BELFORT NOT A LONE WOLF
Aamer’s unedited version of column for Scottish Sun on Sunday 26th January 2014.
If you haven’t seen Martin Scorsese’s latest offering- ‘the Wolf of Wall Street’ make sure you do. It’s not a film for the faint hearted, your granny will probably think it’s a three hour porn flick with the F word heard 506 times, your teenager will probably drool over the amount of flesh on display whilst investment bankers will idolise Leonardo Di Caprio in his role as stockbroker Jordan Belfort.
The ‘hero’ Belfort was a stockbroker who robbed the poor of their life savings by convincing them to buy shares in dodgy companies.
At his peak he was making a million dollars a week, drove about in Lamborghinis and Ferraris, flew the world in private jets, blowing an obscene amount of his client’s money on drugs and hookers, but in 1997 he was sentenced to 4 years in prison for money laundering and fraud but released after 22 months and $110 million fine (yet to be paid)
Today Belfort who wrote the book is the toast of Hollywood, but for his 1500 victims he remains a ‘lowlife scumbag’ who is enjoying star status at their expense once again.
Many of the investment bankers and stock brokers who watched the film were secretly wetting themselves in joy, but protested publicly that their life bore no resemblance to the Wolf as their lives are all about good honest hard work which is code for ‘they deserve their multi-million pound bonuses’.
My parents preached to me my whole life the virtues of not stealing, working hard, being honest and trying not to cause anyone harm, promising that it would pay dividends one day, sadly in their old age I wonder if they were wrong?
Successive governments are obsessed with declaring a ‘war on scroungers’ whilst simultaneously denying those who have paid taxes their whole lives any chance of comfort in their old age and the poor who have nothing have even more taken from them. Yet greedy bankers who brought the world to its knees, mortgaging our children’s future can walk away with millions and a knighthood if they’re lucky.
The superrich masquerade with ‘our money’ as philanthropists only to be celebrated by society for their good deeds, whilst ordinary pensioners are left to rot and die in misery.
Just a few seconds in Harrods, Chelsea, or Canary Wharf will shows that austerity does not affect the rich, they really are getting richer.
Crime clearly does pay for the super-rich, except it’s not classed as crime, more like creative accounting, off shore accounts or tax havens.
In my experience those who work hard and legally for their money tend not throw it away on obscene displays of wealth such as Lamborghinis or diamond encrusted Rolexes.
The richer you are the less likely you are to pay tax. 1% is more probable than 22% whilst they have the cheek to vilify the poor for being ‘benefit junkies’. Oxfam revealed that the world’s richest 85 people own £1 trillion, more wealth than the bottom half of the entire global population- i.e. 3.5 billion, that is more obscene than any script Hollywood has to offer.
At the very least the Wolf is worth a watch for a glimpse of what modern day wolves who steal our money do when as Belfort wrote they are ‘fuelled by greed, as high as kites and day by day the gravy train grows longer.’
SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS
According to David Cameron ‘Syria is the biggest refugee crisis of our time’. Only this week pictures of 11,000 individuals tortured and murdered by the Syrian regime were compared to Nazi atrocities during the Second World War.
More than 2.5 million refugees have fled Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, half of them are children.
One million have fled to immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, but Europe only accepted 20,000. A few weeks ago refugees began a hunger strike at Calais as they were refused entry to the UK, which has only taken in 1000, which is 0.1% of the total.
Meanwhile the UN High Commission for Refugees is appealing to the West to take in at least 30,000.
So much for a proud tradition of assisting those fleeing persecution our Government is turning its backs on torture victims, orphans and families desperate for refuge.
This Wednesday Labour with cross party support is calling on Cameron to take part in the UNHCR refugee appeal; I hope he has the decency to do the right thing.