Monday, August 16, 2010

The New Jersey Housewife vs. Goldman Sachs

Greetings Friends,

Can I just say how much I love's Archive? It is an unparalleled wealth of cultural zeitgeist going back to their very first issue in March 1974. As a professional procrastinator, I can spend hours on it, reading the stories and looking at the pictures. At least the "People" back then were legitimate public figures, as opposed to the "stars" that dominate their pages today. Case in point: Teresa Giudice (pictured above), a "Real New Jersey" housewife and Carmela Soprano wannabe, who shopped her way to a $10.9 million bankruptcy filing, and is not the least bit shy about telling the world how she got there. 

First of all, why do I care? In the grand scheme of things, I normally get a big jolt out of hearing about this type of garden variety dysfunction. Lately, I've been trying to understand how the gang at Goldman Sachs legally managed to make billions out of sub-prime mortgage derivatives. Realistically, Goldman's behaviour mirrors the behaviour Ms. Giudice is guilty of, although she's really not hurting anyone but herself, her family and her creditors. The Goldman gang blew up the world; Ms. Giudice only took down her little corner of New Jersey. Yet, we all know about it, courtesy of Bravo, and their need to fill the cable universe with bickering, silicone inflated caricatures that are supposed to pass for "real" housewives of Orange County, New York, New Jersey, DC, Atlanta...where, oh where will it end?

I'm not suggesting Goldman Sachs is any less culpable because they set off a financial nuke within the letter of the law. They should be tried at a financial crimes tribunal, found guilty, and executed for their shameless greed. But, should the same fate befall a financially clueless spendaholic like Teresa Giudice? I'm not sure. She and her Tony Soprano-doppelganger of a husband Joe, were living fairly large on his successful business ventures, until they decided to build a 10,000 square foot mansion in some ritzy North Jersey enclave, sparing no expense on every accoutrement and amenity. This, on top of Ms. Giudice's already lavish spending habits that apparently included (according to People) in-vitro fertilization treatments, furs, clothing, shoes, and whatever else contributed to her alleged $80,000.00 in personal credit card debt. Her claim is that she does not understand finance, and her husband could not be bothered to explain it to her, because all the bills were getting paid. When the gravy train pulled into the station, their world exploded, leaving them millions in debt, and Ms. Giudice with what appears to be a severe case of shopaholic's denial. The rest of us are watching, rapt with schadenfreude, waiting to see what befalls Ms. Giudice and her family, now that most of her possessions are being auctioned off to repay creditors. Reality television audiences are snickering away while her comeuppance gets played out for their viewing pleasure. And, yet, she allows it to happen.

Here's what I'd like to see happen: Take the cameras off people like Teresa Giudice and aim them at the modern-day Wall Street robber barons, like the mooks at Goldman Sachs, et al. Stake out their mansions and yachts, and leave people like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie alone. Let them get a taste of what Hollywood has to deal with every time they go to Starbucks or grocery shopping, or attempt to enjoy a quiet holiday with their families. Really, what is it that fascinates us so? I have no desire to make a living as an actor, nor do I plan on acquiring another advanced degree so I can fully unpack the meaning behind a mortgage backed security. My rudimentary understanding of it is enough to know that none of it should have been legal in the first place. But, no use crying over spilled milk. However, I wouldn't mind seeing the Wall Street set subjected to some intense flashbulb misery above and beyond those ridiculous dog-and-pony show congressional appearances. Those are nothing but a profound waste of taxpayer time and money. Wouldn't it be thrilling to see nebbishy little Lloyd Blankfein get stalked by a pack of paparazzi like Britney Spears? Have his wife followed around while she shops away at Bergdorf's, documenting every penny she spends? 

People like Teresa Giudice bore me; she is nothing more than another unwitting architect of her own misery. Yeah, I enjoy wasting time reading about her ilk, but eventually, I have to put her aside and get on with my life. People like Lloyd Blankfein and his ilk bug the shit out of me. They exploit greed and ignorance within the letter of the law and get away with it. They're the ones who need a financial education, even though they've got diplomas on their walls documenting that they've "been there, done that". It's not enough. Send them back from whence they came, without the millions they "legally" stole, and let them see what it's like to deal with real vilification. I'll be sitting front and centre for that show. 


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