-political-economic issues, the much-bragged about superficial democracy-show not withstanding. Short of a radical revolution, the more things change the more they stay the same if they don’t get worse!

At least, thanks to whistle-blowers, for a while we get entertained, voice our frustrations, write few foolish or wise words of lamentation, but continue marching collectively towards the abyss.

And thanks to the likes of Bush, Clinton, Obama, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, the military-industrial complex and Israel, without whom the modern Rome, known as the U.S.A., will not be marching steadily to its logical destruction!  Perhaps then, from the ashes some proverbial mythical phoenix will arise again!

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By ohiolibgal, March 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

It’s just stunning that these execs are profiting big time off/after the bailout instead of fending off Bubba in the big house, where they belong.

Dems as well as R’s have enabled this culture, and it’s as big an indictment of where we are as a nation as anything. Big money talks, the rest of us walk.

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By sallysense, March 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

(and elsewhere too)...

how does an executive or legislative or judicial mind work?...
with a thought-base more enriched by full illusion than truth…
those false-drawn determinations breed ill-conceived legalities…
that misguide our nation while true contemplation goes unused!...

how shall a country heal itself since mentalities sit so unchanged?...
it depends on others who care enough to steer it back on course…
truth now needs to be brought to light so ways can be rectified…
and hindering it only further feeds that malfunctioning source!...

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By omop, March 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

With all due respect to Mr. Scheer’s conclusions and commendations to Mr.
Smith’ frank and factual accounting the reality still remains that Wall Street
has disbarred the individual with some decency.

Human greed can only be curtailed by punishment and imprisonment
whether its at the gas pump or in Mr. Blankfein’s offices.

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By MenschGuy, March 15, 2012 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

There is a whale of a difference SoTexGuy between
improving the value of a home’s equity—even if only
through minor aesthetics, if not an addition of some
kind—and walking away with client’s money acquired
through “tansaction fees” from investing the client’s
money in dubious schemes that are planned not to
deliver as has been marketed/sold and therefor the
client loses his/her money while the company execs
keep their bonuses and profits—because they also
bought insurance for themselves knowing that what
they sold would fail. As happened not long ago.
“Flipping a house” is not at all in the same business
category as credit default swaps and derivitives. If
you had money placed with Goldman Sachs and tried to
get answers from them (since they won’t let you take
your money out) or seen what brokerage houses push,
you would well see the difference between “polishing
up a house to sell” and “polishing up an accounting
report to fool the investor”.

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By entropy2, March 15, 2012 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Come on, Mr. Scheer—as if Goldman Sachs needs PR flaks to help throw this story down the drain.

Listening to NPR (National Plutocracy Radio) this morning, all they did was interview some “expert” on “why-oh-why?” would someone sacrifice future employment for revenge. Then they launched into a comedy cavalcade which included some guy who wrote “I quit” on the store window in cheez-whiz, some other guy who you-tubed his quitting and then the famous flight attendant who cussed over the intercom and slid down the emergency chute.

A four+ minute report with about 8 seconds devoted to the point behind Smith’s resignation. And this is on “public” radio.

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By Palindromedary, March 15, 2012 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

I hope the Obama administration doesn’t put Smith in jail for being a snitch…we all know how the Obama administration feels about Whistleblowers…especially if they snitch on the corporate corruption that they are getting campaign funds from.

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By faith, March 15, 2012 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Mr. Scheer, I appreciated your article, but I must ask, did it really take twelve years
for Greg Smith to conclude that the routine “rip the clients off” actions at Goldman
was immoral?

I read that teenagers are routinely incarcerated for stealing CDs/video games
which then leads to permanent arrest records which means it is very difficult to
get any type of job.  Yet, the Wall Street crowd receives billions in bonuses for
their far more egregious acts - oh, and no time and no record.

Our society has lost its moral compass and it is absolutely terrifying.  I cannot
imagine what comes hence, post Citizens United.

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By allen, March 15, 2012 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Reading the op-ed letter from this disgruntled former Goldman vice-president*, I’m reminded of Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein telling someone that his firm was “...doing the Lord’s work.”

If this is so, then I submit that this warrants our considering including yet another charge in the Lord’s indictment for malfeasance.  At a minimum, couldn’t we consider describing the Deity as an unindicted co-conspirator?


*When was the last time you heard of anyone in any major firm, but especially in financial firms, who held some lower rank?  It seems that everybody working in such companies is a vice- president these days.

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By DornDiego, March 15, 2012 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

“Back in the Clinton era, it fell to the president’s last press secretary, Jake
Siewert, to justify the freeing of Wall Street investment houses to do their worst,
and in one of those delicious ironies Siewert was appointed as a managing
director and the global head of corporate communications for Goldman Sachs
the day before the devastating Smith exposé broke.”
That’s as good as writing gets, Bob Scheer.  A lot of people are asking you to
save the country and getting critical when you don’t.  I’d like to urge them to
stop sending darts to each other, and sometimes to you, and start writing the
news networks, the reporters who work for them and, more importantly, the
editors who set the agendas at these corporate garbage dumps and tell them
directly what’s wrong with their stories (you can’t call it journalism). 
The MSM, from CBS to Murdoch, is a facade and firewall for the same corruption
rampant at the arms industry, insurance and financial banks, legislature,
marketers and the rest of the military-financial complex.  Aim at least some
criticism and outrage at the p.r. machine that is a vital part of this mess the
establishment has made.

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By diman, March 15, 2012 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

An excerpt from his resigning letter:

“My proudest moments in life — getting a full scholarship to go from South Africa to Stanford University, being selected as a Rhodes Scholar national finalist, winning a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, known as the Jewish Olympics — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts”

Yeah, all that hard work, and you end up in an organization, which activities by the way include laundering money for the CIA drug trade, defrauding thousands of clients in the derivatives scam, engaging in criminal lobbying for deregulation of the financial markets resulting in the bankruptcies of the entire nations. The letter won’t cut it mister bankster, you can’t just resign your way out of it

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By jimmmmmy, March 15, 2012 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

what scares the shit out of me is this article had no impact at all. the talking heads had to stifle yawns when they used the report as filler, dog bites hand that feeds it, was the spin applied.the corruption of u.s. power elites has reached critical mass .

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By Michael Cavlan RN, March 15, 2012 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

The number one campaign contributor to president Obama? Well as I understand it, according to opensecrets.org it is….

Goldmann Sachs.

Quick. Get out the Republican Clown Car Circus distraction.


(in Elmer Fudd voice)
Ohhhhhhh dos wackally Weblwicans.

But an article about Rocky Anderson for president? Or indeed Jill Stein or Roseanne Barr?

Why should we light a candle when we can curse the darkness. Which is the point. To keep us in the dark.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, March 15, 2012 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

You call that decency? Did he give any money back?

I thought not…..I like the idea of Wall Street beimg cordoned off as a prison, but then in
some ways it already has been.

When all you do is exploit others you have already created yourself a prison, even if the
bars are golden.

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By SoTexGuy, March 15, 2012 at 7:20 am Link to this comment

Miroslav has it right.. the ugly truth is that the offensive behavior demonstrated by Goldman et-al pervades our society.. they just do it bigger and better than most. They are most any of us, except with a lot more money.

What’s the difference between what they do and for example contracting for an old home, plastering and painting and re-tiling it over to look better and flipping it over to some unsuspecting young couple.. then cashing in the profit and moving on to the next house-wreck/flip-job?

Adios!

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By Lisa Adams, March 15, 2012 at 7:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And where was he al these previous years?

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By Wishingforsanity, March 15, 2012 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Indeed, all hail, Mr. Smith.  The story reads like the script for the stunning film “Margin
Call.” My question?  Which comes first?  President Obama’s flat, tailored speeches about
helping the middle class or President Obama’s arm getting tired by continually opening
the door for these Wall Street crooks?

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MenschGuy's avatar

By MenschGuy, March 15, 2012 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

Speaking as one who has a family member in the
Financial Industry (UBS)and knowing people who
interned for companies such as Meryll Lynch and E.F.
Hutton (who fell because of their check
kiting)...this is nothing really new in this
“profession” that worships and deifies money and does
not care one iota about anything but money: it is
absolutely why there needs to be serious regulation
on an occupation that inspires the very worst in
human character…be it Enron’s traders who shut down
power plants in Ca. to profit from the heat wave—
remember that?—to forcing Madagascar to cancel its
malaria eradication so as to pay off the investment
banks, to Lehman Bros. being leveraged at more than
30 to 1 with other’s money (but not their own), to B.
Maddoff…this is simply the way it is in this
industry. It is home to those who are not the
firefighters, not the teachers, not the soldiers, not
the social workers,...but is the dwelling place for
those whose souls and minds and hearts have but one
single focus: to make as much money for themselves as
possible with not a hint or trace of concern as to
any ill effects and severe consequences may their
actions cause. If nothing else, derivatives need to
be regulated & Capital Gains tax made much higher &
Hedge Fund Managers should pay in taxes what everyone
else has to do-if not more. These people are directly
responsible for the recession we are just barely
emerging from (and has burdened us with greater debt
from the poor deals people such as Paulson at
Treasury made as he got congress to flood Wall Street
with cash)and were directly responsible for nearly
tanking the entire global economic system we are all
part of; for better or for worse, we are all part of
a global economy. The Financial Industry needs
serious, serious, reform. People like Sen. Phil
Graham and the former CEO of Lehman Bros. made out
and left the rest of us having to pay for their
deviltry. Which, by the way, is not even close to
being resolved—-look at AIG, the biggest INSURANCE
co. in the world—not a bank—that taxpayers bailed
out. It is a systemic problem with these people who
are in the “Financial Industry”. And to think they
pay less in taxes than do those who actually make
this country work is obscene.

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miroslav's avatar

By miroslav, March 15, 2012 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

You might as well declare all of Wall Street a Minimum Security Prison, and erect a wall, at say Fulton Street, and only allow in and out messengers and secretaries.
Trouble is, the greed that becomes so manifestly
outrageous at the Goldmann Sachs level, can be found, as well know, also at lower levels, as David Mamet had it so marvelously in the selling of real estate, in his GLENGARY GLENNROSS, or I on an even lower level in my WRITE SOME NUMB’S, BITCH! Telemarketing 3rd rate circuses and the like for police unions of all kind. At THAT level, greed and survivalitis meet and the thieves steal from each other, and you are at the lower depths.

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By thecrow, March 15, 2012 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

“Selling ass” is trending in your banner.

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/pulverized-to-near-power/

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 15, 2012 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

Kat, with regard to, ” For sure! But that may come only through suffering and deprivation I’m afraid. Empathy towards others is a learned thing, I think.”

There is some truth in that, but there are those who go in the exact opposite way.  I’ve talked to old survivors of the Great Depression.  It inspired greed and hoarding behaviors in some.  Can empathy be learned?  Perhaps, but perhaps we should recognize that many people will be conditioned to ignore any tendency toward empathy.  Self-oriented materialism, inspired through media and social pressure, seems the polar opposite of empathy.  I think you have to try a bit to increase sensitivity toward others, but it might also be efficient to attempt to tear down the mechanisms and institutions that outright promote self-centeredness.  Zillions of little things, the prostitot pageants.  Look at all the stuff in our culture that’s coercing us toward consumerism…......that is stuff the 99% can fight.  If we don’t buy it, they’ll make stuff we will buy.  People need to get more active in the media, but first, they need to know what should be fought.  Carry on with the car thing.  Cars are a giant scam, they’ll drain you of more money over a lifetime than anything.  Talk about enslavement. 

There are ways to avoid supporting the consumer,planned-obscolescence, eco-unfriendly environment.  Kat hit on a point worth digging down into…..car culture.  It’s a pinnacle of vanity fueled consumerism.  We can change ‘car culture’.  Check out ‘rat rods’.  Do it yourself.  Re-define ‘vanity’.  Set a trend that turns the ‘shiney new SUV’ BS upside down.  Re-use materials.  Abandon the fancy electronics and built-in tracking devices they put in supposedly for your protection (On-Star). 

Similar grass-roots driven trends can be nurtured in other areas.  Build local community around these economies.  But, at the root of any meaningful grass roots movement must be: energy production.  Home-made energy production.  It is the only way to get free.  This is so fundamental…...there must be a popular movement toward off-grid living, but not entirely off-grid.  The overhead and cost of production is too high for most people.  WE must take advantage of economies of scale, so cooperation is required, or cheaper electricity controlled by the 1% will always dominate and enslave.  This is a multi-faceted problem and I can;t write more now, but if anyone is interested I would participate.

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By Gregory F.W. Todd, March 15, 2012 at 4:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How could Robert Scheer not mention Phil Gramm in attacking the Commodities Futures Modernization Act?  That Act was tucked into the Omnibus budget bill passed into law in the waning DAYS of the Clinton Administration, December 21, 2000.  As the Wikipedia site on the Act notes, ““As Congress and the White House were hurriedly hammering out a $384-billion omnibus spending bill, Gramm slipped in a 262-page measure called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act…the measure had been considered dead-even by Gramm…’Nobody in either chamber had any knowledge of what was going on or what was in it,’ says a congressional aide familiar with the bill’s history.”

I mean, it’s great to blame Clinton and his team, but you need to keep things accurate.

Phil Gramm is the individual most responsible for the meltdown of 2008, and you should help make people aware of that.

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By kerryrose, March 15, 2012 at 2:52 am Link to this comment

My son’s college account was promised by American Express Financial Advisors to be in ‘safe, low-risk’ money markets.  They lost 3/4 of their value in 2008 during the crash. 

And these guys walk away with a billion– laughing.  I would take my advisors and the CEO’s of the culpable financial industries, line them up, and kill them with a shot gun in front of their loved ones.

And I wouldn’t give a shit.

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cyclezealot's avatar

By cyclezealot, March 15, 2012 at 2:03 am Link to this comment

The article’s reference to the Contract On America
could use an update.. ie.. the Commodity Futures
Modernization Act, a tool used by speculators equal
to that of the repeal of Glass Steagal.. Efforts at
Wall Street’s casino gambling addiction never end..
..See Propubica’s current work.. “Congress’s Genius
Jobs Plan—for Fraudsters, Shills, and Wall St.
Analysts (
http://www.propublica.org/thetrade/item/congresss-
genius-jobs-plan-for-fraudsters-shills-and-wall-st-
analysts ) Also referred to two days ago in a New
York Times editorial…Congress =  “They Have Short
memories.”...
. Again Dennis Kucinich remains a TruthDigger of the
week.. HR 2390 authored by Sen. Scottie Brown..  .
Kucinich and 16 others voted no.. Marcy Kaptur voted
yes.. Let’s call it the Andersen Accouting
Resuscitation Act.

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