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Dispatches From the Two Americas

August 12, 2009

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein urges his employees not to engage in “conspicuous consumption” for image concerns after their “record second-quarter profit of $2.3 billion” thanks to a government bailout:

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has warned his employess to avoid making big-ticket, high-profile purchases as the gold-plated Wall Street firm hunkers down amid a firestorm of public and political anger over outsize bonus payments. . . “This is a sensitive time for us, and [Blankfein] wants to make sure that we’re not being seen living high on the hog,” said one Goldman exec.

Meanwhile, Barbara Ehrenreich describes the ordeal of Al Szekely:

A grizzled 62-year-old, he inhabits a wheelchair and is often found on G Street in Washington — the city that is ultimately responsible for the bullet he took in the spine in Fu Bai, Vietnam, in 1972. He had been enjoying the luxury of an indoor bed until last December, when the police swept through the shelter in the middle of the night looking for men with outstanding warrants.
It turned out that Mr. Szekely, who is an ordained minister and does not drink, do drugs or curse in front of ladies, did indeed have a warrant — for not appearing in court to face a charge of “criminal trespassing” (for sleeping on a sidewalk in a Washington suburb). So he was dragged out of the shelter and put in jail. “Can you imagine?” asked Eric Sheptock, the homeless advocate (himself a shelter resident) who introduced me to Mr. Szekely. “They arrested a homeless man in a shelter for being homeless.”

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