Prior to the 1930s, the American economy had been marked by alternating cycles of boom and bust. Therefore, during the Great Depression, Congress passed landmark legislation designed to insulate ordinary citizens from the vagaries of the stock market.
Most significantly, these statutes (1) created the FDIC to insure bank account deposits; (2) established the SEC as an enforcement agency to regulate stock trading and to prosecute white collar securities criminals; and (3) separated investment and community banks under the Glass-Steagall Act.
As a result of the implementation of these measures, the United States enjoyed an unparalleled period of continuous prosperity which lasted for a half-century. That was because the government prevented the commercial banks from gambling with working-class people's savings in risky ways inconsistent with the public good.
However, the financial industry eventually began lobbying for the dismantling of the restrictive reforms, first finding success during the Reagan administration, and continuing to press until President Clinton signed a repeal of the Glass-Steagall in 1999. At that point, it was just a matter of time before the economic collapse experienced in 2008 would transpire.
That carefully-orchestrated fleecing of the country is the subject of Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?, an eye-opening documentary co-directed by Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher. The film features the sage insights of some of the nation's most outspoken consumer advocates, such as Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, former Obama Administration Green Czar Van Jones, journalist David Cay Johnson and Congresswoman Donna Edwards.
A persuasive case for the swift reinstatement of watchdog laws to prevent bailed-out Wall Street from turning the America Dream into a neverending nightmare for folks on Main Street.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 83 minutes
Distributor: Connecting the Dots Productions
See a trailer for 'Heist'