The Oblonsky family barely has any money. Oblonsky believes the problem is that he's not getting paid enough, and so he starts scouting for a better position.
The position depends on two Ministers, and requires that Oblonsky visit them in Petersburg. While in Petersburg, Oblonsky had also promised to see Karenin about Anna's divorce.
Oblonsky sits with Karenin while Karenin reviews Oblonsky's memo about Russia's finances.
He asks Karenin to drop Pomorsky a hint that Oblonsky would be best for the post of the Committee of the Joint Agency of the Mutual Credit Balance of the Southern Railways.
After Oblonsky confesses that the chief reason he wants the post is because it carries a better salary, Karenin launches into a bit of a lecture on the excessiveness of salaries and the problem throughout the government of favoritism.
Oblonsky argues that the post is new and important, and that it must be conducted with honesty, something Karenin seems less interested in.
What follows is a small anti-Semitic segment that demonstrates, in Oblonsky's eyes, how much he has compromised his own noble birth: in begging for this post, he visited a Jewish official, Bolgarinov. Despite Oblonsky's descent from Rurik (one of the early rulers of Russia), Bolgarinov still makes him sit and wait for two hours, as though he were a commoner. He continues to feel awkward about the meeting, and it's making him feel as if he's off on the wrong foot with Karenin.