Borrowing money. Going into debt. Christians are often warned about debt and rightly so, as recent financial meltdowns have highlighted.
Behind all the borrowing and lending is a multi-trillion dollar banking industry that people these days love to hate. An article in Rolling Stone (July, 2009), entitled “Inside the Great American Bubble Machine,” described Goldman Sachs, the most venerable of the investment banks, as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” With press like that it’s not surprising that one source recently reported an increase of filing for handgun permits for self-defense purposes by Goldman executives.
In a recent interview with the Times Online, however, Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, made a shocking statement that attracted no small amount of verbal small-arms fire his way. He said that he’s just a banker “doing God’s work.”
“I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer.” Blankfein confesses, but then argued, “We’re very important. We help companies to grow by helping them to 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 cycle. We have a social purpose.”
Step back a moment from the greed and arrogance of many of today’s financial sector leaders and consider Blankfein’s claim at face value—whether he understood it or not. Does lending have a positive social or even a spiritual purpose? Is it a predatory evil? Is it perhaps a necessary evil? What do you think?
For those of us who believe that all work is God’s work, we think Blankfein is right though he may not have taken his statement seriously. If he did, Goldman would likely be a different company. To read more about the moral good of investment banking you’ll want to read John Terrill’s article in Cardus. It’s a great reminder of the need to reclaim the moral high ground in any kind of work.