Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“It’s a Wall Street government.”

Our criminal justice system has two extremes.  On one end of the spectrum, we imprison people for decades for using marijuana or having consensual sex with their fellow teenagers.  On the other end of the spectrum, we turn the other way for the really harmful stuff.  For example, despite the blatant fraud and the trillions of dollars in public losses, those responsible for the recent financial meltdown were never prosecuted and rarely even investigated; instead, some of them walked away with hundreds of millions in bonuses while we bailed out their companies.  And that’s what the documentary Inside Job is all about.

Inside Job explores the recent financial meltdown and exposes the perverse incentive programs, blatant conflicts of interest, and unparalleled fraud that set it all in motion.  And, refreshingly, this documentary doesn’t take political sides.  Sure, a lot of the problems were cooked up under Bush, Jr.’s watch, but some of it started as early as Clinton, and Obama has done nothing but continue the status quo.  In fact, despite his tough talk, Obama has refused to regulate these dangerous, egomaniacal children on Wall Street and has even rehired some of the same hacks whose policies caused the meltdown in the first place.  That’s right: the same incompetents who were responsible for the crisis then got to engineer the bailouts, and then got to spend trillions of our money in failed stimulus programs to try and revive the economy they killed.  Where’s California’s “three strikes” law when you really need it? 

But in addition to exposing the politicians, government economists, Wall Street executives, and ratings agencies that drove us into unprecedented chaos, Inside Job exposes another villain: Ivy League business and economics professors.  Many of these profs were highly paid tools of special interest groups, and therefore played their own special role in the meltdown.  Interestingly, some of these academics are still so hungry for attention that they foolishly agreed to be interviewed by the filmmakers.  When confronted with the simplest of questions, these Ivy Leaguers stammered, stuttered, stumbled, and even shut-down right in front of the camera.  This is the stuff that great documentaries are made of.   

Inside Job is the best documentary—and possibly the best film—that I’ve ever seen.  Although it doesn’t do the film justice, you can watch the trailer here.  The DVD can be purchased here.  Just don’t watch it too close to bedtime; the LA Times is right when it says the film will leave you “boiling with rage.”


  1. Cathy RitterbuschJuly 20, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    I watched it earlier this year. Here is why the American people put up with this crap. Most Americans are fat and happy -- or at least well fed, have cable TV and can buy some stuff beyond true necessities. Those that aren't getting basic needs met have been systematically deprived of the time, resources or education needed to access political power. As long as that continues to be the case, there will be no real change. The other problem is people like me: we like to yell and scream but won't run for office because it would be hard and involve a lot of sacrifices. Thank God for the First Amendment, what is left of it, that is.

  2. Interesting that you mention the first amendment. The documentary showed how the ratings agencies gave these sub-prime CDOs triple-A ratings when they knew they were worthless. How did the agencies justify it in front of congress? They said their triple-A rating was merely the exercise of their free speech rights. Like trained monkeys, the executives went before congress and kept repeating that their ratings were merely their constitutionally protected "opinion." Beautiful stuff! It seems free speech is alive and well in some parts. And I can't complain either; I'm always running my mouth (or keyboard) about something.

  3. The American people tolerate this perverse system because they have been indoctrinated who the "enemy" is and they have bought it lock, stock and barrel. Yes, they put small time people away for years because they believe they are the ones who threaten them and their families and they cannot see, let alone admit that they are being manipulated by those with great power and authority. It sounds "so Un-American" to accuse the educated, successful people of Wall Street, the banking industry, and the people we elect, all "good guys" of blatant fraud and selfish manipulation. And yes, Obama has filled his administration with these same folks; it is disgusting. Unfortunately the wrong people will watch this film and comprehend it while those that should will never see it.

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  5. try and revive the economy they killed. Where’s California’s “three strikes” law when you really need it?