The film, Inside Job, won the 2011 Academy Award for best documentary. Charles Ferguson the director of Inside Job kicked off his Oscar acceptance speech with the following statement, “Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong.”
Truly, there is no place like the USA. In what other country could a bunch of bungling bankers defraud the public of trillions of dollars and get off scot free? Even better, as Inside Job details with infuriating candor, the very same people who were responsible for the 2008 financial crash were also assigned the responsibility of “rescuing” the US from the economic disaster that they had caused. Give me a break. Would anyone care to guess why not even one Wall Street wastrel has been charged with financial fraud?
But it gets better. Recall that Wall Street bankers gleefully accepted billions of dollars from the federal government to bail out their bankrupted financial institutions. Without missing a beat, those villainously incompetent bankers converted taxpayer bailouts—billions that came out of your pocket and mine—into bonuses for their buddies. How’s that for justice?
What a scam. Bankers crashed their financial institutions, extorted billions from the US Treasury and, as punishment for their crimes, those selfsame bankers rewarded themselves with multi-million dollar bonuses at the public’s expense. This is what people mean when they say that reality is often stranger than fiction. Who would believe that Wall Street bankers could be so openly and brazenly consumed by greed?
Hmm, well, come to think of it, that hardly stretches the imagination at all…
Anyway, if the infamies listed above haven’t already got your blood boiling, then don’t forget about the “jobless economic recovery.” With the help of federal bailouts and bonuses, corporate America recovered from the 2008 recession in a matter of months. Yet, even though Wall Street owed the public a huge debt of gratitude for rescuing their sorry butts, no thought of reciprocation ever flitted across their twisted minds. While corporate America popped champagne corks to toast their amazing good fortune, they showered pink slips on middle and working class Americans. No good turn ever goes unpunished.
If the story ended there, Wall Streeters would certainly be overjoyed, however, I am pleased to report that we have not yet arrived at this tale’s conclusion. Indeed, another chapter is being written as we speak and, best of all, it includes a twist that Wall Street-types really dislike. Beginning on September 17, 2011, protestors occupied Wall Street in an effort to focus public attention on the wanton greed that governs the global economy. Occupy Wall Street protestors have insisted that the economy should serve the needs of the majority rather than the whims of the Wall Street minority: the richest 1% who have repeatedly and shamelessly swindled the 99% majority. However, at long last, the silent majority has decided that enough is enough.
As of this writing, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to over 150 US cities—with more, lots more, getting on board every day. Main Street America has finally decided that it is fed up with Wall Street. If the golden goose is dead, then Wall Streeters have no one to blame but themselves.
It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of guys.
Ainsely Lewis (2013). The Inside Job. The Socjournal. [http://www.sociology.org/652/]