OPINION – Perhaps some of you remember the Oliver Stone movie Wall Street. More succinctly, perhaps you remember the now infamous speech by the character Gordon Gekko:
“The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all of its forms: greed for life, money, love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind, and greed – you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.”
An iconic speech in the annals of film history and it typifies, interestingly enough, the history of American economics. The film, made in the ‘80s, and Gekko’s message took hold of Wall Street almost as if the movie was not a fiction at all. It inspired America to be like Gekko instead of seeing him as a villain. It created a monster not only on Wall Street, but on Main Street as well.
So much so that Oliver Stone, some 20 years later, made a sequel, “Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps,” in an attempt to quell the problem or perhaps to at least atone himself for unleashing Pandora from her box.
The American people bought it. Greed was, in all forms, the driving force behind the economic meltdown, and we are now living in its aftermath.
Sure, false derivatives created by Wall Street firms ultimately were the machinations of destruction of our financial independence. But much like how we set the tone by whom we vote into office, we do so also by how we spend our money and more importantly by how we borrow it:
• Not a single whimper did our voracious consumer-driven appetite give when America was leveraging its future on first and second mortgages based on unchecked and overinflated appraisals of our homes.
• Not a hint of recognition was given to the red flags in plain sight when we were able to purchase homes worth more than the sum total of all the money we would make in our lifetime and more, with the simple filling out of a “no doc” loan application.
• Not a care in the world was had when we found ourselves purchasing large new fancy wallets to fit the copious number of credit cards we had but for the asking.
I often see comments reflecting the notion that what is needed to get our country back on track is a businessman. That is to say, someone who knows how to cut through the red tape and get our country back “in business.”
I would assert here, it is business done in Gekko’s paradigm of economics that has gotten us here.
It is our insistence upon making this flawed and irresponsible system of economics work that is the mark of our demise.
An honest look at Mitt Romney, and perhaps a side-by-side comparison of him and Gekko, reveals glaring similarities.
Romney and his company Bain Capital made millions applying the Gekko principle of buying up companies, running the debt through the ceiling while pocketing windfall profits, then breaking them up in the name of business sensibility and leaving the aftermath of displaced and disenfranchised employees to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.
And today, he chides those very people who have any dependence on the government whatsoever as being the weak link in our culture.
The sadistic irony of this is almost too much to bear as he unapologetically touts this mantra at $50,000-per-plate fundraising luncheons.
And, more importantly, Romney explains that while he stands by this mantra, he realizes it could have been more eloquently stated.
America, heed this warning: Run from this man and all who align themselves with him.
Ours is a problem that cannot be solved by repeating the same mistakes again and again.
Now, more than any time in our nation’s history, lines must be drawn; and a return to the core principles of this nation must be sought. If not, the Gekkos of the world will be left free to choose any direction they deem profitable.
And that is a direction from whence we will likely not recover.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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