Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Pipeline

James Kwak joins a fascinating conversation begun by Ezra Klein on why so many Ivy League liberal-arts majors end up on Wall Street. They use words like "seduction" and "easy" to describe how Goldman Sachs convinces idealistic young liberals to go work for the man. Kwak says, The main pitch is, 'Do this for two years, and afterward you can do anything.' Of course, most of the recruits stay on Wall St because they can't leave the luxurious lifestyle they've strayed into.
You internalize the rationalizations for the work you are doing. It’s easier to think that underwriting new debt offerings really is saving the world than to think that you are underwriting new debt offerings, because of the money, instead of saving the world. And this goes for many walks of life. It’s easier for college professors to think that, by training the next generation of young minds (or, even more improbably, writing papers on esoteric subjects), they are changing the world than to think that they are teaching and researching instead of changing the world.
This is a particularly poignant for Christians, since we have a divine mandate to do something meaningful with our lives, not just a hunch that we ought to. If we turn our backs on self-sacrificing lifestyle choices, we're writing off far more than youthful ideals.

Hat tip to Thesus.

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