Sunday, November 8, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

The posts on Wittgenstein will continue again tomorrow, I just wanted to take a quick break to write a film review.

I know many do not like Michael Moore. He is a polarizing figure and people tend to either love him or hate him. My Republican or conservative friends tend to disregard Moore as a kind of "liberal wacko." So, I know many of you do not want to see this movie, but I ask you to give it a hearing.

Twenty years after the release of Roger and Me, a film in which Moore traces the collapse of Flint, MI after GM laid off 30,00 jobs in Flint despite posting record sales, Moore releases Capitalism: A Love Story.

In the film, Moore traces the history of our economy from World War 2 until the present economic crisis. While Moore is critical of the Reagan and W. administrations, Moore does not only blame the right. Moore notes that both the Clinton administration and the current Obama administrations have contributed to the problems we are facing. In particular, Moore critiques the administration for giving key positions in the treasury department to people like former Timothy Geithner (Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs from 1998-2001 in the Clinton administration and the Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration) and former Goldman Sachs executives like Lawrence Summers (Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration from 1999-2001 and current director of the White House National Economic Council) and Robert Rubin (Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration from 1995-1999), who are largely responsible for creating the mess we're in (see the video from the Daily Show I posted a couple days ago for a similar critique of the Obama administration by Jon Stewart). Moore also critiques a Democratic congress for passing the bailouts. So, Moore shows himself to be critical of people across the political spectrum.

Moore, as usual, blends historical sources (such as an FDR State of the Union Address calling for a worker's bill of rights and some videos from the fifties defending capitalism), stories of how the economic crisis has effected common people who have lost their jobs and homes, with news stories of the economic crisis and the bailouts and interviews with members of congress, and gives his commentary on the issues. Moore also discusses issues like the poor pay of airline pilots, the rise of home foreclosures, and the impact of his faith on his viewpoint (this includes interviews with two priests and a bishop in the film).

As you watch, you'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll get angry at the crimes against the American people (and people around the world) committed by greedy executives and the growing gap in the US between the rich and poor.

Most of Moore's film consists of critique of the current system. I recently saw Moore on Democracy Now and he said that after he made films critiquing GM layoffs (Roger and Me), Farhenheit 9/11 (the military-industrial complex), the health care system (Sicko), and others, Moore wanted to make a film that critiqued the root cause of all of these issues, so he made Capitalism: A Love Story. Moore does not necessarily offer any alternatives on a large scale, but he does offer some alternative ways of doing business.

Moore shows some examples of some companies in which all of the workers are part owners. So rather than having a CEO who makes hundreds of times what the average worker makes. They make decisions together and make profits together. One of the companies is a bread factory in California.

Before watching the film, I would recommend watching Roger and Me, which would help set the context of the rest of Moore's career.

While I know many of you will dismiss both Moore and my review, give the film a fair hearing.

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