Most Popular
1. THE INFLATION MONSTER is Forecasting RECESSION - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Why APPLE Could CRASH the Stock Market! - Nadeem_Walayat
3.The Stocks Stealth BEAR Market - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Inflation, Commodities and Interest Rates : Paradigm Shifts in Macrotrends - Rambus_Chartology
5.Stock Market in the Eye of the Storm, Visualising AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
6.AI Tech Stocks Earnings BloodBath Buying Opportunity - Nadeem_Walayat
7.PPT HALTS STOCK MARKET CRASH ahead of Fed May Interest Rate Hike Meeting - Nadeem_Walayat
8.50 Small Cap Growth Stocks Analysis to CAPITALISE on the Stock Market Inflation -Nadeem_Walayat
9.WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO INVEST IN STOCKS AND HOUSING MARKET - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Apple and Microsoft Nuts Are About to CRACK and Send Stock Market Sharply Lower - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 7 days
Why PEAK INFLATION is a RED HERRING! Prepare for a Decade Long Cost of Living Crisis - 9th Aug 22
FREETRADE Want to LEND My Shares to Short Sellers! - 8th Aug 22
Stock Market Unclosed Gap - 8th Aug 22
The End Game for Silver Shenanigans... - 8th Aug 22er
WARNING Corsair MP600 NVME2 M2 SSD Are Prone to Failure Can Prevent Systems From Booting - 8th Aug 22
Elliott Waves: Your "Rhyme & Reason" to Mainstream Stock Market Opinions - 6th Aug 22
COST OF LIVING CRISIS NIGHTMARE - Expect High INFLATION for whole of this DECADE! - 6th Aug 22
WHY PEAK INFLATION RED HERRING - 5th Aug 22
Recession Is Good for Gold, but a Crisis Would Be Even Better - 5th Aug 22
Stock Market Rallying On Slowly Thinning Air - 5th Aug 22
SILVER’S BAD BREAK - 5th Aug 22
Stock Market Trend Pattren 2022 Forecast Current State - 4th Aug 22
Should We Be Prepared For An Aggressive U.S. Fed In The Future? - 4th Aug 22
Will the S&P 500 Stock Market Index Go the Way of Meme Stocks? - 4th Aug 22
Stock Market Another Upswing Attempt - 4th Aug 22
What is our Real Economic and Financial Prognosis? - 4th Aug 22
The REAL Stocks Bear Market of 2022 - 3rd Aug 22
The ‘Wishful Thinking’ Fed Is Anything But ‘Neutral’ - 3rd Aug 22
Don’t Be Misled by Gold’s Recent Upswing - 3rd Aug 22
Aluminum, Copper, Zinc: The 3 Horsemen of the Upcoming "Econocalypse" - 31st July 22
Gold Stocks’ Rally Autumn 2022 - 31st July 22
US Fed Is Battling Excess Global Capital – Which Is Creating Inflation - 31st July 22
What it's like at a Stocks Bear Market Bottom - 29th July 22
How to lock in a Guaranteed 9.6% return from Uncle Sam With I Bonds - 29th July 22
All You Need to Know About the Increase in Building Insurance Premiums for Flats - 29th July 22
The Challenges on the Horizon for UK Landlords - 29th July 22
The Psychology of Investing in a Stocks Bear Market - 26th July 22
Claiming and Calculating The Research and Development Tax Credit - 26th July 22
Stock Market Bearish Test - 26th July 22
Social Media Tips and Writing an Effective Call to Action - 26th July 22
Has Rishi Sunak Succeeded in Buying His Way Into No 10 - Fake Tory Leadership Contest - 26th July 22
The Psychology of Investing in a Stocks Bear Market - 26th July 22
Claiming and Calculating The Research and Development Tax Credit - 26th July 22
Stock Market Bearish Test - 26th July 22
Social Media Tips and Writing an Effective Call to Action - 26th July 22
Has Rishi Sunak Succeeded in Buying His Way Into No 10 - Fake Tory Leadership Contest - 26th July 22

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

The Dark Side of the American Dream

Politics / Social Issues Mar 06, 2015 - 06:06 PM GMT

By: MISES

Politics

Ryan McMaken writes: A Most Violent Year (2015, 125 minutes) is the third film from writer-director J.C. Chandor who wrote and directed 2011’s Margin Call about a Lehman Brothers-like firm in the early days of the 2008 financial crisis. Margin Call explored the complex relationships between white collar workers, corporate executives, and the firm’s customers in the face of economic ruin. With A Most Violent Year, Chandor returns to similar themes. But in this case, he focuses on a privately-owned heating oil business in 1981 New York City made successful by the relentless determination of Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), an immigrant who has clawed his way to the top of his industry through a commitment to salesmanship and slow-and-steady growth.


Morales also faces economic ruin if he cannot complete a purchase of a valuable piece of real estate which will allow him to crush his competition.

Morales prides himself on playing by the rules of the marketplace. That is, he is committed to beating his competition by providing a better service to his customers. The problem is that Morales’s competitors do not have similar hang-ups, and they are more than happy to employ dirty tricks such as violently hijacking Morales’s trucks full of heating oil and stealing their contents.

On top of this, Morales must deal with an aggressive and politically ambitious assistant district attorney, the teamsters union, and other shady figures from organized crime outfits who threaten his business.

In the opening scenes, one of Morales’s drivers, Julian (Elyes Gabel) is badly beaten when his truck is hijacked by unknown thugs. Morales is appalled by this disregard for fair play and tells Julian “these men are cowards. They’re too weak to earn a living or fight with their own hands. They’re too stupid to think of something [legitimate] to do.”

Indeed, the film portrays Morales, who was once a driver himself, as being genuinely concerned for the welfare of his employees. He considers Julian, whom Morales personally drives home from the hospital, to be an excellent employee whose job will be waiting for him when he recovers. But, of course, Morales also knows that he can’t survive if thieves continue to steal his heating oil.

The police find Morales’s truck, with all the oil removed, shortly thereafter. However, the police are of no help whatsoever, and not surprisingly so, since New York City is in the midst of a crime wave and the murder rate is at an all-time high. For Morales, the police are dead weight who do nothing to prevent or prosecute theft. To emphasize this, we then learn that Morales and his company are being investigated by the assistant district attorney for a variety of regulatory infractions (i.e., what libertarians call “non-crimes”) such as “price fixing” and related offenses, including tax evasion. As we soon see, however, it’s unclear as to what exactly Morales is paying taxes for. Morales asks the district attorney for help in stopping the thefts, but as far as he is concerned, he tells Morales, “you’re all stealing from each other, which is a refreshing change from what you’ve been doing to your customers and the taxpayers.” If Morales is going to stop the theft of his oil, he’s clearly on his own.

Meanwhile, the teamsters union (which represents Morales's drivers) is threatening to illegally arm all truck drivers in the face of the hijacking threat. Morales fears that violence may spin out of control and also clearly fears New York’s draconian anti-gun laws which will come down hard on Morales if his drivers are found with handguns. Thus, the drivers remain helpless and the hijackings continue.

Morales’s family even becomes endangered as one of his competitors apparently sends a gunman to terrorize the family in their suburban home. Morales’s wife, who comes from a family with organized crime connections, demands Morales take more decisive action, by which she means actions of ambiguous legality. She threatens to take care of things herself, and notes “you’re not going to like what’ll happen once I get involved.”

Morales does find himself being pulled into the organized crime world more and more. Following the assistant district attorney’s public announcement that Morales is under investigation, he loses his line of credit from the bank and must turn to the New York underworld to find the funding he needs to complete a time-sensitive purchase of a valuable oil-storage facility on the East River. Thanks to the assistant district attorney, he must then beg his own shady competitors for money, and although his entrepreneurial ingenuity is key to the solution, the film hints that ultimately, Morales’s business is saved by the thievery of others.

Thanks to Chandor’s preference for subtlety, this movie is neither preachy nor didactic, so Morales’s moral position is never entirely clear. Is he a nearly-blameless entrepreneur who has merely had the misfortune of being surrounded by people of questionable moral character? Or has Morales played the system all along, and his uprightness is mostly just something he believes in his own mind? What we do know is that A Most Violent Year is a very convincing story of how the so-called American dream has been corrupted by ambitious politicians, unchecked crime, and a state that is impotent except when it comes to prosecuting people who provide the actual goods and services on which society relies. At the same time, the film’s point may be that capitalists and entrepreneurs have willingly participated in the system’s corruption, but if that is the point, it doesn’t obscure the overall quality of this film.

Ryan W. McMaken is the editor of Mises Daily and The Free MarketSend him mail. See Ryan McMaken's article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Ryan McMaken via this RSS feed.

http://mises.org

© 2015 Copyright Ryan McMaken - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in