Thursday, September 16, 2010

Resentment never sleeps

by Larry Ribstein

September 15, 2010

Twenty-three years ago in Wall Street, Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas created a memorable character, Gordon Gekko, who symbolized everything that was wrong about American business. Gekko begins by making his famous case for greed, which has since entered the vernacular:

greed is good. Greed works, greed is right. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all its forms, greed for life, money, love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. . .
The film then reveals the wages of greed. Gekko takes over an airline by sweet-talking the union and some insider trading, then double-crosses the workers by trying to carve up the company, and ends up headed for jail for insider trading. Along the way he explains:

[I]t’s all about bucks. It’s a zero-sum game. Somebody wins and somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred from one perception to another. Like magic. . . . Capitalism at its finest. The richest one percent of this country owns half the country’s wealth . . . You’ve got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing; I own.


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