It’s easy to follow the crowd, even when the crowd is wrong

I went to a fitness expo and was walking by the vendor booths, where they were giving away samples of supplements and magazines. I was walking around the side of the area, past an unmarked table that was stacked with packages of sports drinks. I saw a person reach in a package and take a bottle. Soon there was another person, and then another, and then a whole crowd of people started taking bottles. A few people even grabbed a whole package! Soon, a sale representative of the company selling the product noticed and came over to stop it.

I wanted to steal a bottle or two after I saw that there were so many people who were involved. I thought that it wasn’t really wrong since the company was planning on giving it away. I don’t feel good about my inaction, because I should have said something to prevent others from stealing.  And then I thought of my banking.

What does stealing sports drinks have to do with your bank?

The name of the bank is Goldman Sachs, and it made some really bad investments worth $1.2 billion. To try to save itself, it sold the investments to its customers and then made a $2 billion bet that the investments would crash. It didn’t tell its customers it bet against the investment.  And then the investments did, in fact, crash.  The federal government fined Goldman Sachs $550 million for fraud, and then gave it about $13 billion to keep it and its customers from going bankrupt.

As an individual, you have little power, but together, we can make a moral society

Would it have made a difference if I had said something while people were stealing the sports drinks? Possibly. There may have been too many people for my voice to have made a difference. Individual action has little power. But when that one person who speaks out becomes two people, and two becomes four, and four becomes thousands, then our actions become quite influential.  Because other people continue to use Goldman Sachs as their investment bank does not make it right.  Neither does our government allowing the bank to continue doing business. Tell three of your friends about what Goldman Sachs did to its customers and let’s ask ourselves whether we want to support a dishonest business.

I know we will make the right choice.

For details on the Goldman Sachs fraud, please go to the Rolling Stone article

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