Friday, January 28, 2011

Capitalism, a Love Story, a film

Michael Moore's film, Capitalism: A Love Story, is just as funny as its title and just as veil-lifting as his previous films have been on their subjects.

Wrapping crime-scene tape around Goldman-Sachs and other Wall Street Pirates is a hilarious and incisive gesture and looking closely at some of the victims of the predator culture brings home the criminality of some of what happens when the bottom line is all that matters. An interview excerpt with an influential columnist with the Wall Street Journal pretty much says it all - the writer takes the usual propaganda device of associating capitalism with democracy and drops the latter component as unnecessary and in-the-way. The Constitutional guarantee and exhortation to seek happiness can apparently be completely satisfied by chasing money.

Speaking of Goldman-Sachs they, according to Moore, are amply represented, indeed are indistinguishable from the government, especially under the Bush Administration, at least when it comes to the treasury and economic policies. But they were there also in force under Clinton, the first Bush and certainly with a vengeance under (over!) Reagan - the Hollywood actor hired by Bankers and other lesser Capitalists to represent their interests. The film confirms that most of the congress and anyone with any chance of getting anywhere near the presidency are employed by the same forces in the form of campaign contributions and shared ideology. Across all these administrations Wall Street sociopaths can be seen moving - into government, shifting a few rules (deregulate), back to Wall Street, make some more money, back to government, tweak it abit (deregulate) and serenely count profits while the economy melts down. The appointment of Larry Summers as his chief economic adviser demonstrates that Obama-the-reformer has in no way escaped the clutches of this cabal. Maybe the change he was talking about was in Oval Office decor (to give him his due, the Woodward book, Obama's War, claims that "enhanced interrogation" techniques and rendition have ended under Obama, a change worth the 10 minutes it took to vote).

The stormtrooper right routinely lies, makes stuff up, distorts data, all to discredit what it perceives as the enemy, usually socialism. They have to since to honestly present their view, that the wealthy should rule, would discredit themselves. So I hate to see Michael Moore use their tactics, even in a minor way, which I'm afraid he does in a segment where he presents airline pilots, deep in debt from their training, underpaid and working part-time jobs outside their profession to make ends meet. For many students in the U.S. this is a sad but true tale but the film implies (by using a visual of a large major airliner while citing the statistics) that pilots make less than $20,000 a year when in fact this figure is only true for the commuter airlines and part-time pilots. Moore, under constant attack by the right, should not give his critics ammunition.

Moore includes in his film something he discovered in South Carolina, lost footage of President Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union Address. In his talk Roosevelt suggested that the nation needed to implement a second "bill of rights". His argument was that the "political rights" guaranteed by the constitution and the Bill of Rights had "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." Roosevelt's remedy was to declare an "economic bill of rights" which would guarantee:

* Employment, with a living wage,
* Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies,
* Housing,
* Medical care,
* Education, and,
* Social security

Roosevelt believed that these rights would guarantee U.S. security, and that our place in the world depended upon how far these and similar rights had been carried into practice. Unfortunately Roosevelt died before he could use his immense popularity to bring this vision to fruition. The film leaves that task to us.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Cartoons Tom!
    Always have done :)
    In Atlanta this weekend ... a rare visit for me these days....