Movie Review and Streaming Link: 2008’s documentary I.O.U.S.A. is recommended for fans of “The Big Short”



If you liked ‘The Big Short,” you might want to go deeper into economic theory with  Patrick Creadon‘s 2008 primer on the national debt,”I.O.U.S.A.” Loaded with graphs, facts and statistics, it is too weighty a lesson in economics to be digested in 90 minutes,  but takes the subject a bit more seriously than Adam McKay’s rube comedy.   Perhaps the force of its argument will stir some of those who see it to further research the subject.

You can watch  the complete movie here for free  by clicking on the image above.

The problem with “I.O.U. S.A.” is its naive assertion that individual citizens could have dug  the country out of a $53 trillion financial hole by limiting their purchases to things they can afford and opening savings accounts for their grandchildren.

Several man-in-the-street interviews reveal a woeful lack of public knowledge concerning debt and deficit, the latter of which is vaguely understood by one clueless citizen as “something bad.” To help educate them, former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker and Bob Bixby, executive director of theConcord Coalition, travel the country on a “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.” These two experts provide the human relief from director Creadon’s barrage of statistics.

“I.O.U.S.A.” opens with a montage of U.S. presidents speaking on the failing economy, making it clear that fiscal irresponsibility is not a new issue. The film continues by exploring each of the deficits (federal, savings, trade and leadership) that make up the national debt. It is a convenient structure, but isolating them into four individual quarters of a pie is a gross simplification that does not take into account the overlapping elements of financial life.

Not that it matters much. This is a wake-up call, not a plan of action. As such, it should provide a temporary jolt of reality to those believing their credit line has no end and no repercussions. Even if most of the dated statistics will go in one ear and out the other, the general philosophical viewpoint — that it is immoral for one generation to spend the next generation’s money — should still pinch the consciences of those over-consumers who don’t look beyond their minimum monthly payments.


9 thoughts on “Movie Review and Streaming Link: 2008’s documentary I.O.U.S.A. is recommended for fans of “The Big Short”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Bill. I’ll pass this along to my colleague across the hall who teaches economics. I’m not teaching U.S. History this year or I’d show it in my classroom. I’ll take a look at it, I promise.
    I don’t possess a credit card, btw.


  2. I often find that the very people who should be watching documentaries like this are not bothering to do so. Perhaps they are too busy, probably out shopping…
    I have a credit card, so that I can benefit from the guarantees it offers on purchases and exchanges. I don’t have any balances I cannot clear, but I know many that do.
    Regards, Pete.


  3. The Revenant? Well, the first scene was pretty good, and Ied me to expect something on the level of The New World or The Last of the Mohicans. to say the least, it was a letdown, but it was a sight better than Bone Tomahawk. I liked the locations but hated the camerawork. Didn’t see much special about DiCaprio’s performance. It took me seven times to see the whole thing, as I kept falling asleep. .It was twice as good as Gravity, but also twice as long so that evens things out. the only thing it had going for it story-wise was the ambiguity of whether or not he was a ghost and, if so, at what point did he die?


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