(RNS) The head of the National Council of Churches is challenging investment giant Goldman Sachs to use half of its $20 billion bonus pool to help rebuild Haiti after its devastating earthquake.
Haiti’s entire gross domestic product (the basic measure of a country’s overall economic output) is $8.5 billion, which is less than half of Goldman Sachs’ bonus pool. The government’s bail-out in 2009 left Wall Street’s biggest name with a contentious amount of money.
Last September, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said, “Compensation continues to generate controversy and anger. In many respects, much of it is understandable and appropriate.”
In light of the dire need in Haiti, the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and George Hunsinger, professor of systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, urge Goldman Sachs to donate half of its bonuses to Haitian relief.
Kinnamon and Hunsinger said in a statement that by doing this, “They will outmatch the Haitian GDP, and improve not only their image but their tax liability… and surpass the $100 million that President Obama has pledged to Haiti, by a monumental factor of 100.”
In Haiti, hundreds of thousands are feared dead while 1.5 million are homeless, and experts say these figures are only going to worsen without a major intervention.
“Relief for Haiti needs to come in the form of grants, not loans,”
said Kinnamon and Hunsinger. “The last thing this stricken nation needs is more debt.”
According to a report from The Center for International Policy, cited by Kinnamon and Hunsinger, Haiti spent $57.4 million on foreign debt in 2003, compared to receiving just $39.2 million in foreign assistance for education, health care and other services.
Haiti needs grants and $10 billion — or even $8 billion, which is half of Goldman Sachs’ recently scaled-down bonuses — could make the difference.
“A golden opportunity is knocking for Goldman Sachs,” Kinnamon and Hunsinger said.
— Kimberlee Hauss