THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Lloyd Blankfein Has A Reality Problem

Lloyd Blankfein seems to think his company has an image problem.

He's been on a worldwide PR tour these past few weeks to let everyone know what a great corporation Goldman Sachs is. He told one newspaper that Goldman Sachs does "God's work." This week, he even apologized for his company's role in collapsing our economy.

But Lloyd Blankfein doesn't get it. If he really wants to change Goldman Sachs' image, he's got to change reality.

The reality is, Goldman Sachs continues to profit off the home foreclosure of families who are struggling to make ends meet.

The reality is, Lloyd Blankfein and his fellow executives continue rewarding themselves for their bad behavior - setting aside $16.7 billion in compensation and bonuses in the first nine months of 2009 alone.

The reality is, Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs continue to engage in the same risky behaviors the drove us to financial collapse.

So, when Lloyd Blankfein issues his press release saying Goldman Sachs has suddenly seen the light - they're suddenly making a commitment to small businesses with a $500 million donation over the next five years - my response is simple: get real.

Forget the fact that $500 million is less than 1% of what Goldman Sachs got in taxpayer-funded assistance; or that the annual cost of the program -- $100 million per year -- is about the same as one good day of trading. What's really jarring about their latest PR stunt is that it doesn't even begin to change the reality of the serious damage Goldman has done to American small business.

If Lloyd Blankfein really wants to know why he has an "image problem," he should leave his corner office at 85 Broad St. in Manhattan and head up to 184 W 237th St. in the Bronx. That's where 150 employees baked cookies at the Stella D'Oro factory for more than 80 years until it closed last month.

The family-owned business was profitable. It provided good, middle class jobs with health care coverage for its workers. But, when it was bought up by a company owned in part by Goldman Sachs this year, the decision was made to close the factory and consolidate operations. The employees tried on multiple occasions to meet with Mr. Blankfein - to show him the damage he was doing to their already struggling community.

He didn't listen. And, last month, 150 workers were locked out of the bakery that had become a central part of their lives. All so Goldman Sachs could shave a few points off the bottom line.

Mr. Blankfein, if you want to clean up your image, clean up your act. Start with the Stella D'Oro workers that you helped to put on the street in New York.

Lloyd Blankfein may not take my advice, but he can't ignore all of us.We"re asking taxpayers to call Goldman Sachs and tell them that, if they really want to show a commitment to small businesses, they should start with the Stella D'Oro factory in the Bronx.

For too long, Lloyd Blankfein has been playing by the Goldman Rule: those who have the gold make the rules. And it's the taxpayers - the very people funding his game - who end up losing.

Already, thousands of people in Chicago and Washington, DC have gathered together to send the message that we're not standing for it anymore. And we'll keep gathering, and keep speaking out until Mr. Blankfein and every Wall Street executive gets our message: it's time to start putting country over company.

That's an image the American people could get behind.