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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Goldman Sachs churns out enormous profits from its high-rolling, casino investment schemes, while also churning out fat paychecks for its top executives. They literally sack up the gold, even as their speculative gambles have wreaked havoc on our real economy.

But, finally recognizing that their public approval rating has sunk lower than mad cow disease, Goldman’s banking barons now want you to know that they feel your pain and are eager to “give back” to the people. So — ta-da! — they’ve transformed themselves into philanthropists, having goosed up the bank’s foundation in order to flash their “charitable side.” Goldman’s chief of staff noted that “people said we weren’t doing enough” to address the gross inequities created by Wall Streeters, so they’ve turned their foundation into the fourth-largest corporate charity in America. In an orchestrated show that the New York Times dubbed “reputation redemption,” the bank’s charitable arm doled out $241 million last year, including grants to women in developing nations and small-business projects here in the U.S.

That sum would be impressive, except for a couple of ugly hickies on it. First, the foundation spends an unseemly amount on slick videos and PR efforts to extol Goldman’s new “generosity,” diverting philanthropic funds from altruism to corporate promotion. One Goldman banker, who’s appalled at the self-congratulatory splashiness, said of the charity: “It’s run as if it’s a Broadway show.”

Second, $241 million sounds like a lot — until you see that the financial empire’s income last year topped $34 billion. Do the math, and it turns out these “bankers with a heart of gold” actually allocated less than one percent of Goldman’s income to its widely ballyhooed beneficence.

How pathetic. Even poor people put these multimillionaires to shame, regularly donating 3.2 percent of their meager incomes to charity. Trying to buy redemption on the cheap is just another banker scam, but why aren’t we surprised that they would even view charity as a self-serving hustle? After all, on Wall Street, it’s assumed that anything can be bought and sold — from fraudulent investment packages to congress critters.