Review of The Inside Job by Charles Ferguson (2010).
Despite the fact that it’s a trite truism that Wall Street is fueled by greed and “greed makes the world – or at least the markets – go round,” it’s merely the tip of the iceberg of moral depravity and social corruption that has been exposed on Wall Street in the new documentary by Charles Ferguson.
Unlike Michael Moore’s Capitalism, A Love Story, which could be characterized as a predatory docudrama benefiting from a general lack of economic awareness in the larger populace (it feeds off of popular stereotypes about capitalism, bankers, etc.), The Inside Job is a version of the financial crisis for thinking people (as much as that’s possible on the big screen, anyway).
Worst Things You Never Knew On Wall St.
I have to admit that no new arguments or narratives were advanced in the film that I didn’t already know about. But that detracted little from the impact of the lurid details of Wall St. shenanigans and, frankly, criminal activities, that were revealed throughout many one-on-one interviews with officials who worked in the innermost circles of the US financial circuit.
The film got as far inside the casino as it could – talking directly with such insiders as Paul Volcker, Glenn Hubbard, Nouriel Roubini, Martin Feldstein and Frederic Mishkin. They tried to interview Tim Geither, Ben Bernanke, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, and others – all of whom declined.
Prostitution and Cocaine Charged To Company Accounts
The best part of the film was a surprise interview with a psychotherapist whose main clients, apparently, are Wall Streeters. He testified that he knows for a fact that the use of cocaine and prostitution is not only prevalent on Wall Street, but runs all the way up to the top at all major financial institutions – and not only that, but it is encouraged as a form of compensation for taking excessive risks (because it is risk, after all, that brings in the profits) – and not only that, but the prostitution and drug expenses were – are – usually put on company expense accounts. Many of these executives use prostitutes during the day and go home to their wives at night – and think nothing of it.
This is where your bailout money is going, folks.
Considering how large the financial sector has grown in America over the past 30 years, and given how concentrated wealth has become in America, it’s pretty safe to say that there is massive corruption in the center of the US social and economic system. People who merely blame government for their woes clearly don’t understand the nature of the problem. Americans who castigate China on human rights issues need to look in their own back yard at what is really, already happening at home.
The film also discusses the fact that much illegal, criminal activity that went on (and, likely, continues to go on) on Wall St. was never tried or prosecuted. No top executive was ever arrested, even though the case can be made that they did the work of Bernie Madoff.
Can you be charged over moral failures? Hopefully someday. Because a film like this shows how much ethics matters – through the deep social consequences that follow from the actions of people who don’t think they can or should be held accountable by anyone other than themselves for anything.
Most of these people are older white men who look as though they’ve never been criticized for anything in their life (or who’ve managed to escape all such criticism – like Richard Fuld, ex-CEO of Lehman, who had his own private elevator built so he’d never have to encounter other people on his way to and from work). It’s time their shadows catch up with them.
Shame, shame on them all. We all deserve to look upon this as America’s holocaust, in disbelief as we hear them each confess that they were not the one responsible, that they just did what they were told, that they didn’t know what was going on higher up, that it was always someone else’s fault.
And while they’ve been making off like Madoff, your grandparents lost their retirement savings, entire countries went bankrupt, and the social and economic disruption from foreclosures and foreclosure fraud continues today.
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