Power and politics are something that has been in my mind for a long time. Today’s world is different than past worlds. People hold a device that has almost all of the world’s knowledge in their pocket, and they is mostly use it for playing games and texting other people. These advancements in technology have helped the human race more than I can imagine, but who should have the ability to control all of these new gadgets? I couldn’t help but think of this when I was watching Inside Job when they were talking to the derivatives. From my understanding these derivatives allowed investment banks to essentially gamble on anything. Gambling is all fun and games until you are using someone else’s money, this is where the line needs to be drawn. The banks had been doing this for a short time when the government wanted to start regulating the use of derivatives. Brooksly Born was appointed to head the commodity futures trading commission, this oversaw the derivatives market. They were praised as being safe and sound but they were determined to be potentially dangerous. In May of 1998 it was proposed to regulate these derivatives, Brooksly Born received a call very shortly after from Larry Summers (Secretary of the Treasury) saying he had 13 bankers in his office and “he, in a very bullying manner, directed her to stop.” It is things like this that convinces me that politicians actually have no power. The reason I say this is because the politicians are meant to represent the people of the United States, not the people who give them money. This is not the politicians fault however, it is simply the system putting them in a tough situation. I think that politicians are lying skeez bags as much as the next guy but I can’t help but feel sorry for them in situations like these.
Essentially the whole documentary made me question how much power that Wall Street has in Washington. It just makes me wonder who actually is calling the shots. I am sure that the 4 Secretaries of the Treasury that came directly from Wall Street were very well qualified but it still makes me scratch my head a little bit. It seems to me that these people that were put into positions of power are the reason that we had so much deregulation and problems. Now I am not a socialist, I do not think that the government should have extreme amounts of control over the economic system. But I do think that the government systems that can put regulations on certain aspects of society should have enough power to do so. You look at government groups such as the SEC and the CFTC that have a job and a responsibility to the American people to prevent Wall Street from doing dangerous things with people’s money. As soon as one of them tries to act on something that’s seen as wrong they are threatened with budget cuts. The only people that can do this is Congress, so this means that all of these congressmen are standing with the big banks in order to keep their donations rolling in. The system as a whole has some flaws that are extremely large and extremely difficult to fix.
If you take a look at the past and how we have fixed problems then, it is reliant on the people of the United States stepping up and telling the government that they want a change. This is probably the tallest task of all the problems in this scenario, people simply are not informed enough about this problem to step up and make a change. In the past the problems were very easy to see, African American people were very clearly discriminated against before the Civil Rights movement, Women could not vote prior to the women’s suffrage movement. It is the collective effort of a large group of people that has the power to change the political system. However these examples are rare. Manuel Castells speaks to this in his book Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age “Movements do not object to the principle of representative democracy, but denounce the practice of such democracy as it is today, and do not recognize its legitimacy.” Movements are very difficult to get started and it is very difficult to get everyone on the same page. Getting enough people to get behind a cause to get any sort of political action is hard enough, with the added challenge of informing people about such a difficult subject makes it even harder. That is why I do not think that anything is going to change when it comes to Wall Street having too much power in Washington.