I'm off-work on Wednesdays. I spent the entire morning with my folks today enjoying my mother's Filipino brunch. A brunch at my parents' household always ends with coffee and my father's argumentative discussion of what he reads from the day's news. He passed The New York Times to me after my second gulp. He wanted me to read what he highlighted with a pencil, "Why I'm Leaving Goldman Sachs."
The article restored my father's belief in humanity, and he wanted me to tag along. I don't know if he has investments he has kept secret from us. His sudden interest in the financial woes and toxic values of Wall Street alarmed me. I'm not the right person to talk to about hedge funds, equity derivatives, and other finance and banking terminologies only Wall Street people use and understand. "What do you want me to say?" I asked.
As I expected, he wanted me to throw some praises for Greg Smith, the article's writer. He wanted me to condemn Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, and Capitalism. My father's early adventures with Philippine Marxism and, later, Socialism were obvious. He wanted to talk about exploitation and alienation for gains and profits. I could not dance to his music as my reading of the article was different. I found Greg Smith to be close-minded and insensitive to change.
My father listened. I reminded him how the Chinese traders in our town spent a little for a sustainable small profit and how they invest now globally after reaching their goal of becoming millionaires. Now that they have bigger capitals, they now want quick, big bucks. They don't care if middle men make huge profits off them as long as they make money by not doing anything. Greg Smith represents the middle men in my narrative.
I could not condemn the toxic culture and eroding values in American financial institutions even though I wanted to appease my father. The culture and values of investors are eroding and becoming toxic too. It is just imperative that the Greg Smiths and the Goldman Sachs of Wall Street have to go with the flow. Investors don't care about the people who are running their money. Why would they care, in return, about the investors but their money?
My sister overheard us and pitched in. "Patients nowadays don't trust doctors with small practice, those who do home visits and volunteer in community clinics. To have a clinic with modern medical facility with effective marketing in a right address means a doctor has to work and spend a lot. If my patients will see me with just my stethoscope and medical bag, I won't be in the system that thinks of profits more than patients. I have to change because my clients change."
My father got it.