Saturday, March 15, 2014

Trampling the Needy, & Protecting the Greedy

Margin Call (2011) Poster

Margin Call is a really thoughtful, well-made movie from 2011. It stars Kevin Spacey, and Jeremy Irons, and Zachary Quinto (the new Spock) along with a strong bunch of other actors. Some have called it the best Wall Street movie ever made, but I don't think a lot of people saw it, unfortunately.

It points out the potential for colossal greed, very much along the lines of the economic collapse of just a few years ago. Jeremy Irons essentially plays the devil, a calm, oily justifier of corruption as the way the world works. He frames the greed of his ilk as a correction, almost a favour to the markets. He is the firm's CEO, and while others are panicking or feeling queasy about their blatant manipulation of investments he is placid.

I thought about this film when I read in the Toronto Star that not one CEO from the 2008 economic meltdown has gone to jail or paid a significant personal price for their part in this mess. Despite the loss of more than eight million jobs in North America (400,000 in Canada), about 13 trillion dollars in bailouts, and hundreds of thousands losing their homes, these execs have artfully dodged prosecution. Some of their firms have been hit with fines in the billions, but since these are investment companies, guess who ultimately pays for their transgressions?

Inside Job is a documentary on the same subject and I blogged about it after I saw it on a flight back from the States. It made my blood boil to see the collusion between these firms and those who were supposed to police them or set economic policy.

It is amazing that 1800 years ago a biblical prophet such as Amos proclaimed God's deep offense at the greed of the wealthy:

Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
   and bring to ruin the poor of the land,

   and the needy for a pair of sandals,
   and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds...

God doesn't forget, but we seem to in a hurry.

Any thoughts about these films? Did you see the newspaper article? Other comments?


colinm said...

The stock market has become a blood sport and betting shop. People earn more money betting on the success or failure of enterprises than investing in their potential. Hedge funds, that thrive on these bets, force companies ti break up or move to other locations in order to justify their forecasts. However, ordinary people have no control or oversight of these actions and so the game continues. It is the beginning of the new feudalism.

Judy Mcknight said...

So, keeping your funds under the mattress may still be a good option????