Impressions of two US films
The other day I watched a film entitled ``Inside Job.” The film kept reminding me of another thought-provoking movie named ``Green Zone.”
So I decided to share my two cents worth about them.
The two films have at least three things in common. They cast Matt Damon as a narrator and the lead character. They are about American greed if not about humankind’s. Most important is they are about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Green Zone is about how and why the United States started the Iraqi war.
After America invaded Iraq in 2003 to bring ``peace” to the Middle East and the world by purging the tyrannical Saddam Hussein government and getting rid of the WMDs that Saddam allegedly had, Chief Warrant Officer Miller and his unit were tasked to locate the weapons of mass destruction. They searched for them at sites provided by ``solid human-source intel.” They started to doubt the existence of WMDs, which was the reason they went to war.
As the movie went on, he found out that the intelligence about the WMDs had been manufactured by a high-ranking government official and later confronted him by saying, ``Did they (the government) know it was a lie? Or did they just never bother to ask? … What’s going to happen next time we need people to trust us?”
To this, the official retorted ``We’re not turning back. We won.” They did not win. George Bush’s self-righteous war in Iraq and another in Afghanistan have haunted America. The United States is in a fiscal nightmare partly because of the two wars. The wars cost the United States the moral high ground and trust among people around the world.
“Inside Job” is not so different from “Green Zone” in terms of an extreme level of U.S. greed affecting the rest of the world in an excruciating way.
It features a silent killer called “WFMDs,” short for weapons of financial massive destruction. The eminent financial guru Warren Buffet coined the phrase in order to highlight the devastating effects of complex financial products called derivatives.
The movie explains how a bubble was created in an unbridled financial industry. Banks leveraged mortgages by using derivatives such as mortgage-backed securities (MBSs). Investment banks exploited collateralized debt obligation (CDOs) to leverage MBSs and CDOs again and again. They mobilized credit default swaps (CDSs) to hedge against the risks of CDOs which they sold to clients before the bubble burst. This chain use of financial derivatives created the biggest global recession since the Great Depression.
When they went bankrupt in the aftermath of the global economic meltdown of 2008, they could still keep the money they made out of shady financial deals without being prosecuted. They still continue making heaps of money because they knew the products were ``crap and shitty.” Accordingly they bet against their clients.
They have been spending a lot more money than before the crisis to lobby the government into retaining the status quo regulation-wise. The lobby has worked greatly in their favor in view of the fact that the Barack Obama government has done virtually nothing to change it though he was elected on the political platform of ``change.”
Just look at all the financial advisors, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner he has appointed since he took office and you will get the gist.
I am afraid I could come across as anti-American. I am not. It is just that I’ve lost so much of the trust I once had in America mainly because of the aforementioned two disasters ``designed by America” and find it shameful.
Ahead of the presidential election next year, leading Republican contenders dismiss evolution as ``just a theory” and climate change as a ``contrived phony mess that is falling apart.” I have lost much hope if not seen it disappear altogether.
The writer is a former banker and now an English teacher at a private language school. He can be reached at email@example.com.