Greed is an emotion as old as time. It's asking too much of human beings to expect those on Wall Street to take as detached a view of the commodity they see pass through their hands as would a manager of a power-generating station takes of kilowatt-hours.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of millions of members of the Anglican Communion, suggested that investment banking bonuses should be capped, and called on their recipients to repent, arguing that "people are somehow getting away with a culture in which the connection between the worth of what you do and the reward you get [is] obscure."
But turning bankers into individuals who look down on money may be not only impossible but undesirable-after all, the money grid's job revolves around how to make the flow of capital more profitable and efficient for [all] concerned. The key word is [all]-while bankers can't corner those profits, they shouldn't be totally disinterested.
Perhaps the appropriate strategy is to bring financial services professionals to think of their jobs in the same way that lawyers view the law, or doctors the profession of medicine.
Those groups certainly hope to earn large sums as a reward for years of education and training, but they recognize and acknowledge that their self-interest goes hand in hand with a higher public and social interest, one that is explicitly acknowledged in medicine's Hippocratic Oath and its cornerstone, the pledge to, "do no harm."
Excerpted from Chasing Goldman Sachs by Suzanne McGee (c) 2010 Suzanne McGee. Reprinted by permission of Crown Business, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.