WHAT IS THE COST OF A DREAM?
By: Stephanie Gross
In the article “Junk Mortgages under the Microscope” author Allan Sloan explores how Goldman Sachs almost ceased to exist as a premiere financial institution because its members became extremely greedy during the mortgage boom and jeopardized the very existence of the business by selling high risk and worthless junk mortgages to the public during the housing boom in late 2000’s. The firm’s desire for quick profits drove the country’s financial markets to the verge of collapse and “Alas, almost everyone involved in this duck-feeding deal has had a foul experience. Less than 18 months after the issue was floated, a sixth of the borrowers had already defaulted on their loans” (Sloan, 1). The owners of the company dreamed of vast wealth and in selfish pursuit of financial gain came close to bringing the economy of the United States to collapse. If the federal government had not intervened an economic depression would have occurred and hurt millions of Americans. Both Goldman Sachs and Jay Gatsby were willing to risk their very existence and lose everything in pursuit of their dreams. Gatsby was so lost in everything else while trying to get Daisy back he told Nick "Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can" (Fitzgerald, 116). Goldman’s blind desire for great wealth like Gatsby’s fantasy to live happily with Daisy almost led to Goldman’s destruction as a premiere investment firm.
In the movie "Wall Street", fictional corporate raider Gordon Gekko addressed a shareholders meeting and stated "greed is good." This quoted line played out in real life a few years ago when several of this country’s preeminent financial services companies such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns pursued the “greed is good" mentality in pursuit of vast profits and almost caused the world economy to collapse. "Inside Job" is a documentary directed by Charles Ferguson that explores how systematic greed and corruption in the financial services industry caused the “Great Recession” and created great economic misery in the world. According to the documentary, the leaders of many of the financial services got together with rating agencies to help sell worthless mortgage based securities to the investing public. Ferguson opines the financial services companies and rating agencies knew people were being given mortgages they could not possibly repay. In the short run, the financial services companies and rating agencies made large fees and profits from the sale of the mortgage backed securities. Large numbers of mortgage holders defaulted. Ultimately, the bubble burst, Lehman Brothers collapsed, AIG went bankrupt, Merrill Lynch was acquired by the Bank of America, the rating agencies were bailed out by the federal government, millions of homes were foreclosed upon and the world economy almost went into a depression. Household name financial institutions ceased to exist. Although Gordon Gekko opined “Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind” (Gekko, 1), this did absolutely no good for the companies mentioned in “Inside Job.” Similar to Jay Gatsby, the once premier financial services companies like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch pursuit of their dreams, lead to their ultimate demise.
"Greed I$ Good"~Gordon Gekko
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can."~Jay Gatsby
President Obama lost the trust of the American people in his quest to enact Obamacare, his signature legislation. In the article “The Obamacare Lie That Can't Be Fixed”, the author points out the day has finally come where former President Bill Clinton has to get onto President Barack Obama about being honest. In the past, Obama had promised millions of Americans that they would be able to keep their insurance plans and doctors if they liked them. Instead of being able to keep them, millions of Americans are getting policy cancellation notices from their insurance companies. Obama told the American people that their insurance plans would be safe but instead “Obama’s promise on insurance wasn’t just injudicious, it was completely impossible. It wasn’t an incidental falsehood, but ran counter to the central premise of his own health care law” (Lowry, 1). President Obama dreamt of providing health care to all Americans, but had to lie to the American people to fulfill his dream and as a result lost the trust of the citizens of this country. Like Goldman Sachs and Gatsby, Obama’s zeal to realize his dream of universal health care has caused him to lose the trust of the American people, which for a president means everything while in office.
The cost of pursuing a dream can be quite high. In the novel, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby wanted nothing more than to be with his old lover Daisy Buchanan. He engaged in nefarious activity to achieve great wealth which Tom Buchanan found out about and exclaimed to Daisy that “He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t wrong” (Fitzgerlad, 133). He also moved near her and threw wildly extravagant parties, hoping she would show up. Gatsby was determined to have Daisy in his life again, but in the process of trying to win her back, he lost everything that was important to him including his life. In fact, he took the blame for killing Myrtle in an automobile accident caused by Daisy because he didn’t want her to be arrested for a hit and run. Gatsby’s dream of a life with Daisy ultimately led to his demise because he was killed by George Wilson as the result of trying to protect his fantasy of a life with Daisy.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1925. Print.
Sloan, Allan. "Junk Mortgages under the Microscope." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 16 Oct. 2007. Web. 03 Jan. 2014.
Lowry, Rich. "The Obamacare Lie That Can't Be Fixed." POLITICO Magazine. POLITICO Magazine, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 03 Jan. 2014.
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