November 17, 2010
By Tony Manfred
Goldman Sachs is a criminal money factory with a vast network of alumni who occupy the most powerful positions in the financial-regulatory world, effectively protecting the bank from any economic threat — governmental or otherwise — such that the bank is free to suck every bit of profit out of every corner of American life, regardless of collateral damage, like an impossibly large vacuum cleaner whose belly fills not with dirt and hair destined for the garbage, but dollars and cents destined for the already bulging pockets of the upper-class. This we can all agree on.
Yet each fall and spring Goldman recruiters are afforded space on East Hill. The bank, along with the rest of corporate America, pursues Cornell’s best and brightest — tabling at career fairs, holding information sessions and setting up shop in the narrow corridors of Barnes Hall. It vets and interrogates, tests and examines, and eventually it leaves campus with a wish list of eager undergrads. A few months later, those same undergrads are paying for a few rounds of drinks at a celebratory Long Island iced tea night. And come summer, these undergrads have transformed into full-fledged Goldmanites — squeezing every drip of profit out of the rag that is America with conscious abandon — under the tragically correct assumption that the rest of us are, above all else, jealous of them.
This must end. A corporation with Goldman’s track record of bubble-building and profiteering has no place on this campus.
Soon-to-be grads who are cynical and money hungry enough to want to work for the bank can seek it out themselves, but this campus should not be the setting of such a union.
The bank can hold information sessions downtown and conduct interviews at the Courtyard by Marriott, but it should not, in any way, shape or form, be permitted to use this university’s facilities and resources to enlist Cornell students into its system of economic manipulation and moral abjectivity.
Goldman’s presence on campus, and the notable mass acceptance of this presence, illustrates our generation’s irrational conception of work. We act like the professional aspect of our lives lies outside of the morals, values and interests that govern the rest of our choices. For us, the goal of getting a job supercedes the substance of that job. Employment of any kind, by definition, cannot be a bad thing. Yes, a job can be amoral, meaningless, sadistic and socially destructive, but — as our mindset suggests — it is still a job.
Indeed when a friend tells me she’s applying for investment banking positions, I don’t protest. In fact, I say good luck. And when an acquaintance tells me that he scored a position at Merrill Lynch, I offer my truthful congratulations.
But this sort of courtesy is undoubtedly a part of the problem. We need to move past the idea that employment is unassailable, that jobs are immune to moral- or value-based criticism. We need to come to terms with the fact that people who go to work for a greedy, criminal machine that has been consciously inflating economic bubbles and screwing over the public since the 1920s, are, by definition, greedy criminals. These people are our classmates, our sorority sisters, our best friends, but they are also bad people. To put it bluntly, they are assholes. Huge assholes. Assholes who are aware of the social and economic damage they will soon perpetuate, but don’t care.
No one is putting a gun to AEM majors’ heads and demanding they work for Goldman, there are plenty of other job opportunities at their disposal. But yet, they choose to work as money-grubbing minions for a bank that played an active role in this nation’s recent economic collapse.
There is nothing we can do to stop Goldman Sachs. Goldmanites are entrenched in every nook and cranny of America’s financial system, with roots so deeply seated in its power structure that there is little realistic chance that it will be forced to change its practices.
What we can do is make our tiny plot of Upstate New York Goldman-free. We can make our facilities and resources a privilege afforded to companies that don’t knowingly sell billions of dollars in crap investments to unsuspecting traders. We can play professional matchmaker between strapping undergrads and upstanding young businesses that don’t sacrifice economic sanity for short-term profit. We can make it the rule that a company that paid a tax rate of one fucking percent in the same year it helped cripple a nation’s economy is given no quarter by this university.
Most importantly, as students, we can cut the bullshit and tell our friends that, yes, working for Goldman Sachs does make you a bad person.