The Common Good

Goldman Sachs' Excremental Deals

They were described using the first word on George Carlin's list of the seven words you cannot say on television. This was the way internal e-mails from Goldman Sachs described at least one investment they were selling to clients. Poop deals. People inside Goldman Sachs continued to sell the deals while people on the other side of the business were betting that bad was bad. When the fertilizer hit the fan, Goldman Sachs customers came out stinky. They lost money while the people who bet against the meadow muffins made billions.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Goldman Sachs because of such practices. These excreta weakened world financial markets to the point of another Great Depression. Now our lawmakers are working on financial reforms. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, on the floor of the Senate, we witness the same old same old from the Republicans. Republican, plus one Democrat--Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and the famous Corn Husker Kickback of the Healthcare bill--have voted against bringing a financial reform bill to the floor for debate. Last night, the Democrats and the Republican finally struck a deal to allow debate.

The trouble the Republicans claim to have with the bill sounds so very familiar. They say that it is too much, that the process ought to go more slowly. They are again resorting to falsehoods when they say it will continue to allow bailouts of failing companies with taxpayer money. The proposed bill would dismantle failed companies. There is no moral hazard here.

The Republicans have finally offered an alternative. Among other things, they want new rules for Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, mortgage lenders that took billions of tax dollars, and they want to limit the reach of a proposed consumer protection agency. They want less oversight of small businesses. However, consumers also require protection from small businesses on Main Street. Businesses are not automatically virtuous simply because they are small. This is especially true of predatory pay day lenders.

We may shake our heads at the foul language used to describe the foul deals that made its way from the e-mails to the Senate hearing room to our television screens, sometimes bleeped and sometimes not. It is not the language that offends. The word is just one of the seven you cannot say on television. It is the deed that is a curse on the land. What comes out of our mouths is the overflow of our thinking. We think. We speak. We act. Moreover, it is possible to curse the land without ever using one of the seven words you cannot say on television. "Greed is good," for example.

Dishonest business deals and political gamesmanship by both parties who take way too much money from Wall Street in campaign contributions amounts to ordure, chips, droppings, egesta, fecal matter, manure piled hip deep on Wall Street, Main Street, and in Congress. And none of us escapes the stink.

Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.

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