In director Oliver Stone’s 1987 smash hit Wall Street, which has since come to be recognized as the celluloid manifestation of that decade’s promotion of the unyielding, if not vengeful, pursuance of the American Dream, multi-millionaire stockbroker Gordon Gekko, who is, by that very definition, the film’s antagonist, makes a rousing speech to the shareholders of a failing paper company. In it, he completely and totally rejects the altruistic and “compassionate” capitalistic mentality of the powers-that-be, advocating a return to free market values and the embracing of the term “greed” as a good thing.
It is a terrible shame that, as twenty-first century Americans, we have no Gordon Gekko of our time. With our country’s economy progressively (pun fully intended) being sucked into the proverbial black hole as the result of massive government intrusion into its process, we could use one now, more than ever. However, instead of Gekko 2.0 addressing a private corporation, it would be more prudent for him to go to where the problem really is: that enormous public conglomerate currently in a death spiral called the federal government. Of course, this would mean that Gekko 2.0 would not be speaking to incompetent shareholders, but instead citizen “representatives” who feel that they know what is best for the United States, and any opinion contrary to theirs is pure poppycock.
For once, more than eighty people might actually tune into C-SPAN. Too fantastical of a thought? Perhaps, but stranger things have happened.
Unfortunately, I do not see a Gordon Gekko of the 2010s anywhere remotely on the horizon. Quite possibly the only thing that can save modern day America from fiscal oblivion is the widespread acknowledgment of the inescapable fact that greed, so long as it does not involve infringing upon the rights of others, is something which should not be shunned or reviled, but applauded and welcomed with open arms. After all, was it not an intense greed for freedom on the part of our Founding Fathers that resulted in the United States evolving from concept to reality? Was it not an intense greed for technological advancements on behalf of countless inventors over the centuries which resulted in the telephone, television, and, finally, the Internet? Was it not an intense greed for efficient middle class housing brought about by a handful of cunning post-World War II real estate developers which resulted in what is now commonly referred to as “suburbia”?
Of course it was.
If just a small segment of the American public caught on to the idea that rational greed is a positive evolutionary force for the betterment of mankind, then our country would almost definitely be back on the right track in no time at all.