Thursday, December 22, 2011

The "Margin Call" Phenomena

We watched the film Margin Call last night, much because as you know if you read my blog and webzine, I am very interested in studying the massive proliferation of modern-day human sacrifice. It is fascinating how much the World System facilitates it through rigorous law enforcement (U.S. federal government and its satellites), rigid civil religious expectations (Roman Catholic ecclesia and its 501c3 subdivisions), and rabid value assessment programs (banks and finance service firms coordinated through a central bank).

Margin Call was a riveting expose of the latter. [Editors note: there will be spoilers in the following post.]

It presented a dramatization of a condition I've been sharing for years, one that is surely dismissed as folly but was pouring off the screen in the film.

The story revolves around the discovery that a financial services firm, much like a Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, is holding a wad of "investment vehicles" that are essentially worthless. All along they've been touting these to clients as worthy to have, but now the firm's management is faced with the reality that they will soon be found out by all, eventuating the firm's demise.

Through much of the film the characters are faced with a choice. Work through selling these "toxic assets" by lying through their teeth for immense financial reward, or be principled and refuse to submit to the rank deception, yet then be thrown on the street.

Most chose to "stay with the firm" as one top manager put it when given a face-to-face ultimatum from the CEO. "I am with the firm" he sneered through grinding teeth.

In the end of it all, it came down to that condition in life that so few comprehend, but there it was in bright, brilliant colors on the screen.

People are worthless.

Oh sure we put together all kinds of rationalizations about why we're worthful. But then that's just it, isn't it? Precisely the point of the movie. A bunch of people working through the truth that they are worthless, and all they've been doing all along is sustaining a gargantuous lie and getting paid ungodly amounts of their extractees' cash to do so. They go crazy recognizing how worthless they really are in that, and frantically search for the ways to still keep getting paid ungodly amounts of their extractees' cash.

At the end of the film the "I'm with the firm" manager (played by Kevin Spacey) goes to announce his resignation to the CEO, then endures a blithering speech about how little money really means -- putridly ironic in itself. He then stands up and sighs, "I'll stay. But not because of your speech. It's because I need the money."

I could share a lot of telling moments from the film, such as the very plain scene that simply featured a pan across the office building floor with all the computer screens showing those market charts being displayed to no one. Also worth a mention is the very last scene of the film when the Kevin Spacey character is burying his dog late at night. Incessantly shovelling up dirt from a nicely manicured lawn. Images and metaphors for the tremendously dismal value disassessment that reigns in the World System.

But I do want to share a thing that struck me, something that demonstrates the filmmakers' abject failure themselves to even understand the meaning of what they've shown.

I watched a bit of the "Making of..." segment offered in the DVD, and some remarks were provided by Zachary Quinto, an actor who played one of the characters and himself a producer of the film. (You may know Quinto better as the actor who played Mr. Spock in the most recent Star Trek film remake.)

The very first thing Quinto said was, "There is no judging in this film, no one is being judged," something to that effect. He then blapped all the typical Hollywood stuff about choices and character and dilemma and feeling and all that blap.

But, really...

No judging at all?

No one is liable to be judged, let alone the characters themselves within the film?

Are you kidding me?

That's one of the compelling features of the film.

That they all were judging one another, the entire time! The splendid tension resulted in them not being able to express their very justified judgment of one another because it would've compromised their capacity to keep gulping their ocean-sized swig of the gravy train!

It is easy to see why Quinto would say something like this. That the consideration that life is all just "losers weepers" all along, that it is ugly but it is what it is, that no one can really judge anyone else.

Yes, indeed, everyone behaves rationally, which is why no one should be judged, if all there is is rationality.

But the film reveals that there is another thing in the mix that not even the filmmakers know about.

There is also righteousness.

And yes, not everything is righteous.

And yes, only those who know the One Who Judges Things Perfectly can truly know what that righteousness means.

Yes, what those people did in the film was spectacularly unrighteous, but the only true way out is to go to the Kingdom where Christ gives all good things to His followers. Indeed He is the third choice for all those characters in the film, but they haven't a clue because they've all been so thoroughly Catholicized, told that the World System is all there is with its stark "Take it or leave it" options.

The third option is to accept you're worthless, die to yourself, give up all the pretense -- the Spacey character was this close to doing so but he hadn't any clue that Christ would be there to meet him...

All he had was a grave he kept digging.

Oh my, what a body of death.

I really like horror films. I really do. Margin Call was about as good as any.
_

For more, check out this page in my webzine that describes more about the human sacrifice of today. I also wrote this about the "flash crash," getting into more about the meaning of what's going on in those finanical services firms.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Very Nearly Perfectly Accurate Primer on the Financial Meltdown, the Advanced Version

Yesterday I directed your attention to Matt Miller's piece in the Washington Post in which he tries to explain what's going on in the world as he would if he were speaking to his young daughter. Today I noted a piece by Jeffrey Snider that is really the same thing but with all the turgid economics included.

This is what you want to read if you want all the gory details of the way human sacrifice works these days. In fact, I like Jeffrey Snider's work because in virtually everything I read from him he is merely explaining the full apparatus for standard value extraction practices engendered by the World System.

As I read it, all I could think about was the Black-Scholes model that everyone raved about once upon a time, that novel formula that could guarantee returns on an investment no matter what happened. Snider's piece demonstrates that the Black-Scholes seduction is still alive and well.

As it should be.

World inhabitants need it all to survive. Doesn't matter if you're the highest living billionaire or the lowest slogging gutter dweller, you are always looking for the next human sacrifice hit. Does it involve lying? Of course. Does it involve great big smiles on the well-dressed liars? Certainly. Does it involve lots of exploiting the numbers and manipulating the law to keep the best of it humming along? How else could it work. Does it involve millions of people bumbling about clueless about any of it, much less the One Way out, yet still handing over gobs of their own cash to these people so the latest Black-Scholes technique will get them their cut? Nothing but.

And we all do that because we feverishly clutch our World System contracts. Should someone bring up the idea that, hey, how about instead we all gather in Christ's love and provide the tremendous wealth of the gifts He gave us on our own without Caesar's direct help which we wouldn't need anyway-- should someone actually suggest that, he'd get completely marginalized, pushed into inconsequence.

Yet still, Christ wants faithfulness from His followers. The World doesn't like it? That's kind of the way it is supposed to be.

A Christ follower can't not like it. Sure they may not have the fruits of the World's value extraction. Even if the Christ follower has none of it, he is rejoicing.

He has Him.

And the Kingdom that comes with it.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Very Nearly Perfectly Accurate Primer on the Financial Meltdown

Another fine piece appeared in the Washington Post from Matt Miller, who likes telling us the way things really are. This one was called "Europe Made Easy," and it does indeed read like a primer. I found it quite interesting that the great and powerful men-behind-the-green-curtain felt the need to put this out there for general consumption. It seems too many just haven't a clue about what all the fussing is about. Greece and banks and bond auctions and the Euro and why on earth there are a bunch of young folk occupying things.

Miller sets us straight with it all, fine work, yes, fine work indeed. Except for one not-so-minor point. Most of the all standard exposition about these things from all the uber-pundits such as Miller does get it right, pretty much, but just the same most get derailed right at the end. That's where the World keeps the full story from you and as such predictably holds you in some agitated state of consternation, rage, or even rebellion.

His wholly exploitive conclusion is this, well, I'll just let it speak for itself. It is rather simple, so simple that spiritual simpletons just shrug it off and then get right back to seething. It is:

"The moral of the story? When you’re an adult, never trust politicians and bankers who say they know what they’re doing, because they’re only looking out for themselves."

Sounds plain and truthful enough. And it is! It is very truthful.

The point is that it doesn't get to the full truth.

And what it is missing is precisely what keeps people in their present-day hells. What is it that is missing?

You and me.

It isn't just the politicians and bankers who say they know what they're doing but only looking out for themselves It is you and me. We do that too.

We too engage in the rank value extraction practices that these guys are so very good at. When an Occupy-x-streeter waves his fist at a banker, he's just saying he wants as much of the human sacrifice loot as he's getting. When a proud Constitutionalist shakes his finger at a politician telling him he's got to do things his way, he's telling him he wants as much of the tribute collection booty as he's hacking off of everyone else.

No one trusts anyone else because in their heart of hearts everyone knows the other guy is an other-sacrificer just like they are.

Not only is the only way out of this body of death a full unabashed 180 degree turn to Jesus Christ, but it is a complete abandonment of all the contracts one has with the World System that make all that Miller elucidates happen. It isn't economic illiteracy that dumbfounds people, it is a deep benighted spiritual illiteracy that keeps them from seeing what Miller describes has happened a thousand times before in history, and it will happen a thousand times again unless Jesus returns first.

Those contracts? W-4 tax liabilities--from companies and by individuals alike. Incorporation establishments. Voter registration commitments. Social Security identifications. Mortgage and debt obligations. Yes, yes, if you are truly Christ's get rid of all of them.

Love with His love.

Oh, you can't do that? You need all this stuff? You require the force of law to constrain your behavior? And that behavior is what now?...

Because so many look at what I just said as the most sickeningly vulgar swearing in the strangest foreign language means that there is no way the World will not ultimately complete its systematic implosion. You see, it's already been imploding all along. It's just the expert marketers succeed quite often in getting us to believe it's all really okay after all. Right now it's just a time when some people are getting a bit frightened of the death seeping through.

You can't get out of it by trying ever-so-much harder to whack off more of the other guy's value before he gets you. That's still death, but sadly, it is all that entrenched World inhabitants know. And so they'll keep paying their politicians and bankers handsomely just the same.

No, the only way you can escape is if you are not in it at all when the final implosion occurs.

And you can be, if you're over there in the Kingdom.