Goldman Sachs Authors a Greek Tragedy

Another Greek-based cargo ship and its crew was recently hijacked by
Somalian pirates, costing the Greek owners an undisclosed amount in

Such ongoing acts of brazen piracy off the coast of Somalia have
riveted the establishment media's attention. But the same news hawks
have missed (or ignored) a much more brazen, longer-running and far
larger robbery in Greece by Gucci-wearing thieves who are more
sophisticated than common pirates - but lack a pirate's moral depth.

I refer to - who else? - Wall Street financiers. Specifically, Goldman Sachs.

Goldman, a global financial conglomerate and America's largest
banking fiefdom, is notorious in our country for its arrogant,
anything-goes corporate ethic that is astonishingly avaricious, even by
Wall Street's dissolute standards. The firm is villainous enough that
it could be its own reality TV show, perhaps titled, "Bankers Behaving
Badly." A few highlights:

- During the past decade, Goldman's wizards were particularly inventive monkey-wrenchers, devising much of the investment gimmickry that enriched crafty Wall Streeters like them, even as it led to the wrecking of our economy.

- In 2006, Goldman's CEO was considered such a whiz that he was
elevated to treasury secretary and soon was handed the task of fixing
the very economic mess he had helped create. His "fix" was the
cockamamie, self-serving, multitrillion-dollar taxpayer bailout that
did save Wall Street ... but has left our economy in shambles.

- Rather than apologizing for their failures and using their bailout funds
to rush loans to America's credit-starved businesses, Goldman's
debauched financiers immediately went back to playing the same old
global game of high-risk craps that caused America's crash, this time
rolling the dice with the backing of our tax dollars.

- Juiced by an infusion of federal funds, Goldman executives
declared a profit this year and promptly lavished more than $16 billion
in bonus payments on themselves.

- To keep the fun rolling, Goldman is now lobbying furiously in
Washington to kill regulatory and consumer bills that could rein in its
destructive greed.

- Moving from mere greed to naked narcissism, Goldman's current CEO,
Lloyd Blankfein, has proclaimed that his bonus bonanza is warranted
because he is "doing God's work."

Perhaps he was referring to one of the Greek gods.

It turns out that, for the past decade,
Goldman has also been practicing its ethical flimflammery in Greece, a
nation long mired in a sea of debt.

In 2001, Goldman's financial alchemists formulated a scheme to
allow the Greek government to hide the extent of its rising debt from
the public and the European Community's budget overseers. Under this
diabolical deal, Goldman funneled new capital from super-wealthy investors into the government's coffers.

Fine. Not so fine, though, is that, in exchange, Greek officials
secretly agreed that the investors would get 20 years' worth of the
annual revenue generated by such public assets as Greece's airports. For its part, Goldman pocketed $300 million in fees paid by the country's unwitting taxpayers.

The financial giant dubbed its airport scheme "Aeolus," after the
ancient Greek god of the wind - and, sure enough, any long-term
financial benefit for Greece was soon gone with the wind. By hiding the
fact that the government's future revenues had been consigned to secret
investors, Goldman bankers made the country's balance sheet look much
rosier than it was, allowing Greek officials to keep spending like
there was no tomorrow.

Last month, however, tomorrow arrived. Greece's crushing debt has
exploded into a full-blown crisis, with its leaders disgraced and the
country on the precipice of the unthinkable: the default of a sovereign

So, who is getting punished for the finagling of Greek politicos and
Goldman profiteers? The people, of course - just like here! Greeks now
face deep wage cuts, rising taxes and the elimination of public
services just so their government can pay off debts the people didn't
even know it had. Meanwhile, Greece's financial conflagration is
endangering the stability of Europe's currency and causing financial
systems worldwide (including ours) to wobble again. All of this to
enrich a handful of global speculators.

Thanks, Goldman Sachs.

© 2023 Jim Hightower