Taibbi: "The People vs. Goldman Sachs"


"They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it."—Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, on why the US Justice Department should bring criminal charges against Goldman Sachs.

(Photo: Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee hearing on "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: The Role of Investment Banks" on Capitol Hill in Washington April 27, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed.)


  1. The day came for Marie Antoinette, the corporate soverign immunity that these new royalty enjoy must also fall.

  2. If we can kill international terrorists and cheer about it, surely we can kill Goldman, a being on paper only.

  3. P(establishing_guilt) = 1/wealth_of_accused

    …and in this case wealth_of_accused is a fair approximation of infinite

    1. Then we just need to charge them separately with each count of wrongdoing. P(being found innocent) = (1-P(convicted of a particular charge, as you defined)^(total number of alleged crimes).

      The funny thing is that I think, in principle, solving the problem of corporate personhodd (a legal fiction used by the courts, not something appearing in any law) should be relatively simple. A single (long) act of congress should be all it takes. Here’s an idea off the top of my head, presumably completely unworkable of course, but food for thought. (1) Corporations are not people. They possess some of the rights of citizens (press, religion, search and seizure, trial) but not others (limited speech, more limited arms). (2) Corporations can be tried for crimes, excepts (this is where it gets complicated) under circumstances where the individuals working at the corporation should be tried instead. (3) In addition to paying fines, corporations can be “executed” by closing down and selling off all their assets, paying corporate income tax on the assets, then splitting the proceeds between the shareholders and the treasury. (4) A corporation can be “imprisoned” by having their net profits seized for the appropriate number of tax years (including fractions).

      Legal fictions like corporate personhood exist because courts are forced to settle issues about which there is not yet any adequate law. Look at how English courts made people evict squatters before the invention of titles. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Ejectment

    2. Need to modify that equation a little:

      P(establishing_guilt) = (1/wealth_of_accused) x number_of_people_carrying_pitchforks

  4. Now what would the speech bubble say?
    “Senator, remember who paid to get you in here.”

    1. It’s not very creative, but my first thought was a Smeagol-like internal monologue. “They wantsss it! They wants to take the preciousss!”

      I would love to see Goldman-Sachs get their comeuppance. The US is a sinking ship right now, blown to uselessness by short-sighted, greedy corporate powerhouses. Either the government can lay there while guys like Blankfein screw it to death, or the government can fight back and force the subhuman scum to pay for what they’ve done.

  5. Xeni, I think you have a new photo meme developing on BB’s page today.

    Pictures of frowny-faced men!

    1. from the article “…Corporate stealing is practically the national pastime, and Goldman Sachs is far from the only company to get away with doing it. “

    2. snort….Amen.

      Really, they took YOUR money? How’d they do that? Please don’t say your tax dollars in the bailout, that was paid back with interest.

      And do you want to know the sickest part of this. THE SICKEST! Many of their most successful vampire squid, er bankers, have left to hedge funds where they are making beaucoup shorting Goldman’s stock that Taibbi has helped to bring down its share price, with his justifiable criticisms.

      The rats are jumping ship and finding succor on the totally UNregulated floating luxury liner that is any number of hedge funds. These guys are THE most deserving of everyone’s ire and scrutiny, but of course few are looking in their direction. Least of all, Taibbi.

  6. There needs to be a campaign to pressure the DOJ to pursue this, MERS & it’s actions, and all the other fraudsters or the next time – when everything blows up it’ll be far, far worse.

  7. I want to be wearing a really big jewel encrusted ring that I can turn around when I bitch-slap that smug son of a bitch. I want him to understand as he bleeds that it’s my money that he’s stealing, and that there are consequences to their actions.

  8. Goldman is not stupid. Most of the time it makes sure that the laws are appropriately changed BEFORE doing what would have historically been illegal. It’s tough to prosecute a criminal who has a significant say in the making of laws. Doubly so when the laws are technical.

    I think that there is little doubt that Goldman and its ilk have been shamelessly skullfucking the SPIRIT of the law, and that they continue to do so. Catching them violating the LETTER of the law will prove much more difficult.

    1. Well, they were just caught. That’s what the report suggests. They also lied under oath.
      Whether Holder does anything about it is another thing.

  9. This is a fine example of why Corporate rights should not equate Citizens Rights. These People will never come to Justice. They might scapegoat a few Martyrs for the Great Freak Show to watch, but nothing substantive will come from this. Unfortunately. America, doesn’t have the gumption it used to have. That is the problem with to much diversity. A house divided will eventually fall, and nothing is strong enough to unite the Populace to the point of saying to hell with it, and fixing the problems. All we’re doing is watching the Gladiators fight and the Chariot Races, run, while Rome burns!

  10. @ Comment 11

    Andrei, so what you are saying is we need to get someone who has a great deal of experience with the difference between read as written and read as intended? Okay, who wants to find some decent D&D DM’s to vote into congress?

    1. Nah, I think that we just saner, more compartmentalized lawmaking. Two suggestions.

      1. Limit lobbying expenditures to a couple hundred bucks per individual or formally registered organization. Unlimited lobbying expenditures are as much ‘free speech’ as screaming through a super-powerful loudspeaker to make sure that no one’s voice but yours is heard.

      2. Lawmaking, especially at the federal/national level should be area-of-expertise based, not geography based. I.e. one part of Congress is fully responsible for making laws regarding the military (and creating the taxes to pay for their programs), another for healthcare, another for financial regulation, and so on. This way, when Congress does something stupid, we know exactly who to fire during the next election, and are able to fire the idiots without jeopardizing the other, working parts of the legislative program.

      On another issue, @sdmikev, I’ve browsed through the report and it reads to me as a (politically convenient) indictment of ‘bad’ actions than of something capable of being proven in court. Sure there will be a few small-fry who will have their lives (justifiably) ruined, and sure there will be some more out-of-court settled fines of material-but-inconsequential amounts. But I do not think that there will be any major criminal processes, and the fault will not lie with the DoJ. Our bought politicians have made sure of this ahead of time…

  11. That whole article is so depressing. I can’t bring myself to bluster about what I hope would happen to them and others that exercised such greed under the guise of corporate cover.

    What it does tell me is that we are a country that will let these douche bags run-off with this money, while vilifying any effort to do beneficial things, say like universal health care. Right? Because the right to steal all that money is much more important than any feeling that maybe a country so rich and productive might be responsible enough to simply take care of its people when they are sick. And what would that cost? A thin sliver of the amount that GS stole. Or how about building a first class public education system, equalizing the quality of our schools for rich and poor – how tiny would that bill be compared to what GS stole?

    And that is what is so depressing. That our values and goals are so fucked up that we can’t even do easy things that would be great things to do. Yet we can stand by and let these scum bags fleece the economy and bring hard times on every single last one of us.

  12. Man, the cesspit of corruption that allows scum like this to waltz free stinks so bad I can smell it across the Pacific.

  13. I think a RICO prosecution would be the best approach. RICO = Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act. A few instances of securities fraud and all of the management can be held criminally & civilly liable. Pre-trial seizure of assets is also an option.

    The problem here, however, is not the approach to prosecution, it is the unwillingness of the Obama administration to prosecute. Can’t do much when the A.G. is pwned.

    RICO allows for private individuals to sue even if the government won’t act. Perhaps there are a few shareholders out there harmed by Goldman’s malfeasance?

  14. Would it be possible to lock Lloyd Blankfein in the same hotel room as Dominique Strauss-Kahn seal the doors? Perhaps give Dom 10 Viagra for a sporting head start?
    The idea of Neo-Liberalism forcing itself on Crony Capitalism for an entire evening seems somehow so very appealing.

  15. An oath really means nothing to folks whom live their lives chasing after money. I, for one, despise the idea of it. Unfortunately, I need it to survive in this day and age.

  16. I’m sure if enough of us retweet this and send it to #obama it should start trending enough to get back on the radar of these politicians. If the arab world can use twitter and facebook to bring down their crooks I am sure the US can use it to get some dodgy bankers arrested.

  17. Good article, but the guy really needs an editor. (Or does Rolling Stone add the “horseshits” themselves?)

    Search for “Blankfein also testified unequivocally to the following” if you want to skip the tl/dr.

  18. What about Price-Waterhouse-Cooper’s role in this scamopoly? If you auditor is not finding these sorts of things before they get to this level, then they are complicit.

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