Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's all Sen. McCarthy's Fault!


How 'It's a Wonderful Life', Joe MacCarthy's paranoia, and the Mortgage crisis are connected.

The internet media is fascinating. At any given time, somewhere out there is a blogger studying history and finding nuggets of truth to make us think and relate to current events.

David Goldenberg: Why Joe McCarthy Hated It’s a Wonderful Life

..what made Senator McCarthy so angry? The part involving the maligning of fat-cat banker and slumlord Henry Potter. While Bailey (who lends money to the working poor) is the movie’s hero, Henry Potter (who focuses on the financial bottom line alone) is the villain. According to the FBI’s memo, portraying a capitalist in such a negative light was a classic communist trick.

McCarthy was, of course, right when he began his crusade to expose the Left in Hollywood but, like the evil Mr Potter, he became a caricature to be vilified because of his compulsive obsession.

Fast forward to the recent past, the red-lining, mortgage industry that typically required ten or twenty percent down and no more than 25% of gross wage payment... against the sub-prime push by Fannie Mae and the 1999 CRA. So now we recognize who represents who in the Movie, right?
Well almost.
Potter WAS a crook after all, trying to keep money he knew wasn't his.
BUT...Barney Frank as George Bailey? I think not.
Meanwhile, opinions about Henry Potter’s character have changed over the years. In light of the housing-market crisis, the fiscally responsible banker may not have been such a bad guy after all. The loans that he tried to prevent George Bailey from handing out were essentially subprime mortgages. Mr. Potter may have just been trying to stop the poor citizens of Bedford Falls from over-leveraging themselves. Who’s the evil capitalist now?
Like McCarty's witch hunt ending up going much further than was necessary... after all we SUPPOSEDLY had freedom of association and speech, even back then.. shining a light on the influential person's politics should have been enough for us. And it should never go to the extremes that it did. Just let us unwashed masses know about chicanery then decide for ourselves!

The OTHER difference is that 'Wonderful Life' centered around a community, not the country. You cannot extrapolate local to global because if you do then the crooks are far more likely to get off free. Community peer image means a lot.
Nationally, it doesn't matter, apparently, as Frank's cronies have raped Fannie and Freddie pretty much at will with no political repercussions.

And all the big bank Potters seem to keep raking it in. The banks and politicians fooled us with TARP, because we couldn't be sure. Now we can be... don't try to fool us twice.

I also find McCarthy's subsequent influence on the electorate of Wisconsin fascinating -it's taking WI voters fifty years to wash the taste of idiot conservatism out of their mouths- but that's another thread.

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