Goldman Sachs vice chair: "Public must learn to 'tolerate the inequality' of bonuses"

Oh, the humility!!! Sackcloth and ashes for everyone else! An unbelievable class warfare quote of the day.

One of the City’s leading figures has suggested that inequality created by bankers’ huge salaries is a price worth paying for greater prosperity.

In remarks that will fuel the row around excessive pay, Lord Griffiths, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said banks should not be ashamed of rewarding their staff.

Speaking to an audience at St Paul’s Cathedral in London about morality in the marketplace last night, Griffiths said the British public should “tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity for all”.

He added that he knew what inequality felt like after spending his childhood in a mining town in Wales. Both his grandfathers were miners who had to retire from work through injury.

With public anger mounting at the forecast of bumper bonuses for bankers only a year after the industry was rescued by the taxpayer, he said bankers’ bonuses should be seen as part of a longer-term investment in Britain’s economy. “I believe that we should be thinking about the medium-term common good, not the short-term common good … We should not, therefore, be ashamed of offering compensation in an internationally competitive market which ensures the bank businesses here and employs British people,” he said.

I had to catch my breath after reading that headline. So let’s see, paying people 400 times the average worker is going to make the company more successful? Is the brain power of the CEO so irreplaceable, so precious and uniquely powerful that it deserves that level of compensation — EVEN WHEN YOU RUN YOUR COMPANY INTO THE SH*TTER?! That’s what this is about. The people who are getting laid off and losing their health insurance, losing their homes, didn’t make the decisions some of these overcompensated thieves at the top of the food chain made when it was clear loans were being made to people with no documented income, traded around like musical chairs and the American people were left at then end without a chair when the music stopped. And then the CEOs wanted government largesse to save it. Welfare, as it were.

Good god, this is probably the most disastrous bit of PR that a high ranking exec has uttered in a long while. Although I do have to say that it’s pretty hard to top Joe Solmonese’s epic FAIL when asked by CNN’s Don Lemon about the diversity at the HRC dinner and, well, who the serious informed people are.

[P]erhaps the crowd at the dinner last night was a little bit more politically aware and had a better sense of maybe, you know, what’s at stake and what needs to be done.

These kind of craptacular statements appear to stem from either a lack of media training or, well, um, synapse misfiring and complete tunnelvision about what other message might be conveyed with that statement. Of course Lord Griffiths probably didn’t give a flying fig what you little people think anyway.

UPDATE: Two must-sees from GRITtv that addresses Lord Griffiths bullshite quite nicely. First, Laura Flanders on the Worst Foreclosure Quarter Yet and Still no Stick for Banks?

Bankers might be back to making, as one fundraiser noted in the Times piece, $1 million to $200 million a year, but hundreds of thousands of Americans are still fighting foreclosure around the country and the administration is busy fundraising.

We talk to Sarah Ludwig, co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development and Advocacy Project; Nomi Prins, author of It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street and senior fellow at Demos; Jennifer Gonnerman, New York Magazine contributor and award-winner writer of “The Last House Standing” and Heather Booth, veteran grassroots organizer of 40 years, now serving as executive director of the new coalition, Americans for Financial Reform. They tell us what’s really going on in the rest of America, the ones who aren’t invited to fancy fundraisers.

Below the fold, a clip from a documentary on poverty.GRITtv also has an excellent promo of a documentary, “The End of Poverty?”

Coming to theaters in November, The End of Poverty? takes a look at what really causes poverty (hint: it’s not people being lazy). The role of the financial system-the same one that our government just bailed out to the tune of several billion dollars-in keeping the world’s poorest people poor is exposed in detail in this haunting film directed by Phillippe Diaz and narrated by Martin Sheen.

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