Re: yesterday's viral insider defection: Why didn't he leave Goldman Sachs earlier?

Here it is. I didn’t see fit to repost. It seemed self-serving. I couldn’t understand why, if Greg Smith, an Executive of Goldman Sachs, really embodied the values he espoused, he would remain in that toxic hellhole for twelve years. It also made me wonder if this op-ed will be used to steer the wall street conversation in the direction of blaming the “culture” of the global financial ponzi scheme rather than its structure which not only enables greed, but encourages it. It’s easier to pretend to fix the culture than to actually restructure the system.

(This situation reminds me of blaming certain seemingly anomalous incidents (like the recent killing of 16 Afghanistan village civilians, mostly women and children) that regularly pop out from the the systematic, structural propellent towards war and greed that has governed our so-called civilization since — since when? World War I? when bankers funded both sides of the battle? — on “rogue” soldiers who go “berserk,” when clearly, it’s the structure itself that needs to be dismantled.)

I seem to be alone in my assessment. Truthdig’s Robert Scheer titled his reflection “At Last, Some Decency on Wall Street.” Even Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, who usually excoriates traders, called Greg Smith’s departure “brave.” Huh? Burning that golden bridge with NYT op-ed fanfare just created another Golden Goose, perhaps even more toxic, a p.r. “brand” that guarantees million-dollar book offers, lecture circuits, and so on.

Am I too cynical?

Last night, I happened upon a 2009 movie, The Good Guy, through streaming video netflix, and watched it. The usual synchronicity . . . I had no idea that it would be about the culture of wall street. Call it “Wall Street, Junior,” says a NYT review. You might want to watch it, pitting a really good guy against a player, and guess who gets the girl. The player’s boss is especially entertaining, jumpy, so stoked as to be coked, yet almost serpentine in his graceful long-fingered hand movements. And of course, his best line, when confronting the player who had just lost his best underling to another firm, “YOUR JOB IS TO MAKE ME RICH. REMEMBER THAT!”

But back to “Why I left Goldman Sachs.” It is a classic piece, beautifully written with extraordinarily damning detail. On balance, despite my misgivings, I’m glad he wrote it, and glad the NYT published it, and really glad it went viral. And yes, I’ll be deeply interested in what this whistleblower does next, if and how and whether he adheres to his stated values.

Beyond this one example, I remain deeply committed to encouraging any and all efforts to remind ourselves to focus on transforming the big picture, our worship of money as the bottom line. Rather, let us celebrate our relations — with our inner lives, with each other, and with the Earth and all her creatures swimming as one within this glorious, infinite, ever-arising, ever-replenishing cosmos.

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