You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. You have nothing to hide if you have nothing to fear.
So fear nothing and you need not hide. Hide nothing and you need not fear.

The motto of the Department of Homeland Decency

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Goldman Sachs and the one-man one-boat principle

Here's a little known historical fact that makes it easier to understand how Goldman Sachs scored 200 doses of H1N1 vaccine: Goldman Sachs execs traveling on the Titanic got the first 10 lifeboats off the ship. And not just seats; each exec got one lifeboat all to himself. One man, one boat: the founding principle of our Wall Street democracy. Even back then they were special, probably because even then they were doing God's work.

But when a ship like the Titanic sinks, sending lots of commoners to a cold and watery grave, you don't want a story about your leaders abandoning a ship like rats. You have to come up with something. So the Goldman Sachs PR department went into its full damage control mode, and they were awfully good at this, even in those early days of PR. Back then, PR departments were new and the public had no idea people might lie to them about these things. But he Goldman Sachs PR department, well, they knew they had to get ahead of this story and stay there. Even for decades, if necessary.

So as soon as rumors started spreading that 10 executives survived the sinking of the Titanic because they had their own private lifeboats, the PR pros went into seclusion to resolve this. They worked long hours, long into the night, arguing back and forth about what to do to preserve the good name of Goldman Sachs. But they couldn't come up with anything. Too many people lost lives, and the public was viewing it as a great tragedy. Then out of the blue, when they were about to give up and go look for other careers, it came to them: Blame the Titanic.

It was brilliant,and at the time only the Goldman Sachs PR department could conceive of an idea like this. Blame the Titanic and its builders. They didn't build a strong enough ship. They cut corners. They were smug and arrogant. They shouldn't have been going so fast through fields of icebergs. Plus, there weren't enough lifeboats on the ship. And the captain was kind of craven; was he looking for a promotion? A book deal? The adulation of men and women everywhere? Blame the ship. Who could ever argue that? The ship was miles below the surface, as was any evidence that might prove the Goldman PR department wrong.

And that wasn't all. They also would weave stories of brave men who gave up their seats on lifeboats so women and children could survive. And the crowning glory of this PR effort: a brave orchestra that continued to play, even as the ocean swirled around their feet and legs. Again, who could argue that this never happened? A bunch of women and children in lifeboats who were cold and grieving for their husbands, fathers and brothers and so weren't very reliable witnesses? It was the perfect touch for this noble story: Musicians playing to the end, providing a heavenly sound on this hellish night.

As we now know, the public loved these stories. They wanted more, and they bought books and newspapers and everything else that provided these stories. When movies became popular, they flocked to movies about the Titanic, because it confirmed their belief in the dignity of mankind. We could face death, even a fearfully cold death with courage and grace.

Shoved aside, as was foreseen by the Goldman Sachs PR department, was the fact that 10 Goldman Sachs executives got private lifeboats off the Titanic. The execs even left behind their wives (all Goldman execs back then were men) and children. Most of these families, of course, survived by getting on lifeboats later. But when they told their story of being left behind by their husbands and fathers, no one believed them. Again: they were women who had suffered horribly and so were not reliable witnesses. They didn't have good PR people working for them. The other story was too good, proving, as it did once again, how noble and advanced we were, how god-like we had become.

Plus, we lived in the same country that Wall Street was on.

That's the true history of this epochal event. This is the first time this story has been made public,and we have it here only because a mysterious envelope was delivered to us. Whether it is true or not, we don't know. We believe it is, because, after all, we are talking about Goldman Sachs.

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