Financial Reform and Disturbing the River of Money

In my favorite scene from last year’s Public Enemies, John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and a fellow bank robber are informed that their rogue activities are disrupting the larger schemes of Al Capone and Frank Nitti, who are branching out from the booze racket and from their Chicago home turf.

As the last minute wrangling in the Senate takes place this month and a final agreement on regulatory reform is hammered out, I see a parallel between the bank lobbyist-congressional discussions and the below dialog between Capone associate “D’Andrea” and Dillinger.

The key for both parties is not to disturb the “River of Money”…

          Look around, Johnny. What do you see?

          1 1 DILLINGER
          A lot of telephones.

          You see money. Before last month there
          were independent wire services letting
          bookies know who won the third race at
          Sportman's Park. 300 of 'em. Now there's
          only one. Ours. General News. Nationwide.
          On October 20th, you robbed the bank in
          Green Castle, Indiana. You got away with
          $74,802. Split 5 ways, that's $14,960.40.
          You probably thought that was a big
          (Dillinger stares at him. Where's this going?)

          D'ANDREA (CONT'D)
          (indicates the room)
          This room makes that much every day. That
          is how money gets made. And it keeps
          getting made, day after day after day. It
          is a river of money. Flowing right to us.
          And it gets deeper and it gets wider.

          Unless the cops come through that door.

          But they won't.

          That's right. We pay them not to. Unless
          they know you're here. Then they come
          through the door, no matter what.

          What does that tell you?

          I'm popular.

          You're bad for business.
          What this is, is called obsolescence.

          D'ANDREA (CONT'D)
          So the Syndicate got a new policy,

          Guys like you? We ain't laundering your
          money or bonds no more. You ain't holing
          up in our whorehouses anymore. No
          armorers. No doctors. No nothing.

          That's the way it is.
          (D'Andrea comes closer to him.)

          D'ANDREA (CONT'D)
          And I am a messenger. This is business.

          Between us...
          He reaches into a pocket for cash.

          D'ANDREA (CONT'D)
          You need something to tide you by in case
          you're short?
          (Dillinger and Red's looks say it all. They start out.)

          D'ANDREA (CONT'D)
          Okay-but can you do me a personal
          Dillinger hesitates.

          D'ANDREA (CONT'D)
          For my son, Mark. You're his hero.

          (D'Andrea pulls out piece of paper and a pen. Dillinger looks
          at him like he's crazy. Then he signs the autograph.)

          D'ANDREA. (CONT'D)
          Good luck to you. You too, Red.

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