I watched a movie over the weekend called The Company Men, stars Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Craig T. Nelson, a couple of others. It’s about the current economic crisis. I don’t know if it’s in the theaters or if it has been in theaters. I have no idea. I just watched it on pay-per-view. And gosh, it’s scary ’cause we instinctively know what’s depicted here is happening to real people in great numbers. Lives are being destroyed because of the United States economy. Now, the movie, if you’ve seen it, it does have its obligatory slams at the typical heartless, cold, ruthless white CEO, but not much. It has its obligatory attacks on how business will fire people but invest $22 million in a new office program. But that wasn’t what struck me.
This is about people of all ages who work for a major corporation who get blown out, fired, ranging in age from 35 all the way up to 60, and the problems that they had. There’s a suicide. I don’t want to give too much of the movie away, if you haven’t seen it, and if you plan on watching it. But, boy, it made me pinch myself and realize how lucky I’ve been and blessed I’ve been. It also taught me being fired is for the young. You know, I got fired seven times and it was in my youth. Being fired at age 60 at any time is bad. In this particular climate it’s disheartening and depressing. And the movie dealt with this I thought fairly honestly other than, you know, it’s a Weinstein movie, former Miramax guy, it’s got its obligatory attacks on capitalism, look past those. It really was a case study in what’s happening to people. There wasn’t any politics in it. Nobody was blamed other than the white CEO for being heartless and so forth. But every five minutes watching this movie, I said, “Man, am I lucky. Man, am I blessed.”
I know Debbie “Blabbermouth” Schultz says there is no recession. We got the sound bite, Debbie “Blabbermouth” Schultz says the economy is so hot right now you might not even know that there was a recession. Yeah. Debbie “Blabbermouth” Schultz. We’ve got the women on the roundtable of Christiane Amanpour’s show yesterday, This Week on ABC talking about the Weiner scandal may be a good moment for women. Claire Shipman, who is married to Jay Carney, who is the White House press secretary, says this Weiner scandal may actually be a good moment for women. Are you trying to figure out how that can be? All right. Well, we’ll wait ’til we get to her sound bites, ’cause I got ’em here. They’re at the top of the list for us to listen to together and enjoy.
Folks, it just isn’t getting any better. Economically it’s just getting worse and there’s no end in sight for it. And coupled with watching this movie, it was just, as I say, a combination of being depressed over what’s happening to real people in this country. It just breaks my heart to know this is happening to people who have done nothing but play by the rules, who have done nothing but go out and try to be the best they can be. And I know there are natural economic cycles and you can’t lose your mind over ’em, everybody gets canned, but this is different because what’s happening to the United States and our private sector now is purposeful.
These circumstances that are affecting and happening to people are the result of government policy. They are the end result of what this administration intends. And I imagine the people that produced this movie find it strange I might be talking about how much I liked it because the people involved in this movie were involved in The West Wing TV show. The movie came out of Sundance, you know, Robert Redford’s film fest out there in Utah. It had very limited theatrical release. I was just channel surfing and I saw it on the pay-per-view list and decided to watch it.
RUSH: By the way, this movie, The Company Men? I left out something that’s very important about this movie. You know what the solution to everybody’s problems is, the end of the movie? Entrepreneurism. Everybody gets blown out by this mythical corporation, and they go through the process of trying to find a job. They go to a placement agency where they’re given desk space. They fill out applications; they go on interviews. They find nothing. They end up dehumanized in the process, and it’s happened to all of us. Every time we look for a job, we’re lied to by people who interview us, lied to about how close we are to getting a job, all these things. One guy sells his house, sells his Beamer, moves back in with his parents.
He doesn’t want to do any of it; it’s his wife who realizes the depth of their situation. He ends up going to work construction with his wife’s brother. That’s all he can find, and he got three months severance. Now, one of the people in the movie that ends up getting the axe is top-ranked management character played by Tommy Lee Jones, and he got a great severance package ’cause he had a lot of stock. So his going away number was pretty good, but he lounges around and lollygags around and loses his wife ’cause he’s having an affair with the human resources babe in the company, who’s firing everybody. As I tell you, there are things in this movie that are distinctly Democrat, even though it takes its obligatory shot at Republicans and big businessmen.
Other than that it’s a really good movie, but in the end this Tommy Lee Jones character decides to take his big number, his retirement package and start his own business and hires everybody back. Not at what they were making. The guy that put this movie together, wrote the movie is the guy that wrote The West Wing. Left-wing Democrat, anti-corporate, what have you. But the solution to all these people’s problem is one guy decides to plow his money into a new business. At his age he could easily go live on the beach. He could say, “You know, to heck with it,” but he decides he’s not through working. So he starts a maritime business and hires as many of these people that he knew from the corporation back.
The movie ends with them going through the usual rah-rah teamwork, everybody happy to be back, everybody refocused, making this company sing and hum. It’s entrepreneurism that ends up saving them. They don’t get cured by a government handout. They don’t get cured by food stamps. They don’t go to the “green” energy sector. They don’t get a grant from Obama. They have to rely on this one guy who decides to be an entrepreneur. It’s a good movie. As I say, there are just the usual obligatory swats at ugly CEOs and heartless, cold-hearted Republicans. You get past that because that’s a minor aspect here of the movie. So anyway here’s Mitt’s ad. Mitt’s going after Obama. He’s beatable, and the reason he’s beatable because everybody’s living this.
It is not insignificant what is happening to the people of this country. They’re losing everything! Those who are losing it are losing everything, and the numbers of people who are in the process of losing everything or fearful of losing everything is growing. There is no sign of recovery. There is no light at the end of the tunnel where everybody’s got some hope that they could see or maybe invest in. We haven’t gotten there yet. It’s the exact opposite. Then we find out this: Business Insider has a blog post today that where all the QE2 money went, Quantitative Easing 2. Foreign banks! We bailed out a bunch of foreign banks. Bernanke and the Federal Reserve bailed out a bunch of foreign banks.
The reason there isn’t any money, theoretically, for people to borrow is that the banks in this country really didn’t get much of QE2. The money that we’ve spent or printed is bailing out foreign entities, just like Obama promised last week we might bail out Greece. So the bankers are taking care of each other. With TARP, Paulson took care of domestic American bankers — except for Bear Stearns, for some reason. (Somebody ticked them off on the golf course, probably.) And now we’re taking care of some European banks with QE2, and some of that money got plowed back into Wall Street which is why shares went up. So once again we’re finding out it’s closed markets, a rigged game, nothing is real. In the meantime people are genuinely suffering — good, honest, decent, hardworking people.
Their homes are underwater. The prospect of asset recovery within their lifetimes looks bleak. It is not pretty out there. It is, in fact, worse than what the media was trying to make you think it was during the Bush years. If you recall, all of that horrible economic news during the Bush years, when it wasn’t bad. Unemployment was at 5% or 6, the worst. There really wasn’t any negative economic news to speak up during the Bush years. There wasn’t any recession to speak of per se until we hit 2008, but from 2005 on every day the economy was about the forthcoming recession or the recession that we had not come out of since 2002.
You know what I rewatched over the weekend, too? Wag the Dog. I had forgotten I had it. In 1998 I went out and bought it and it’s hilarious. It took place during the Clinton years, 1998, and it was all about a TV media guy and a Hollywood producer manufacturing a war for television only that didn’t exist — a war that wasn’t taking place — to distracting the American people’s attention away from a sex scandal in the White House. De Niro is the ad guy who comes up with the concept, and he and his White House liaison are leaving the Hollywood producer’s house heading somewhere for dinner and they’re stopped by an SUV caravan and it turns out to be a bunch of CIA agents. The CIA lead agent, William H. Macy (“Fargo”) says, “There’s no war. There’s no problem on the Canadian border, no war in Albania. There aren’t any spies.” And De Niro says, “Who says there’s not? I was just watching it on TV.”
The CIA guy says, “Gee, you’re right. As far as people are concerned there is a war becuase television says there’s a war.” They had manufactured graphics and video to convince people there’s a war in Albania to distract from the president’s sex scandal. The CIA tried to shut it down, and you know how they did it? It’s eight days away from presidential election, so they went to the opponent in the presidential race and they gave him information. “Guess what? The hostilities have ended in Albania,” and the presidential candidate, a sitting Senator, calls a press conference to announce that he’s learned that the war in Albania’s over.
De Niro’s watching and says, “Damn it, he just ended the war,” and, of course, there isn’t one. Well, my point is, they told you we were in a recession and getting worse for the last four years of the Bush regime. It wasn’t true but you believed it. We are, folks, in dire straits! There are people’s lives and their children’s futures are being destroyed, and you’re not hearing about that. Oh, you hear about it at a trickle-down story here and there, but you’re not hearing about it as you would be were the president a Republican and were the media trying to get rid of him. But it’s a crying shame, what is being done to this country.
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