Seth Kahan
Author, consultant

Seth Kahan

Change expert and author who has advised executives in 50-plus organizations, including Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps and NASA. He can be reached at


A worthy pursuit

Q: Goldman Sachs, the country's most successful investment bank, is under fire for helping a hedge-fund tycoon dump bad investments on unsuspecting customers and then betting against them. CEO Lloyd Blankfein says the firm did everything it was legally required to. Are ethical issues relevant as a business seeks to earn money for its investors? Does the little guy stand a chance in such an environment?

When trust is destroyed, relationships suffer. That's a cold, hard fact. Another chilling reality is that businesses often risk their least profitable relationships to win big with more advantageous clients. Apparently, for Goldman Sachs, this means accepting collateral damage among unsuspecting investors.

This is why the government is stepping in.

Sophisticated investors making a profit at the expense of those less knowledgeable is not news. But, doing so and contributing to our 2009 national meltdown is.

With individual investors unable to police the activity of behemoths like Goldman Sachs, and impotent to act in the face of being fleeced, the U.S. government has taken on Goliaths such as Goldman Sachs.

This is important not just because what was done was unethical, even if it is within the letter of the law. It is critical because the American people must have confidence in their financial institutions in order for our country to continue to grow and prosper, maintaining its role and effectiveness on the world stage. Faith plays a bigger role than many would like to acknowledge. But, the government is hip to it.

The little guy will stand a chance in this case, only because the little guys' representatives in Washington are taking a stand. In the best case, this is what government does well.

Of course, it's too early to know how all this will play out. But it sure is a worthy pursuit to witness. Once again, we are on the cusp of history made visible. An enviable position in a global theater. This is the kind of thing that puts the USA out in front of so many other nations: a place where power changes hands without violence or recrimination, and where the little guy is cared for by the mightiest offices in the land.

By Seth Kahan  |  May 3, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  winners and losers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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