Wednesday, April 20, 2005

It's A Wonderful Life?

Listening this morning to the news about President Bush's visit to the supposedly non-existent Social Security trust fund, whereupon he claimed that the US Treasury Bonds in the filing cabinet were essentially worthless, that they were "just IOUs", I couldn't help but recall this bit of dialogue from the film classic, It's A Wonderful Life:

GEORGE BAILY: No, but you . . . you . . . you're thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a safe. The money's not here. Your money's in Joe's house . . .[to one of the men]. . . right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin's house, and a hundred others. Why, you're lending them the money to build, and then, they're going to pay it back to you as best they can. Now what are you going to do? Foreclose on them?

W. POTTER: Heck yes, I'm foreclosing. I'm repossessing the filing cabinet and all it's IOUs for more tax breaks for the top 1%, Wall Street boondoggles for my wealthy contributors, and for more military largesse, you simpleton.

BAILY: But Mr. Potter, we all voted for you, us country folk, we trusted you with our money; we've trusted the federal government ever since FDR restored trust in the banks and in our government. He said that we would band together for the good of all.

W. POTTER: And you believed that fairy tale? Good Lord, son! Listen, that's the problem with you people, you trust the government, you trust your money, and you've been trusting in Social Security just because....well, just because up until now the government made good on its fiduciary promises by keeping the currency stable, by paying its debts, by backing its securities in the past. But that's all smoke and mirrors. I'm here to disillusion you idiots and prove that you shouldn't have and can't trust the government because.....well, the government CAN walk away from its promises.

And to prove to you that the government CAN walk away, I AM walking away and taking your money to boot. Lesson learned. We're going back to way things ought to be; the way things are -- Law of the jungle, Social Darwinism -- no safety nets UNLESS you're in our club. And we make OUR safety nets by conning money from idiots like you.

GEORGE BAILY: But aren't we all in the club, aren't we ALL Americans?

W. POTTER: Holy smokes, sonny! You still believe in the nation-state? Son, that went out years ago. When that bomb blew up them Jap cities, it blew up the nation-state. Now all we have are multinationals and their toadies like the World Bank. You want security, buy some stock.

GEORGE BAILY: But Mr. Potter, we did. We bought Enron and WorldCom.

W. POTTER: Shoulda bought Carlyle baby, it's the ONLY game in town.

GEORGE BAILY: But it's privately held by you and your friends.

W. POTTER: {eerie snicker for extended period.....}

This post appeared in The Franklin Press 4/22/2005