Sunday, October 4, 2009

Capitalism; No Love Lost Here

Yes, I just broke one of my rules & took the bus Downtown to pay full price for a movie in the theatre instead of waiting for it come out on DVD; movie theatres are not good for migraine sufferers such as myself, but I couldn't wait to see it. I'm glad I did.

Michael Moore never fails to inform & entertain. His latest effort, Capitalism, A Love Story is no exeption. Once again, he shows he is not afraid to confront the establishment. In this case, the U.S. banking industry, Wall Street & of course, Congress. Informative with his usual peppering of snark.  However, I found this movie more cryptic than his other efforts. Most of all, it either reminded us of certain points in history most seem to have forgotten & new material that perhaps Americans never even knew.

In the 1hr 57 minutes of this movie, he interviews & meets so many people, travels to so many places & leads us through various trips down memory lane; in history & his own youth growing up in the once properous town of Flint, Michigan; now reduced to a ghost town, that one cannot remember all the details. I think a whole series should have been made about this. I hope this would be possible, either by Moore or someone else, it is too important.  I will attempt to share a few highlights.

The Roman Empire:
Moore illustrates in the film how the Roman Empire couldn't expect to make profits without the use of slave labour. It quickly shows how the Roman Empire fell due to capitalist greed.

The U.S. is NOT a Democracy: 
The only thing democratic about the U.S. is that all can vote & democracy stops there. According to Moore, the U.S. is a plutocracy & a corporatocracy as it is run by the 1% of the American population which is rich & not by the majority, 99% who are workers.
In the film, a few examples are offered such as how the Reagan presidency was run by corporate puppet master. He cites of course Georgie. Make no mistake though, he does also take a crack at the Democrats for alot of the problems with American Capitalism today.
According to Moore, the only thing democratic in the U.S., much to the chagrin of such corporations like Citigroup, is the right for all to vote.

The U.S. Constitution:  
To all you Libertarians & other Neo-cons: Pay attention! This is especially applicable to that toad; that constitution loving John Mackey of Wholefoods. He says health care was never guaranteed in the constitution. Well, here is something else that is also not guaranteed in your precious constitution: nowhere does it say anything about the free market, free enterprise or capitalism. Moore cites only things like "We the people..." & "...for the welfare of all..." He said it sounded like another 'ism'.

Under paid Airline Pilots
How much do you think airline pilots make in the U.S.? Guarantee, it's not as much as one would like to believe; alot of them: under 20,000$ a year & alot of them do hold down two jobs to survive. Something to think about before getting on a plane & going over 35 000 feet in the air. 

Kids for Cash
Some may have heard about P.A. Child Care in Pensylvania (name sounds harmless enough, doesn't it?) scandal involving two Judges. P.A. Child Care was a juvenile detention centre that although funded largely in part by tax payers, it was a private enterprise. The owners of the establishment of course got paid for every child staying there. Former residents were interviewed. While not angels, these kids' sins certainly didn't warrant incarceration & wouldn't have here in Canada. One boy who threw food at another kids & a girl caught smoking pot stayed there & talked about life at P.A. Child Care. One thing notable was the owner of the facility actually determined how long the kids would stay there instead of sentencing by a judge.  Judges Mark Ciavarella Jr & Michael Conohan involved  with the scam were finally caught taking kick-backs for every kid they sentenced to P.A. & another Juvenile Facility.  Here is a good overview of the scandal. They originally agreed to plead guilty in February to lesser charges which would have yielded 87 months in prison. Well, wheeling & dealing won't seem to work here as a federal judge has rejected the deal. 
As someone who works in social services; I was appalled to learn about this. Such things are unheard of here.  All facilities here are government run & should continue to be government run. This is a no brainer to even those who don't work for social services or it should be.  It just made me wonder how low some Americans can sink?

Hijacking Jesus: 
The phrase used in the film when tackling the religious angle. Moore interviewed two parish priests & a bishop from the Archdiocese of Detroit. When asked about Capitalism, all agreed that Capitalism & religion are incompattible. Capitalism is immoral. While there are many examples of this in the bible, the movie cited the Gospel According to  Luke, 
(19)  "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God."

(23) But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolaton

Proof enough that capitalism should never play a part in religion & vice-versa. Amazing how folks are easily fooled, isn't it? 
Hey Stevie! You're 'hijacking Jesus'

Special mortgages for 'friends' of Countrywide:
Chris Dodd, a former senator from Connecticut is one such special friend among others who was hammered in the movie. A former employee explains how he was instructed by his superiors to give 'special' treatment to a small select "VIP" clientele.
This, of course, is on the backs of average Americans who could not qualify for a mortgage or loan under normal circumstances who got mortages & loans with crazy contracts with so much fine print that led up to inflated interest payments as high as 200%.

The Workforce:
For the most part: certainly not democratic. Something that is obvious, but we don't think about. It is a dictatorship for the most part which we tend to accept.
A lot of this film is devoted to the American workforce & the lack there of in certain cities. 
Moore goes on a walk down memory lane with his dad in his home town of Flint, Michigan, a once thriving town where his father worked on the assembly line at GM. The land is now flattened & looks very much dead; almost third-world like; much like other towns Moore takes us through where industry has suffered.
He also takes us to a sit-in at a bankrupt factory, Republic Doors & Windows in Chicago one month following the election of President Obama. About 240 workers were let go without even a paychecque, let alone pension plans, severance packages, health care. Paraphrasing what one of them said: they understand bad business decisions but they didn't make business decisions, they made windows & doors. Even Obama was sympathetic to the workers' cause. The film did one good thing though, the workers did end up getting paid what was owed to them.
This sit-in was very much reminiscent of a sit-ins in the 1930s which led to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's second bill of rights which stated everyone was entitled to a home, a job with decent wages, good education & yes, universal health care. Unfortunately, that second bill of rights would never be enacted as Roosevelt died a year later. 

Dead Peasants: 
I now have another reason to boycott Walmart. Here is something most people probably didn't know. Companies such as Walmart, Proctor & Gamble & of course, Wall Street & the Banking industry does, often unbeknownst to its' workers is that they take out life insurance policies on the workers with of course, the owners of the company would be the beneficiaries. These dead workers are referred to as 'Dead Peasants'. What an awful term for this! What a terrible idea! How do they sleep at night?

Attempt at a Citizen's Arrest at AIG & other companies:
Met with yellow tape, police escort & the suits blocking the cameras. It is humorous to see Moore with his money bags. Predictably, never to be filled & never getting past the front door, even banned from these buildings. Now, he couldn't be onto something, could he?

Rep Marcy Kaptur; a rare hero in Congress according to the film:
She is viewed encouraging Americans who lost their homes to squat in them.
She also explains how a 'financial coup d'etat' took place in Congress when the failed 700 billion$ bail-out plan was mysteriously  revived so close before an election. 

In the words of one man who lost his home on land belonging to his wife's family for many years in Peoria, Illinois: Paraphrased again: 'there has to be a rebellion between the people who don't have anything & those who do'. We can only hope this would happen. Probably the only way for the American people to take back their country from the 1% . Too bad it isn't going in that direction though. 

The film illustrates how the American people are too easily fooled into believing they can have a slice of the American dream which will never materialize under the American system. When will they stop being fooled? 

Noticeably, Moore never once uses the 's' word. Instead, he calls it 'Democracy'. He also appeared to be careful to not praise or villify President Obama. 

To conclude, Moore says:  "Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people, and that something is democracy." However, I can't help but detect some despondance on his part, especially when mentioning how Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights will never get passed. He has those musings while we see the devastation of Katrina in Louisiana. Folks literally trapped on roof tops with Moore saying that we would never find the wealthy corporates stuck on roof tops, crying out for help.

Everybody should see this film; not just Americans but also Canadians as we could have these same economic & societal disasters down the road. Will the Tea-baggers, Birthers & other neo-cons wise up & channel their revolt to where it's so richly deserved?

1 comment:

Bina said...


Well said!