October 31, 2012
Cleaning Up After Bailouts
Click image to enlarge
This picture shows the exterior of Goldman Sachs headquarters, protected by a wall of sandbags from flood waters that never quite reached it. The sandbags rest on wooden pallets. The pallets are hollow, like all pallets of this type. In addition, open channels run between the pallets, straight back to the Goldman Sachs building.
Imagine now that you are a little molecule of water, surrounded by quadrillions of other little molecules of water, all of you subject to the iron laws of physics. What in the world are you going to do when you come up against this barrier to your blind urge to flood Goldman Sachs? Throw up your tiny hands and say, “Fuck it, guys, let’s all go down the block and flood Citibank instead.”
Of course not. Nobody messes with physics. You go under and around those sandbags, straight into Goldman Sachs’ basement. So what were all those Goldman Sachs banksters thinking, then? They can’t be morons, since they’re rich. In American English, rich and intelligent are synonyms.
They must have been making a feeble gesture toward flood control while all the time secretly hoping to go underwater. Then the rest of us would have to bail them out, and a smart guy can make a bundle from bailouts. Just look at AIG.
Posted by Jerome Doolittle at October 31, 2012 01:31 PM
I wonder if it's more a matter of the sandbags still just sitting there the way they were delivered (possibly by the mooching and looting government bodies?), rather than that being intended as the final product? Not that it makes much difference to your point. They either look stupid, lazy or indifferent, or any permutation of those three.
Not quite sure what's going on here. Some of these bags appear to be gravel.
I think they were creating bulwarks to shoot from in the event victims of the storm got out of control and tried to seek refuge within their walls. Just my guess.
No, no, no. When the water arrived they were going to pitch baked financial statements into the gaps.
- lot of work on nothing. Several pictures show the lobby protected by a typical ramp of sandbags (gravel bags interleaved, sometimes laid vertically, as I understand the style). This is just the way they were delivered. Goldman may not boast the smartest guys in the room anymore but they are not dumb enough to leave the sandbags on the pallet. Now if you had told me the bags had been shoveled full of nickels by mortgagees working under straw bosses for a chance to avoid foreclosure by spinning a wheel of fortune while senior brokers humped their wives over behind a haystack, I would have been amused. I hate those bastards as much as anybody and would happily have set them on fire while they drowned, but they can't be blamed for this foolishness. Refrain from such FOX- quality dopery.
Dunno, Ice. They could be dumb enough. There's room for a lot of metaphorical action here. These are guys who built a structure of sand supported by air when they put derivatives under unstable mortgages (if I understand the mortgage bubble correctly). And then there's the strong possibility (getting back to the nonmetaphorical) that a bunch of MBAs, junk security salesmen, quants and stock gamblers wouldn't have enough common sense to tell a sieve from a dike. Take the sandbags off the pallets they were delivered on and build a real wall, what's that all about? That's below my pay grade, muffet work. Got no time to even look at that crap on the sidewalk. Let me in, I've got jobs to create!
Imagine for a moment that you are a person, perhaps working in the lower echelons of the financial industry in NYC in 2008; then, due to the crisis, your firm gets reamed, the worker bees are the ones who pay, and you are now out of a job. It takes you two years to get back into the workforce, and when you finally do, it is back to hard manual or unskilled labor; let's say, a loading/hauling/delivery job. Every time you drive your truck across the Brooklyn Bridge, you curse the assholes with their feet up on their desks in those gleaming towers.
Then, Sandy hits, and you get orders to deliver sandbags to Goldman.
Accordingly, you make the delivery to Goldman headquarters, and get your bill of lading signed by a low-level property manager/facilities type. The Goldman people are all getting ready for the big storm, running around. No one has time to talk to you, but no matter: you've got your job done. No time, and really, no need, to mention to anyone that the material is on pallets; it's always on pallets.
Back across the geometrically perfect and satisfying Bridge, with gleaming glass towers in your rearview mirrors, whistling a particularly merry bit of Rodgers & Hammerstein.