It’s A Wonderful Life! — The Lesson Is the Banker Gets to Keep the Money He Stole

I never liked the Capra movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but I never remembered why. Dissapointment. So even though I like to watch my favorite movies more than once, I avoided watching this particular movie. It was just a knee jerk reaction for me. But my daughter and I watched tonight and I saw it through the eyes of a nearly 67 year old man instead of a 6-7 year old kid. And I ended up reliving my disappointment.

You see when I watched it as a child I believed the movie would end with the old miser banker being wheeled in at the end and giving back the money he stole. 60 years later, not remembering the movie very well, I still expected the end to be one of slight redemption when the old man is wheeled in and gives George Bailey back the money that George thought Uncle Billie had lost. Disappointed again, only this time I was also infuriated. The banker, knowing he had come into the money by pure accident when Billie left it in the newspaper he was teasing Mr. Potter about, kept the money when he discovered it in full view of his associates who of course said nothing because of their fear that the old miser would not only fire them but ruin them. He was too big to fail.

There is no reason for Mr. Potter to keep the money. It isn’t his and he knows it. But he is corrupt and he is corrupting the system with his money from city politics to federal influence. So he keeps it and doesn’t go to jail.

As a child I believed in redemption and in some ways the Capra movie delivers it when the town people rally around Bailey and he is better off even without the return of the money from Potter. But the idealist in me expected that Potter would have returned the money anyway because he wouldn’t want to be thought of as a thief. But this doesn’t bother him, just like the mortgage fraud we have going on now.

And tens of millions of people love this movie because of its uplifting message of good people appreciating the life and people they have. But am I the only one who was disappointed and infuriated that old Banker Potter got to keep the money he stole?

Yes you could argue that Potter didn’t exactly steal it, but he knew it wasn’t his and if morality was enforced, the angel Clarence would have made sure everyone knew the Banker had the money that was threatening to put the Building and Loan Association out of business and ruining the reputation (like credit rating) of the perfectly innocent George Bailey who is content to make $45 dollars per week managing the small Building and Loan association. Bailey’s goal is to do the right things to maintain and build a community that maintains values of decency, morality and civility. His goal is to get by just like his shareholder-depositors. He has no interest in getting rich, which Potter offers him when George has a crisis of confidence.

Potter’s goal is money and he doesn’t care if he turns his community into a pile of crap as long as he makes money doing it. In fact he likes it when things crash so he can buy bargains and in the process ruin the life and dream of thousands of people. Sound familiar?

Not that the movie lacked morality and a good story about the way we see our lives. But Capra takes a definite shot at the banker by leaving him out of the glory at the end when the town people gather up far more money than needed to save George Bailey from bankruptcy and possibly jail. The bank examiner is in town to do his work. His first and only stop is to tally up the capital of George Bailey’s tiny Building and Loan Association but skips the bank that Mr. Potter owns. And Frank Capra tells us why when Potter tells us that a congressman calling Potter is told to wait on the phone when Potter is distracted by his petty jealousy of Bailey.

The movie has a good moral at the end. If you live your life doing well by others, there is a pretty good chance they will do well by you. But in the end, the nasty miser is all about staying rich and gets richer because he gets money that belongs to another person and hides the fact. He gets to keep the $8,000 he stole from Bailey’s Building and Loan Association. The money Potter steals in the movie is only $8,000 or about $280,000 in today’s money — easily enough for bank auditors to close down the business of Bailey’s bank and is enough to add to the fortune of Potter. So the moral of the story is the opposite of the lesson — being a good person is a good thing but the successful bad person will always get his way. I reject that lesson and encourage you to do the same.

The amount stolen this time by the likes of Mr. Potter is about $13 trillion, causing hundreds of billions of losses in pension funds alone and yet the government is concerned about the welfare of Mr. Potter instead of George Bailey. Tens of millions of families were displaced from their jobs and homes. I find that unacceptable, don’t you?

13 Responses

  1. You can like the movie and hate that Mr. Potter was left alone after breaking the law.

    I do agree with you that I never liked that loose end. It almost has a biblical link to the line “Give to the Romans what belongs to the Romans (aka taxes), and give to God what belongs to God”. In other words, Potter can steal all he wants, but he won’t be happy or liked. Sure, that’s true, but I would prefer justice as well.

    I would have liked to have seen Potter’s wheelchair’s assistant demand that Potter return the money, or he would.

    But then there is the issue of too happy of an ending, and that may be why Potter was left to his own devices. The movie possibly just gets too syrupy if Potter shows up.

    Earlier in the movie, there was a run on the bank and the first guy takes out his entire savings, 242 dollars. I would have liked to have seen him come in before close and redeposit most of his money and have that be the difference maker.

    Instead, the women who took only 17.50 instead of 20 dollars ended up being the difference maker as they ended the day with 2 dollars to spare. It’s just that they built up that 242 dollars repartee for a minute or two, and Jimmy Stewart gives his speech, would have been neat to see him come back and re-deposit later in the day.

  2. Indeed. These corrupt systems are all failing…just very slowly…it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better—but people are waking up…little by little:

  3. ML:
    Actually this is apparently the late Eustace Mullins’ complete work as I found it on the same website the video was posted recently.

    The Complete Works of Eustace Mullins

    Just delete everything before http when you copy-paste link in browser:

  4. Thanks Guest for posting all the leads to Eustace Mullins.

    It makes me understand clearer why JUDGE ALICE SCHLESINGER of NYSC had no fear of ruling against the US Supreme Case of Elliot v. Piersol on court necessity of having jurisdiction .and her claiming a Void ab initio judgment can become valid and the Supremacy of our US CONSTIITUTION was something she had to obey.

  5. to Guest
    you are absolutely right. Everyone has to wake up and learn about the garbage of the Federal Reserve in complete prohibition to ARTICLE. 1 PARAGRAPH 10 CLAUSE 1 of our UNITED StATES CONSTITUTION.

  6. Yes Mr. Garfield.
    Only the banker is sure to keep all stolen money. Because that’s the only purpose of bank’s existence!. That’s what this criminal American Financial system is all about since 200 + years ago as well documented by the first investigative author about this criminal System (the Fed++) in his 1950’s book.
    This year 2000 presentation of Eustace Mullins is the best synopsis of anything I have ever seen. Too bad it was only recently made public on YouTube:

    Eustace Mullins – Secrets of The Federal Reserve (FULL)

  7. I never liked it either and now I know why. I wonder how many other morality movies we could analyze this way. Hmmm….something to do when the weather gets rough…..

  8. I too watch the movie as a young boy, but since this recent crisis I love the movie because I now understand what Harry was doing in creating dream for families and taking them out of slums, and providing a decent home.

    I live part of my life in the shadow of the Warren Buffett Howard Hughes love affair of simply being rich as F! However Buffett got better PR than Potter, as he the number one shareholder of Wells Fargo, and he got stock in US Bank, Goldman, BNY Mellon and in 2011 invested $5 billion in BOA.

    Buffett father first invested during the Great Depression and during depress period Buffett made out like a bandit and this time is not different as dude purchase a rail line.

    So as Buffett has one of Obama advisers when he started out, but you mean to tell me Buffettdid not figure out before us all these securities were a problem?

    JPMorgan paid $1.9 billion for $308 billion in loans and other assets, and paid $25 billion in settlements, and is suing the FDIC to get $1 billion of that back. So the $8K from Uncle Billy and Potter keeping it is real part of what happening when as in Wells Fargo they know they did not own WaMu loans.

    Potter by keeping the Savings & Loans money created a hardship where Potter could get his hand on those mortgages and take away people getting a fair housing interest rate. You know that Harry had to be doing FHA loan for these folks, and now FHA loan were under attack from Congress back in 2005 when the market share was down to 4% back in 2009 that changed to 35% of the Market share. The subprime lending was stopped in Dec 2007, so these crooked lender had to convert to doing FHA loan, but these people brought over the same corruptions processing.

  9. It’s a wonderful LIE…

  10. To all

    Christmas I sat around and eat and thought.
    The media and justice system that wouldn’t help all of us that lost our homes to fraud because they were owned by the banks now find what happened at Target is one more piece of the bad guys fighting the good guys and so it goes the banks are caught up in their own cesspool. What goes around comes around.

  11. Speaking of movies they showed “Born Yesterday” the other day with Julie Holiday on free tv! “…mistress of millionaire junk tycoon Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford). In Washington to put a few senators and congressmen in his pocket (the better to lay the groundwork for an illegal cartel), the rude-and-crude Brock realizes that the unrefined Billie will prove an embarrassment. Thus he hires idealistic but impoverished Paul Verrell (William Holden) to pump some intelligence and class into Billie. Paul does his job too well; by awakening Billie’s social and political consciousness, he turns the girl into Brock’s most formidable foe in his efforts to buy influence in DC.”

  12. You hit the nail on the head once again. Just this afternoon I was told that we can’t expect justice since the banks, government all have their “process”! We need to hold the “process” accountable and we not only have to know where the money went with regard to our loans but as to the trillions that the banks benefited from while destroying our economy, our livelihoods and our “towns”. We all need to shine the light on why the states and cities are sitting on “relief” funds and how they are being spent.

  13. i agree. merry xmas to all.

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