Former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag needed a job to do after leaving Washington, and unfortunately for him the only gigs available were high paying jobs for Wall Street banks. And as Orzag makes clear in remarks offered to Gabe Sherman for a New York Magazine profile he’s really upset at the way this paucity of options has left him vulnerable to criticism from people who don’t understand the difficulty of his position. All the man wanted, after all, was a challenge.
“I could have been totally comfortable doing something easy,” he told Sherman, “going back to academe or a think tank, giving speeches, having a cushy consulting thing—ironically, which would have played off my White House experience much more than what I chose to do. Or I could have done something new, which would be harder.”
You’ve got to respect that. Which is why it’s so tragic that the small matter of his multi-million dollar payday at Citi has turned a man who just wants a challenge into the subject of ire. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy solution to this problem. Just take the extra money and give it away. Hang on to the salary of an OMB director. Heck, hang on to double the salary of an OMB director and donate the rest of the cash to charity. Maybe give it to a think tank that he thinks is doing good work. Or just hand a check over to the next homeless guy he sees. Oxfam and UNICEF do good work. There are lots of options out there. And in the spirit of self-sacrifice and taking on new challenges, I’d be happy to volunteer to do some research on the subject and write up a memo.
This is all a bit tongue in cheek, but really only a bit. I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of rich banker types really do feel that all they want is job where they do rigorous, difficult, high-status work and they’re just kind of stuck being despised fatcats who people say mean things about on the Internet. So give the money up!