Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer John Varley stood at the wooden lectern in St. Martin-in-the- Fields on London’s Trafalgar Square last night and told the packed pews of the church that “profit is not satanic.”
The 53-year-old head of Britain’s second-biggest bank said banks are the “backbone” of the economy. Rewarding high- performing bankers with more pay doesn’t conflict with Christian values, he said. Varley was paid 1.08 million pounds ($1.77 million) and no bonus in 2008.
“Talent is highly mobile,” Varley, a Catholic, said. “If we fail to pay or are constrained from paying competitive rates then that talent will move to another employer.”
“Is Christianity and banking compatible? Yes,” he said in an interview after the speech in the 283-year-old church. “And is Christianity and fair reward compatible? Yes.”
I’m no Bible scholar, but I seem to recall something about Jesus asserting that the love of money is the root of all evil. Seems to me that what the banks have been engaging in — y’know, snookering people into signing mortgages they can’t afford and bankrupting entire countries, reaping huge profits all the while — isn’t too Christ-like.
Nor is thinking they’re so very important that they need to be innoculated against H1N1 before, say, less wealthy pregnant women or financially deprived schoolchildren:
While thousands of at-risk Americans wait, some big Wall Street banks have already secured the hard-to-find H1N1 vaccine for their employees.
Building on a story that BusinessWeek broke, NBC reports that employees at the New York Stock Exchange, bankers at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and employees at the Federal Reserve have all received swine flu vaccine doses to administer to their employees.
In particular, NBC reports that Goldman Sachs has received 200 doses of the vaccine — the same amount as Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Wall Street banks, like many other companies, put in requests for the vaccine but seem to have had something of a leg up on securing doses.
Imagine that! Banks getting a leg up on everyone else. No one could have seen THAT coming.
So what’s the moral of this story? Simple. If someone asks if you’re a god, just say: “Even better. I’m a banker.”