Saturday, February 4, 2017

Little Balls

I don’t feel like writing about Trump. At some point I’ll rant about him with acid fury and gusto, like everyone else with a forebrain and a decent respect for the opinions of mankind must do (good people must speak up and bear witness against this embarrassing monstrosity, this ludicrous avatar of the Emperor Commodus with a Twitter account), but for now let others record the crimes and follies of his misrule. Today, I’m just going to be lazy and recycle a post from April 2011, in which I take aim at two things I love to scorn and revile: Wall Street bankers and golf. It’s an imaginary conversation between Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his counterpart at JP Morgan Chase Jamie Dimon while they’re out on the links. If you’ve already read it, relive the magic. If you haven’t, enjoy it for the first time. Here it is:

Last night, I dreamed I was Lloyd Blankfein’s caddy. He was playing golf with Jamie Dimon, and the two were discussing how difficult it was to be rich bankers in a hostile and uncomprehending world:

“You know, Jamie, after a hard day of doing God’s work, I need to come out and put a little ball into a little hole.”

“Me too!” Jamie exclaimed. “Especially nowadays, when the whole world hates us no matter how much good we do. It’s so frustrating.”

“Sometimes putting a little ball into a little hole is the only thing that takes the hurt away.”

“I know, right?”

“Say, do you wanna keep on hitting little balls together, Jamie?”


“People think that just because we’re rich we’ve got it made. That’s why they hate us. They think that once you become a billionaire all the problems in your life just melt away. It isn’t so. Money doesn’t solve everything. Don’t people understand that? Don’t the poor know there’s more to life than money?”

“Apparently not. They lack higher understanding. For example, I went on CNBC once and tried to explain that when banks foreclosed on their homes it was actually good for them because it’s such an excellent form of debt relief. For some people, it’s almost a hundred percent debt reduction.

“God’s work, actually.” Lloyd interjected.

“Exactly. But did anyone get it? No. The people are so obsessed with their little homes and their little savings that they lose sight of the big picture. They can’t see what’s in their own best interest.”

“Or appreciate the finer things in life, like putting little balls into little holes.”

“Precisely. It’s like they have some some kind of neurosis.”

“A clinical illness. It almost makes you feel sorry for them.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, Lloyd.”

“Oh, silly me. Sometimes when I’m putting little balls into little holes I get all giddy and lose my head.”

“No worries. It happens to the best of us.”

“Hey, Jamie, wanna have a little fun? Let’s call the president and tell him that if the US doesn’t bomb Nova Scotia the markets will get spooked and collapse. I’ll bet you a hundred thousand dollars he does it.”

“Where’s the challenge in that bet? Of course he would. They always do what we say. Sigh. If only all of my employees were as obedient as presidents.”

“If only. But you’re right. It’s just that ever since I became a master of the universe things have gotten so, well, boring. I mean, after you’ve crashed the world economy and utterly destroyed hundreds of millions of lives, what’s left to accomplish? Where are all the thrills? For the life of me, I can only imagine one: putting little balls into little holes.”

“Me too! It shows how highly evolved we are, Lloyd.”

“I’m so glad someone understands.”

Games played with the ball, and others of that nature … stamp no character on the mind. — Thomas Jefferson.

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