The Amazing, Versatile and Unethical Goldman Sachs Code of Ethics

Perhaps we all owe Goldman Sachs an apology. Everyone heaped outrage and ridicule the April spectacle of its executives going before the U.S. Senate and asserting under oath that they saw nothing at all unethical about intentionally selling “crappy” investment products to their trusting customers, then making money for their own firm by betting that the products would fail. Many were reminded of the tobacco executives, in the famous AP photo, all raising their hands to swear that they did not believe nicotine was addictive. After all, Goldman Sachs’s own website pledged openness, honesty, trustworthiness and integrity, saying,

“A critical part of running the marathon is acting consistently and playing a fair and honest game. ‘There’s only one thing we sell, and that’s trust.’ This applies to anything, but nowhere more than Investment Management. Clients trust us to do the right thing, and particularly when you’re in investment management and you’re appointed to manage clients’ money, they trust that you’re going to do it in a prudent manner. The worst thing you could do is breach that trust. We look for people who want to run the marathon, and who understand that trust fuels it.”

Now it seems that we were lacking a crucial document: the firm’s internal Code of Ethics, which Goldman Sachs recently made public. Under the provisions of this remarkable Code, what Goldman Sachs did to its clients wasn’t unethical at all; deceptive, conflicted, and unfair, yes…but not unethical, in the sense that it didn’t violate the Ethics Code itself. “Impossible!” you say? Ah, you underestimate the firm’s cleverness. Continue reading

Comedy Central’s Unethical Self-Censorship

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

—–Evelyn Beatrice Hall (describing Voltaire’s attitude toward freedom of speech.)

“We will defend to the death your right to say anything to get a laugh, unless you are threatened by religious zealots and terrorists, in which case we will fold like Bart Stupak in an origami competition.”

—–Ethics Alarms (describing Comedy Central’s attitude toward freedom of speech.)

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