Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
After looking at the bank bail-outs of cities in financial duress in the late '70s, this documentary proposes that the banks took power away from the municipal political leaders, to the detriment of the lower echelons of society (as social programs were cut in the process). Apparently the banks backed commercial and industrial development and cuts in city spending, policies that whether intentional or not, adversely affected the lower classes. One example of the dominance of bank interests is when a banker, Felix Rohatyn set up a series of solutions to New York City's financial crisis in 1975. He created the Municipal Assistance Corporation (Big Mac), soon to be followed by the Emergency Financial Control Board. As a result of bankers' interpretations of fiscal policy, the city closed daycare centers, fire stations, and hospitals. There is no doubt that directors James Gaffney, Martin Lucas, and Jonathan Miller intended to illustrate their own viewpoints, culled after five years of filming and writing. The segment on the city of Cleveland and its default in 1978 in which the efforts of Mayor Dennis Kucinich and the community to restore fiscal stability are shown as opposed by the banks and the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. may not be as objective as some would like. Viewers will have to judge the merits of the documentary's arguments based on their own knowledge and experience.