Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Of movies and (profit) motives

Last night, or, early this morning, my two older children went to see the first showing of the new Harry Potter movie with my son's godfather. So, this evening my youngest daughter and I are going to see The Half-Blood Prince. I have to admit to being excited about going to see this film!

While I am getting back into the swing of things, abrupt transitions will have to suffice. Therefore, I want to draw attention to an article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi on the object of Hammerin' Hank Paulson's TARP- Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine: From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again . The timing of the article is great, given the public release of the Holy Father's Caritatis in Veritate. Also, Gabriella commented on my post announcing the encyclical's release. In her comment she quoted a Lord Griffiths, who is "a trustee of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Trust and Vice-Chairman of Goldman Sachs International" to the effect that it is people and regulations that need to change. There are no people who need to change more than those, like Lord Griffiths, who are involved with Goldman Sachs. Because it deals with finance and morality, I added Taibbi's article to my Church and Moral Issues bibliography of post-residency articles on morality that I am compiling to complete my post-residency assignment.

We'll all be relieved to know that, according to the NY Times, Goldman is back to profitability.

Taibbi's take includes this straightforward assessment:

"The bank's unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pump-and-dump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere — high gas prices, rising consumer credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money that you're losing, it's going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it's going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals."
In his encyclical, Pope Benedict writes this about profit:

"Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end that provides a sense both of how to produce it and how to make good use of it. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty. The economic development that Paul VI hoped to see was meant to produce real growth, of benefit to everyone and genuinely sustainable. It is true that growth has taken place, and it continues to be a positive factor that has lifted billions of people out of misery — recently it has given many countries the possibility of becoming effective players in international politics. Yet it must be acknowledged that this same economic growth has been and continues to be weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problems, highlighted even further by the current crisis. This presents us with choices that cannot be postponed concerning nothing less than the destiny of man, who, moreover, cannot prescind from his nature" (italics in original).
A deep diaconal bow to Eric Bugyis writing over on dotCommonweal for drawing my attention to Taibbi's piece just as my ire was building over reports of Goldman's profiteering. You can watch an interesting video with Taibbi (Tie-bee) on the RS website.

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