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Nov. 30 2009 - 11:23 pm | 378 views | 4 recommendations | 83 comments

Goldman Sachs Arms Itself

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) — “I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

via Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public: Alice Schroeder – Bloomberg.com.

I’m reading this article on Goldman executives applying en masse for gun permits and I’m trying to decide exactly how funny it is on a scale of 1 to 10. Reader assistance here is definitely appreciated.

On the unfunny side: it’s never good when anyone buys guns, particularly not rich weenies with persecution complexes. Also, it might possibly be true that people have threatened Goldman bankers physically, which would really not be all that funny and would make me personally feel somewhat uncomfortable, although it would probably never be very high on the list of things I have to lose sleep over.

On the funny side, there are several things to consider. There’s the image of Goldman guys walking into Dean and DeLuca’s nervously grabbing at their holstered nines as they buy espresso and soy waffles. There’s the idea that some of these dorks might actually think that they’re going to forestall proletarian rebellion by keeping guns in their Hamptons beach houses. There’s even the impossible-to-resist image of a future accidental shooting of some innocent hot dog vendor on Park Avenue, followed by the inevitable p.r. response from Goldman in which the bank claims that the only thing its employees are guilty of is “being really good at shooting people.”

Certainly, there are things to ponder on both sides. Right now I’m leaning toward making this a seven on the funny scale, trending toward eight. Advice more than welcome.


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  1. collapse expand

    Eek, when my hedge funder cousin told me to invest in gold, guns, and canned goods, I thought he was only serious about the gold part.

  2. collapse expand


    I don’t think Goldman Sachs employees really have much to worry about. They’re too rich and powerful, and therefor too adored by the very people they screw. As you once pointed out, “the peasant mentality lives on in America.”

  3. collapse expand

    They have nothing to worry about. The Teabaggers don’t care about banks and their massive profits; they are too worried about Acorn getting that fat $3 million in funding.

  4. collapse expand

    I think the GS people are thinking about the Col Sherburn scene in “Huckleberry Finn”. They can imagine themselves facing down an angry mob with a single weapon and delivering a withering speech that sends the crowd home, tail between their legs. I imagine the actual circumstances as:
    A rich douchebag with a pistol, tag still on it, lecturing a slavering mob about how he’s only doing God’s work. I would rate the comedy of that scene as a 10, 11 if the crowd has been drinking.

  5. collapse expand

    a) People who up n’ “arm themselves” are overwhelmingly going to do far more damage to themselves more than anyone else

    b) They should really be worrying far more about hackers and other information based attacks than anyone physically storming the bank or assaulting them.

    I mean, haven’t these jokers ever watched _Trading Places_?

    “You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people”

    Just sayin’

  6. collapse expand

    someone should point out to them that four police officers – all armed and all trained to use guns – were killed in a cafe last weekend. Those guns are not going to make a damn bit of difference, unless they accidentally shoot themselves.

  7. collapse expand

    I really want this to be very, very funny but I’m only thinking around four on this.

    It’s like a meth addict noticing a loose tooth and stocking up on fluoride rather than, you know, not smoking meth. It’s more sad than funny.

    The most humorous image I can conjure is a bunch of Savile Row tailors drooling over the prospect of massively expensive custom alterations. After all, a holstered antique M1911 will seriously fuck up the cut of even the highest quality unaltered suit.

    Frankly, this might help explain the recent price curves on ammo. Leave it to Goldman to feed the Bullet Bubble.

  8. collapse expand

    Well it they do get arrested for shooting someone at least they know they’ll get bailed out.

  9. collapse expand

    My initial thought on reading the blurb was 7/10, primarily because, like you said, there’s a serious side to the threat, but their paranoia is still funny.

    But then I thought about it and changed it to a 9/10, just because they thought about getting guns before thinking about not being overpaid, con artist douche bags. Which is the better self-defense?

    Now, if they were dealing with Rorschach, that’s another story…

  10. collapse expand

    I’m kind of annoyed by the amount of anti-gun comments here, and the anti-gun sentiment in the article and blog post. Depending upon whose statistics you believe, guns prevent anywhere from 7-800,000 to 2.5 million crimes per year. I don’t think the guys who want to go get a pistol really think they’re going to prevent some revolution, they’re worried about some crazy guy coming after them and their families. And statistically, the police are more likely to shoot that hot-dog guy than someone who is licensed to carry.

  11. collapse expand

    to me it’s admission of guilt. So it wasn’t reckless econocide, it was murder and therefor a zero on the funny scale.

  12. collapse expand

    How long til the ole’ ‘I was only following orders’ excuse is used by bank execs? History is a funny thing: Marx figured Great Britain as the best candidate for a revolution by Mr. & Mrs. Proletariat, but instead that particular ball wound up in the Czar’s court. My bet is that the big financial firms, regulators and politicans all figure that if a revolution starts at 7pm, it’ll be suspended by 8 because American Idol is on. And they’re probably right. So long as the chips, beer and shallow, vacuous entertainment keeps on coming (“You will obey me while I lead you, eat the garbage that I feed you, don’t call for help, no one will heed you…”) there will be no revolution. The old comic ‘The Wizard of Id’ said it best…when the cry went up ‘The Peasants are Revolting’ the King merely replied ‘You can say that again.’

  13. collapse expand

    At least they’re not packing golf clubs. Now that would be dangerous.

  14. collapse expand

    Seems like an exercise in futility. What good are some pea-shooters going to do for the Goldman Sachs banksters when the mob is coming after them with AK-47’s and molotov cocktails?

  15. collapse expand

    I’d say 9 on the ha-ha scale. Maybe there was a memo advising the hedgehogs that their Blackwater…excuse me, Xe body guards were… “projecting an image of vulnerability in a time when we must exude corporate confidence. With that in mind all GS personnel are now required to provide for their own security.”

    And we all no that the only people cheaper than billionaires are millionaires.
    Dollars to donuts the vast majority of firearms recently purchased will wind up in the mouths of the buyers with their manicured fingers on the triggers…
    I like to picture hedgehogs watching Mr. Smith goes to Washington in their 200-seat residential Imax theater and blowing their brains out during the filibuster scene.
    But Steve’s right. They’re adored. Americans love gangsters, liars and charasmatic anti-intellectuals.

  16. collapse expand

    Not even remotely funny to my way of thinking. Guaranteed, one of these bastards will feel the need to use his (or her) new toy and another ordinary joe will pay the price.

  17. collapse expand

    Why don’t those Executive pukes use their bonus money and hire body guards. It would have a hidden benefit of adding jobs and Golden sacks can promote it for their next public relations promo. I hope they know which way to point the barrel I wouldn’t want them to hurt themselves after all they are the job creators.

  18. collapse expand

    What’s really scary is their belief that they are in the right and, therefore, entitled to defend themselves against the unwashed masses. Perhaps if they actually did the right thing–like, you know, give the money back to the government they owe and maybe put a cap on those outrageous bonuses–they wouldn’t have to feel so afraid.

  19. collapse expand

    I’m leaning towards not that funny at all, maybe a 3 or 4, because it points to such a deranged view of reality that is so true and unwavering that it’s really dangerous. We’re dealing with monsters, they have the attitude of spoiled ten-year-olds, they pull the strings of government, and now they are walking around with guns they probably don’t know how to use because they’ve suddenly discovered that they aren’t very popular.

  20. collapse expand

    Think about the scenario they are imagining and preparing for. It’s amusing that these bankers think they can protect themselves with a gun. It’s less amusing that they believe their money backed by the threat of force will make them safer. They are preemptively escalating their situation to include violence while sending their popularity deeper into the gutter. Their level of self delusion and desperation is teetering on the thin line between funny and tragic.

  21. collapse expand

    “You’ve got to ask yourself one question:
    ‘Do I feel lucky?’
    Well, do ya punk?”

  22. collapse expand

    I’d say it’s a nine, close to a ten. If people ever did get mad enough to descend on GS, I’m picturing one of these smooth-palmed bankers hunkered underneath their desks like that guy in the bathroom in Pulp Fiction when Jules and Vince go to get Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase back. They’re waiting for the right moment, when they can see the whites of the angry mob’s eyes, and then they pop up and unload only to miss everyone completely. Then they’re overtaken as the people swarm over them like ants around a piece of candy dropped on the sidewalk. Just a personal fantasy.

  23. collapse expand

    Imagine a Brooks Brothers-clad gunsel confronting an unsuspecting beachcomber, drawing a bead and uttering: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya punk?”

    More likely, the moneychanger will pull a Woody Allen and quaveringly declare: “Stop right there! I’ve got a gub!”

    Can it be long before Blackwater’s stormtroopers are bivouaced on West Street?

    Commenters here should be under no illusions. Goldman has a dossier on you. It’s security mavens know who you are, where you live, what you drive, what web sites you peruse and, most important, what you owe.

    Jason Bourne is in your alley, right now….

  24. collapse expand

    A reality TV show pitting famous defenders of their wealth against one another might be fun. Counterstrike style, but with LA Korean grocery owners fighting against Goldman Sachs employees. Or maybe they each play against a marauding horde of the unwashed masses to see who scores better in the end. If the poors win they get health coverage for a year ($5,000 deductible, no vision and dental) and a free 401K consultation. If the defenders of wealth win, they get jus primae noctis on their choice of the poors.

    So many groups to go through. White Rhodesians would be really tough to beat. I’d be rooting for the Korean grocery owners personally.

  25. collapse expand

    Alas for their sense of drama, I don’t think anybody can actually spot a regulator-manipulating banker as distinct from any other overdressed person.

    The notion of out-of-work or evicted proles scheming to shoot G/S staff in revenge is awfully far-fetched. Anybody with the brains to identify, find and stalk a stranger in another city has the brains to understand that G/S is the poster child for a systemic problem, not a cartoon villain that tied their 401K to the tracks.

    There will be much violence come of this economic catastrophe, of course. But the G/S staff can sleep soundly, knowing that, as a rule, only wives and offspring will be beaten (and occasionally shot) by their enraged and despairing victims.

  26. collapse expand

    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

    How about Moscow, after the fall. Afghanistan quagmire, armed populace. The oligarchs at Dean and Deluca, with glock.

    It is funny, and sad, and thanks for your writing which makes it better for me.

  27. collapse expand

    I enjoyed Matt’s colorful portrayal of these scumbags as Minskys cartoon characters. Not bad at all. But what baffles me is how there have been no incidents like the ones they’re (ostensibly) fearing. Not all regular joes who’ve been destroyed by Wall Street’s (and their own) greed and vanity are sitting in front of American Idol, simply because they don’t even have a TV anymore. For the life of me I don’t understand why some poor bastard who’s just lost job, wife, kids and home and has nothing left to lose hasn’t popped one of these fucks.

  28. collapse expand

    expat: 8/10
    cwulf: 5/10
    the Bloomberg article: 1/10 – only because it made me grin to see that GS employees are contributing the economy. Grin followed by eye roll %

  29. collapse expand

    Definitely an 8/10 Matt.

    …and i find it kind of ironic, or maybe it points to some subconscious guilt on the part of Goldmanites? Not sure, but Obama said it was the poor who are clinging to Guns and Religion. But now with pronouncements from Lloyd “God’s Work” and then this? Are they trying to blend in with the villagers coming to skin them?

    too fucking funny…

  30. collapse expand

    I think it’s a ten in the funny department, and it underscores how badly they underestimate the public’s anger. Between this, the flu shots, and “God’s work” Blankenfein, Matt, you could not have found an enemy with a worse PR department.

    To me, the funny part is why these assholes think they need to arm themselves when they own the government anyway. Can you imagine the government response if a mob ever attacked Goldman or a Goldman employee?

    I half expect Blankenfein to request that the government provide his employees secret service agents.

  31. collapse expand

    Hmmmm….? I guest they’ve never heard of remote car starters???

  32. collapse expand

    I would be interested to know what has actually happened, that the senior executives feel sufficiently threatened to buy guns. They’ve received nasty looks? Sarcasm? Someone in New York City threw the first stone and the report of the incident went viral? “Arm yourselves! The peasants are revolting!” I’m a little surprised they’d be willing to do the dirty work of self-protection. NYC is crawling with security people – hire someone!
    On the funny scale, I give it a seven.

  33. collapse expand

    1. Turning into a forum on guns.
    2. The urban respondents have contempt for anything to do with the things. Only armed urbanites are cops and gangbangers.
    3. Guns are still tools of husbandry and folks close to the land (or closer) feel comfortable about them.
    4. We’re talking hicks here and the traditional and accurate urban condescension towards their unsophisticated country cousins.
    5. #’s 3 and 4 are over done and boring.
    6. The notion of the Wall Street elite with metaphorical manure on their bespoke shoes is mildly funny. Think that’s where you were heading.
    7. Stick to reporting. The humor will either take care of itself or not.
    V/R JWest

  34. collapse expand

    This isn’t funny at all, it’s depressing. It seems to me you’d have to be pretty removed from reality, and thinking of all this mess as screenplay fodder or other such abstractions, to find much humor in it. The cost/benefit analysis is pretty bleak here. If I saw anyone laughing on the day a GS employee killed someone else or himself, or vice versa, I might have to pay a team of competition eaters to fart on them.

  35. collapse expand

    It has occurred to me what fun it would be to organize a group of about 50 people who would regularly stop by Goldman Sachs’ headquarters, step into the revolving door and pee. A couple times each morning and a couple times each afternoon. With enough frequency that they couldn’t keep up with it. When they were forced to impose more security and barricade the entrance, we would simply pee on the barricades. I just like the symbolism and the prospect of headlines like: IN TURNABOUT, GOLDMAN SACHS COMPLAINS THAT TAXPAYERS ARE PISSING ALL OVER IT.

  36. collapse expand

    5. At first I thought it was very funny, but then I thought, “yes, but something terrible will surely happen, with that number of armed, frightened bankers wandering around with ‘Death Wish’ fantasies.”

    But then the number went up again, as I fondly recalled reading “Bonfire of the Vanities” in my adolescence. Whatever bad things happen, the ensuing show trial – with its attendant opportunistic grandstanding from all over New York’s already-hilariously dysfunctional political scene – is sure to be funny. That said, to reach that comedic fever pitch, someone’s going to have to die, or get injured pretty badly. So the number came down once again.

  37. collapse expand

    I’m surprised they didn’t just buy one gun, and then find a way for all 22,425 of their employees to claim ownership of it, eventually writing off the purchase of 22,425 guns and sticking the taxpayers with the bill.

    Also, I would give the story a 9 for comedy, but if any of them actually get killed, I’ll bump it to a 10.

  38. collapse expand

    Investment bankers packing heat? Worried that they may encounter violence because of a back lash to news stories about their unethical business dealings, receipt of bailouts and immediate return to decadent compensation?

    This is a 10. Hilarious. Nothing is funny about actual violence of course, or even the credible threat of violence.

    Consider this: it’s plenty understood by the general public that if you’re a guy who ends up in prison and prefers not to fight to the death, you stand a good chance of being homosexually raped. That supposed fact also makes for frequent comedy in many sit-coms and police dramas.

    The possibility of anyone’s ass being violated (especially mine) as a result of an unrelated interaction with law enforcement isn’t funny to me at all- but hey, that’s just me.

    So I find it funny that some douche-bag who makes his living solely by siphoning off incremental portions of large speculative financial transactions is worried that guys like me might come after them. It’s at least as funny to me as lots of other people find prison rape.

    You see folks like me have worked our asses off making, building, fixing or otherwise producing things for people our whole lives and not only have we been getting paid through a bean blower for ten years or more while these Goldman Sachs leeches have partied, our pensions, health care funds and retirement savings have just been nuked backwards 10 years.

    What’s the first thing to happen when the direction of the economy changes just a butt hair toward the positive? Watch these unscrupulous fuckers give themselves big raises.

    I picture these lily white handed, blue blooded cry babies flinching whenever a plumber reaches in his toolbox for a wrench, or the air conditioning guy calls him down to the basement. The bankers are now buying guns to potentially shoot these people should they feel endangered.

    It’s kind of funny (in a tragic sort of way) because you can’t try, convict and execute these assholes, even when you catch one red handed. And I don’t think guys like Jeff Skilling will be horny enough to tap Bernie Madoff at the minimum security, white collar crime type jails these guys go to – and even if he was, that’s not funny.

  39. collapse expand

    You’re all missing the opportunity to vilify GS for the inevitable boost this will give to the real economy… the real economy.

    Bankers don’t buy prole guns from Artie’s Gun-Shack-and-Stripper-Pole in East Peoria, they buy a $1200 Swiss Sig/Sauer 226R-SSE Elite in .357.

    The investment strategy is called “Plutonomy,” and Taibbi has gone to great lengths to explain it in the past.

  40. collapse expand

    I think that the danger of these clowns actually using a gun without shooting themselves in the nuts is fairly slim.

  41. collapse expand

    “If they’ve done nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about”…uh…but then, if they’re buying guns they must have a guilty conscience…but…uh…Goldman doesn’t have a conscience. hmmmm tsk tsk
    Clinging to “doing God’s work and guns” sure fire way to succeed when all about you are falling fast?
    Give that gun to the chairman, so he can continue shooting himself in the foot.
    What a company…there aren’t words to describe them.

  42. collapse expand

    “If they’ve done nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about”…uh…but then, if they’re buying guns they must have a guilty conscience…but…uh…Goldman doesn’t have a conscience. hmmmm tsk tsk
    Clinging to “doing God’s work and guns” sure fire way to succeed when all about you are falling fast?
    Give that gun to the chairman, so he can continue shooting himself in the foot.
    What a company…there aren’t allowable words to describe them.

  43. collapse expand

    It is very funny and reminds me of the fear among Glenn Beck’s fans, his female fans in particular, for his personal safety, like some gaunt, tofu-fed Marxist commune-dweller has begun taking iron supplements so that in four months he’ll be able to pick up a gun. Losers.

  44. collapse expand

    I can’t believe that no-one has used
    “The man with the Goldman gun” in this story somewhere.

  45. collapse expand

    It’s a little sad for the average person to know that someone else, no matter how much of an asshole they surely are, is under enough stress and anxiety to feel like they need a weapon. And that’s what separates the assholes at Goldman from the average person, GS doesn’t give a rats ass if anyone else is under stress and anxiety even when they cause it.

  46. collapse expand

    Isn’t it possible Goldman is going to aim those guns at themselves? Just think of it. Goldman people are bereft of such insignificant things such as Christ, conscience and country. The only thing that matters to them is money. And right now Goldman stands to lose THE most staggering source of money in its future – the ‘carbon credit’ bonanza. Obama, hand across his little ole heart, promised it to them with Cap and Trade. It would have brought in so many billions that the mortgage scam would have looked puny in comparison.

    But what just happened? A Russian hacker blew that all up by exposing memos and docs that reveal ‘global warming’ to be a hoax – bodies are falling. They’ve already kicked the head of CRU to the curb and now the UN’s IPCC nuts are in the cracker. Any day now, Al’s larded butt will be fed to those hungry polar bears he claims to be so concerned about. Everyone’s losing their reputations – but Goldman’s losing something worse. Money.

    Just think about it. That mansion in Oyster Bay, that Mercedes SLK Class, the private jet, the mistress you planned to buy and bonk before going home to the wife, etc. Gone, all gone. And that has to shake Goldman. I mean, if you believe in nothing but money, than losing the biggest source of graft money you’ve ever dreamed of just might make your little fingers reach for the gun.

    If that’s the case, I insist those idiots use a Walther PPK 7.65 mm. If it was good enough for Hitler, it is definitely good enough for Blankfein.

  47. collapse expand

    RE:On the unfunny side: it’s never good when anyone buys guns, particularly not rich weenies with persecution complexes.

    We would still be british if we didn’t buy guns…and have those oppressive british empire taxes…we fought to get away from….

  48. collapse expand

    A handgun wouldn’t do any good against a mass uprising, but could help against a (pick one) deranged homicidal maniac on a shooting spree/ informed, politically aware citizen.

    The cynical side of me thinks they have it coming. The really cynical side of me thinks it’s a waste of ammo; the dead bankers would be replaced within hours to no overall effect. I haven’t heard from my idealistic side in a while.

  49. collapse expand

    matt you are such a leftwing pussy. you have really drunk the leftwing kool-aid.

    i look forward to your blog posts and make sure to read every one of them. would love to have beers with you and engage in lively debate…but we would definitely disagree on this subject.

    i recognize property crimes are on a different level from crimes of violence…but what the vampire squid fucks did to 300 million americans easily crosses the line into a territory where punishments should be along the lines of punishments typically reserved for rape and murder.

    i know the US is a nation of laws, but there is also something called the “spirit” of the law, we used to hang a horsethief. GS stole a lotta horses.

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