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9 November 2009updated 27 Sep 2015 2:28am

Goldman boss says he does “God’s work”

Who does he think he's kidding?

By Sholto Byrnes

It was only on Friday that I posted on the proposition that “Jesus was a lefty” and included these words: “Feeble attempts to suggest that the Parable of the Talents shows that Christ would want everyone to work at Goldman Sachs fail to convince, and in any case clearly miss the larger point.”

But lo, it came to pass that only two days later Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman and chief executive, gave an interview to the Sunday Times in which he said this: “We’re very important. We help companies to grow by helping them raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous circle. We have a social purpose.” He was, he said, “doing God’s work”.

And Blankfein is not alone. Brian Griffiths, Goldman’s international adviser, argued: “The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest.” That, in October, was within the walls of St Paul’s Cathedral. Last week the CEO of Barclays, John Varley, announced in St Martin-in-the-Fields that “profit is not Satanic”.

Varley may have had a point, but I don’t think Griffiths did. His is a frankly vile distortion of a message that ultimately is one of selflessness, not self-interest. I don’t think “selflessness” is a word that comes to mind when one contemplates Goldman Sachs, or any of those great temples of commerce whose false gods were exposed by the crash. We are all too aware of how much “self-interest” matters to them, with their offensive pleas about how they can’t be expected to manage without Lottery figure-sized bonuses. Surely we don’t want to return to worshipping those idols again so soon?

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