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'Capitalism' and 'Law Abiding'

Movies point out corruption threatening our country

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Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 12:00 am

Over the last couple of years I have been seriously questioning the operation and actions of our government.

It feels as if no one in power is listening to reason anymore, and that their bubble is some fantasy world where they can do as they please without serious consequences down the road.

Money continues to be blown out of the empty treasury like we've just won the lottery. Despite a massive terrorist attack, our borders are still wide open for anyone to walk right across. And major companies that lobby hard enough get whatever they'd like, including a bailout, only to then stick it to the taxpayers who didn't authorize their bailout in the first place.

Our justice system is rotting from the inside. Judges that legislate from the bench and scratch the backs of lawmakers and big business rather than prosecuting them and calling their bluff alarm me.

But two movies I caught last month got me thinking I'm not the only person feeling this way. They were Michael Moore's, "Capitalism: A Love Story," (I don't knock it until I see it, giving it a fair shot) and Gerard Butler's "Law Abiding Citizen."

While Moore's flick had plenty of Bush-bashing, and inaccurately painted our current president as some type of savior he hasn't been, the documentary film wasn't terrible. Had the movie been renamed "Corruption: A Love Story," it may have resonated better among those who wrote Moore off as a nut years ago.

As the movie (inadvertently?) showed, the real culprit in America's breakdown isn't the free market and the ability to make money, but the greed and corruption from within that is causing all the problems. Moore's film was all about big business and government, showcasing this problem.

On to Butler's "Citizen."

While Butler's character is done wrong by the justice system after a domestic crime, he takes the law into his own hands and begins sending very gruesome, deadly messages to powerful people who lie, cheat and undermine what's right.

Butler's character does go to extremes I would never advocate or endorse, but the message behind the movie is clear. No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you are responsible for your actions, to which he ironically understands more than anyone in the end.

Corruption is killing the very country I love — and thank God that I am a part of this country. Corruption in the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, Congress, the Senate, corporations, banks, state, local, federal — it's boiling over!

So you can imagine my sincere disgust when I read a recent study that declared moral decay is on the rise, and kids, now more than ever, feel that it's not only OK, but that lying and cheating is needed to get ahead and be successful.

The study, conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, revealed that younger generations are "significantly more likely to engage in dishonest conduct than those in older cohorts."

Another startling revelation from the study, based on 6,930 respondents, was that "teens 17 or under are five times more likely than those over 50 to hold the cynical belief that lying and cheating are necessary to succeed, nearly four times as likely to deceive their boss, more than three times as likely to keep change mistakenly given to them, and more than three times as likely to believe it's OK to lie to get a child into a better school."

And my age group?

"Young adults (18-24) are more than three times more likely to have inflated an insurance claim than those over 40 and more than twice as likely to lie to their spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner about something significant," the study reported.

The report goes on to talk about attitudes and how they play into the big picture of moral decay. The Institute also cited high school behavior, such as cheating on an exam "two or more times," as an indication that people may be considerably more dishonest later in life.

Lying to a customer, deceiving a boss or cheating on taxes are all examples, the study found.

Disheartening? To say the least.

But how can we blame the up-and-coming generations? After all, they've had such outstanding role models in the world's most powerful positions to show them that character doesn't matter, personal accountability isn't an issue when you control things, and it's not what you say but how it comes out in a sound byte that really matters.

America, we have a huge problem.

Columnist Wade Heath of Lodi is a college student studying in Southern California. He may be reached at:

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