I invest in stocks, but I do not trust the rapacious rascals on Wall Street.
The most upsetting thing about Wall Street evil-doers is that they are threatening one of the most fundamental institutions of Western Civilization: the stock market. Ever wonder why the United States became an economic powerhouse? It is because of centralized banking and stocks. They allow entrepreneurs without money to find people who have money but no big ideas.
This is the essence of positive capitalism: the entrepreneurs build a new business and get rich, the investors get wealthier from the profit, and all of us get railroads, automobiles, and Apple watches.
To Wall Street bad guys, companies are nothing more than ticker symbols and numbers to manipulate and exploit. And our society has way too much tolerance for these guys.
To this day, Mitt Romney is still a US Senator. I shudder to admit that some people I know have complimented him. In a more sane society, Romney would be in a dank cell in the Tower of London like the unrepentant financial heretic that he is.
Bain Capital – the firm that Romney co-founded – is viciously predatory. Bain Capital finds productive companies that provide good jobs and systematically destroys them.
Romney would borrow billions of dollars to buy a controlling stake in a decent company. By doing so, Romney actually saddled the company in the mountain of debt that HE created. Then the company had no choice but to cut salaries and lay-off workers to handle its new debt load. What Bain Capital does is wrong by any moral standard.
Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” creates a legendary character who is essentially Mitt Romney with charisma.
Michael Douglas steals the show as slimy, seductive supervillain Gordon Gekko. Gekko makes huge money in two different ways. He gathers illegal insider information and buys stocks that are certain to go up. And sometimes he buys productive companies – Romney-style – only to dismantle them and sell them for scrap.
Charlie Sheen is also pretty good in the less juicy role of Bud Fox: an ambitious young stockbroker who gets seduced by greedy Gekko and his dirty money.
To his credit, Oliver Stone makes it clear that he is attacking rapacious Romneys, not individual investors. And Stone is critical of Bud Fox’s disgraceful decadence; he is not stumping for socialism.
The surprising problem with “Wall Street” is that it is too conventional. This is not the confident Oliver Stone of the 90s, who made one explosive masterpiece after another. And “Wall Street” isn’t nearly as fun as Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
“Wall Street” has a tacked-on love triangle that doesn’t belong. And the final act is awkwardly edited and feels rushed. The film should have been three-hours long, like “JFK” and “Nixon.”
“Wall Street” is not a great movie. But it is an important movie. There is a gigantic difference between the working man next door becoming a millionaire on mutual funds and the soulless pirate in Utah becoming a billionaire by destroying companies and jobs. Our society does not teach the difference. Oliver Stone does.