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Right Turn
Posted at 03:18 PM ET, 03/14/2012

Breaking up with Goldman Sachs

Having been trying to figure out how many years the Republican primary would have to go on for Newt Gingrich to win, I was drawn by my colleague Alexandra Petri to a much more amusing subject.

I’ve heard of people proposing on the jumbotron at baseball games (but never, it seems, at football or basketball games, have you noticed?), but resigning on the op-ed page of the New York Times? Greg Smith, definitely in the 1 percent, quit his job at Goldman Sachs because the cads there were . . . drum roll . . . interested in making money. Lots of it. All the time. And from really rich people.

I’m appalled, too. At Smith, not those profit hounds at Goldman Sachs. The items he cites seem like nothing more that aggressive salesmanship:

What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

Oh my heavens: make as much money off your clients as you can??!!

Next thing you know car dealers will be trying to sell you cars others don’t want, realtors will be pushing you to buy a more expensive home (shhh, don’t tell — but they work on a commission) and your kids will be selling you magazine subscriptions you don’t want. (This month’s “Travel+Leisure” sits on the counter.)

Put aside the jerkiness of quitting on the pages of a newspaper, and you still have to wonder if Greg Smith is really this silly or is playing silly, well, to get a column in the New York Times (which remains shocked by the entire capitalism thing) and a book deal or an appearance on Oprah.

Smith describes the recruitment process: “For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process.” Apparently, not grueling enough. No one in the interview seems to have asked him if he had objections to trying to maximize profit legally.

This is victimology to the nth degree. He’s made gazillion dollars and now has decided its beneath him. And for this he gets space in The Gray Lady. I can hardly wait for President Obama to call him and tell him his parents should be proud of him.

By  |  03:18 PM ET, 03/14/2012

Categories:  Culture, Media

 
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