Review of three economic documentary films with commentary

I am currently reading a book by Niall Ferguson on the history of money which will soon be reviewed, but have diverted to three films, all highly recommended by a broad spectrum of people on, and thus I felt reasonable to watch. In particular, I wished to learn more, after the fact, about the nature of the economic collapses of the last decade. In the end, I feel that I could have simply sat down and read a text from Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan and had a better feel as to the nature of the problems with the system of economics in this nation. I will review each film in order in which I watched them.

Collapse, starring Michael Ruppert ★
This film was absolutely awful.  The majority of the shots were various angles on Michael sitting on a single chair in the middle of an otherwise empty warehouse. We had to endure his continual preoccupation with cigarettes. Michael’s only message was that the entire system is going to break because the world is going to run out of oil. This will be followed by mass chaos and mass starvation, war, and disruption of all the social aspects of life.  He seems to fix most of his blame on George Bush. Michael’s brand of alarmism is disingenuous, in that he has essentially given up on the system. The final views are him in his home which has past-due taxes and bills that he cannot pay. Poor Michael! While there is truth in his thesis of the purported coming system collapse, he lacks not only credibility but also the ability to develop his claims in a convincing fashion. This film is a total waste of even the time it takes to watch it.

Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room, editor Allison Ellwood ★★★
This film is a documentary of the rise and fall of Enron. It is a sad story in many ways, in that it reflects what is happening throughout the financial structures of corporate America. Unfortunately, the editor identifies what I believe to be false or superficial causes for the collapse of Enron, including the government giving in to demands for increased deregulation. The prevailing undercurrent in this film was a statement against deregulation. In fact, the documentary failed dismally to identify where deregulation was a great evil, outside of holding people responsible for their actions and maintaining transparency in issues that involve public concern. There is a sense of anger left at the end of the film, as to why so many of the top executives could make out with hundreds of millions of dollars, middle managers and traders with millions of dollars, and yet leave many pension plans (such as with PGE) destitute. The film fails to identify a greater evil lurking in the very heart of corporate America that may lead to such corporate collapses many more times over in our short lifetime.  This film is worth watching if one has not stayed on top of the issues that led to the fall of Enron.

Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson, narrated by Matt Damon ★★
This film is a documentary about the 2008 financial collapse. It attempts to offer an in-depth analysis of what went wrong with the financial system, placing most of the blame on none other than George W. Bush (surprise?).  No mention is made of the fact that it was a very socialistic democratic congress that essentially controlled governmental financial dealings. Oddly, the film uses two faux-pundits to help sort out was went wrong with the housing bubble and the collapse of AIG and Lehman Brothers. The first was Barney Frank, who waxed eloquent about how proper regulations were not put in place on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Oddly, it was Frank and the democratic party that refused to listen to warnings. Barney is more to blame than anybody is the collapse of Fannie and Freddie. The second faux-pundit was George Soros, the consummate hypocrite who has made more billions off of shady dealings on Wall Street than anybody alive. The only benefit that I received from the film is that I was left with the impression that it is the fox that guards the financial hen-house.  The film shows adequately that even the academic institutions are now besotted with corruption with very lucrative advisory roles given to many economics professors.  It has enough fairness to admit that even St. Obama has failed the faithful by continuing Wall Street personnel such as Larry Sommers, Timothy Geithner, and many others who have failed the public trust through corrupt actions.
Conservatives tend to defend Wall Street as the model of free-market economics. The argument is against limits on top executives since free markets determine what a person earns. Such an argument is certainly true for the prior builders of industries that have made America, such as with Andrew Carnegie, The Rockefellers, etc., and is also true of modern industry builders such as Dell, Gates, and Jobs. They deserve what they have earned. I have much more trouble with the astronomical profits earned by the financial gamblers of Wall Street who run the banks. They produce nothing, their risks are not great since the Feds will bail them out, and they will be able to make catastrophic decisions and still take home at least 100 times what I will earn in a lifetime.  Ferguson argues that these banking systems create the “wealth” that powers modern society to drive itself forward. Yet, I disagree to some extent. America grew quite fine before the Federal Reserve was created on Jekyll Island in 1913. There was never an issue of phantom monies coming and going, of corruption and dishonesty controlling and regulating itself. Why are normal politicians not allowed to see into the workings of the Federal Reserve? Because we just can’t understand? If banking is truly that complex, then we have a serious problem. Strangely, many evil people such as Sommers and Geithner were given positions by George Bush, only to be held on to and adored by St. Obama.

As brother Dennis rightly states, there is minimal difference between the Republican and Democratic Party in many things, and economics seems to be one of them. Few besides Ron Paul have the wisdom to identify that the Federal Reserve is built in a fashion to protect corruption, promote parasitic high-rollers in the banking world, but in whom we are supposed to trust our money. Is it no wonder that the world economic status has become unglued?