When Gordon Gekko proclaimed his “Greed is Good” mantra in the 1987 film Wall Street, the character portrayed so memorably by Michael Douglas was supposed to be the villain in a straightforward morality play on the evils of out-of-control capitalism. But like the similarly over-the-top evil personified by Tony Montana in Scarface (also written by Oliver Stone), Gekko’s fans and emulators outnumber by far those who desire to follow in the footsteps of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen’s character), and do what’s right for some imaginary benevolent form of patriarchal capitalism.
And after all the scandalous crimes that have taken place under neoliberal capitalism, from the Enron fraud to the multi-billion dollar Wall Street bailouts, one would assume that the most blatant excesses would be curbed, or at least made less visible to an understandably outraged public. But as the outrageous crackdown on Wall Street protesters has demonstrated so vividly, it’s business as usual, and greed is still the single driving force in America (and elsewhere). Yesterday, BBC World found a Wall Street trader who at least wasn’t hypocritical about it, proudly smirking during the following interview that he doesn’t care about how to fix the economy: his job is simply to make money. This guy at least deserves some credit for telling it like it is, when he casually explains that “governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.” And as this guy brags shamelessly about making money off the economic recession while he “just wants to help,” I’m reminded of the simple truth George Carlin once observed so memorably: “We know what they want – they want more for themselves, and they want less for everybody else…”