In defence of Goldman Sachs: boat - Macleans.ca

In defence of Goldman Sachs: boat

Dear super-greedy, ethically barren parasites of pure evil: um, have you filled those vacancies yet?

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I’ve searched deep down in my wallet sure, your financial firm is ethically barren, but I’d be a pretty awesome rich guy

Getty Images; iStock; CP; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Perhaps you’ve read the uplifting tale of the man who quit his lucrative job at Goldman Sachs because “it makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off.” Or the story of the Bay Street trader who walked away from a huge salary because the industry had become “one hell of a mess” where the “culture was rotten.”

Emboldened by these acts of courage—inspired by these elegies to what truly matters in life—I’ve decided to use my column this week to speak directly to the soulless, faceless, money-grubbing financial firms of the world.

Dear super-greedy, ethically barren parasites of pure evil: um, have you filled those two vacancies yet? Because I have searched deep within myself—especially the wallet part of myself—and I am totally willing to get paid a ridiculous amount of money to work for you. P.S. Remember: ridiculous.

Don’t let all my jubilant high-fiving of random strangers fool you: this hasn’t been an easy decision. On one hand, I value the serenity of a balanced lifestyle, the nobility of honest work and the ability to sleep at night with a clear conscience. On the other hand, I want a boat.

Sure, the guy who quit Goldman Sachs said “the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.” And yes, he said that “morally bankrupt” executives refer to their own clients as “muppets”—and that unwitting investors are steered toward underperforming financial products that return to the firm the largest possible fees. But in defence of Goldman Sachs: boat.

Here in Canada, the guy who left Bay Street for a job in print journalism (wave of the future!) bemoaned the financial industry’s culture of entitlement, saying, “I once saw an investment banker become enraged when his plane ticket was booked economy instead of business class. ‘I’m not sitting in the back with the proletariat!’ he declared.” As a member of the proletariat, I feel compelled to point out: we don’t like flying with us either. It doesn’t make you special.

A number of factors contributed to my selfless decision to make millions of dollars by selling something that makes my client millions of dollars despite neither of us knowing quite what that something is. A collateralized debt obligation? A handful of beans? With all the fine print, it’s hard to be sure.

First and foremost, I have no qualms about foisting highly dubious products on an unsuspecting public. After all, I worked in politics.

Second, I’d be a pretty awesome rich guy. True, others with absurd salaries have had a head start on becoming pretentious and unbearable—but I’d be willing to put in the work to catch up. In fact, for a couple months now I’ve been emasculating sommeliers on my own time and overusing the word “bro.”

Third, a massive salary couldn’t come too soon: it would give me the freedom to buy a fancy sports car and have a proper mid-life crisis. Pasting flame decals on my Volkswagen Golf just isn’t cutting it.

Fourth, I have reached the point in life where it’s vitally important to me to spend less time with my family. Our young boys are growing up. They’re starting to ask tough questions about those Viagra commercials. If I plan those 14-hour days just right, I won’t see them again until those questions have been answered by their wives.

Fifth, and most important: my soul is unlikely to get any more valuable than it is right now. In some ways, I almost feel sorry for the financial industry: in 1978, I’d have been willing to sell it for a photograph of Jaclyn Smith with her shirt off. Nowadays, I’m not going to sign it away for anything less than a ridiculous salary and a ridiculouser bonus. Also, that photograph of Jaclyn Smith with her shirt off, please.

Sure, selling my soul will place me in jeopardy of eternal damnation and render me a dry husk of a human being, obsessed with the pursuit of greater personal wealth at the expense of the people I love and the values I cherish. But ultimately, I can just make like that Goldman Sachs guy—quit in a huff after 12 years, call my friends and colleagues a bunch of bottom-feeders and reclaim my moral compass.

I get to keep the boat, right?