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Michael Moore’s Capitalism – Be Part of The Discussion

Posted by on October 4, 2009

Like him or hate him, we all have an opinion about Michael Moore. Personally, I think he puts too much emotion into his films for my liking, but the questions he raises are certainly warranted and each has deserved at the very least a look into the rabbit hole.

Moore’s cheering section applauds that fact Michael stands up for his beliefs and spreads the word for grave injustices he believes are being done to his fellow citizens.  His critics see his documentaries as incredibly one sided and  swing too heavily to one side of the pendulum. 

capitalism_love_story_movie_poster_michael_moore

His newest documentary, Capitalism- A Love Story, begins with a frame by frame comparison between the United States and The Roman Empire, demonstrating eerily how little has changed since the Romans ruled most of the planet. It’s always said that empires are never defeated, but collapse from within.

As the movie takes shape, Moore quickly gives us a morbid and sobering view of what Capitalism has come to, and what greed has done to our society.  

Moore has gathered undeniable evidence that a large group of Blue Chip organizations have been quietly taking out life insurance policies on their employees, essentially doubling down on the hope that their dedicated employees die. No, seriously.

These group life insurance plans termed “Dead Peasant” policies (how disturbing is that?) are profiting from the untimely deaths of their usually low-middle class employees. 

Moore profiles a number of families that have lost loved ones that worked blue collar jobs and were left with bills upon bills for medical care and funeral costs, yet received not a dime of support from employers that profited to tune of sometimes millions of dollars per death.

Personally, this plotline really set the stage for the entire movie, and showed the basic equation of how corporations “value” their employees.

Moore’s underlying theme in Capitalism (aside from the fact Jesus hates profits and Moore takes too much advice from the economically and socially sheltered clergy) is that there should be only one person we should truly look at to stop the “evil” he deems as Capitalisms: Ourself.

This documentary is a firm stand against the machine currently driving “the west” and a plea that this machine is not only broken, but designed and built to repeatedly fail. The smart tactic Moore takes is not standing on the side of any isms dragged consistently through the mud, but advocating for a paradigm shift towards the word all Western nations respect and cherish, Democracy. Our common right to vote as a collective.

Moore includes in his film, many case studies of non-conventional businesses thriving, with Democracy as their operational mandate. Employees of several companies are using an all-for-one hierarchy in which all employees reap the profits of the company they work for.  In taking this form of ownership, the employees never feel disenfranchised and removed from the process. 

I remember working for a chain discount clothing store during my high school years, and we would gather once a month to learn how well the company was doing and how much profit (or loss) our store had made.

 I distinctly recall attending one of these meetings as my co-workers clapped excitedly because we had made a substantial jump in profit, and all I could think of was, “Everyone here is completely insane.” Because the last time I checked, this incredibly profitable month wasn’t going to increase my pay, or provide me any funds to pay for my upcoming university tuition. In fact, since I was a part-timer, it wasn’t even providing me any benefits.  It was even more eye-opening as I noticed those clapping the loudest were also those I knew were repeatedly stealing merchandise from the store.  

In my opinion, the businesses of the future that embrace the co-op mentality will be exalted by Gen X and Gen Y and any other clever label given to the workers of the future. 

Ironically (and this is not mentioned in the film), the only major industry that seems to have adopted this structure are the investment banks.  I-banks have for years been giving out bonuses to all of their employees based on their success primarily to retain talent and improve motivation.  Yet, these same powerful institutions appear to be organized in an Orwellian manner to ensure the rest of the world lay at their feet.  It’s hard to revolt when you’re in debt up to your eye brows and you’ve no place to live.

Yet through all of this insight, and convincing evidence of capitalism’s short comings, Michael Moore’s sparkling jewel in this film’s crown is his unbelievably clear, never before seen archived television footage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on January 11, 1944 proposing his idea for a second Bill Of Rights.

Here is an excerpt from that speech:

We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all-regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

 All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

 America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

 I was literally slack jawed as I watched this. The United States as we all know it would be a completely different place, as would the world stage, had FDR not died.  Now, even today, FDR’s country battles amongst itself to implement something as crucial as Universal Healthcare

Scene after scene, story after story, “Capitalism- A Love Story” continually pays tribute to the little known fact that WE THE PEOPLE hold the future in our hands.

I think some Moore’s films, like Sicko and Fahrenheit 9/11, may have been a little too bias to the point of hurting Moore’s own credibility, I believe he is indeed asking the questions most Americans are too afraid to face. 

With this new film, Michael Moore’s major flaw was using far far too many clergymen and religious references in this gospel according to Mikey Moore.  I agree with his point that somewhere along the way Jesus and Christianity got into bed with the wealthy and corrupt, but putting so many of his chips on Jesus in this film was big mistake.  If Michael Moore thinks labeling Capitalism as a “sin” for two hours is going to solve all of our worldly troubles, he just doesn’t understands humans.  If we can’t stop adulterers, murderers, and theives (you know, the ten commandment sinners), the “S” word surely won’t topple Wall Street.

With that being said, if I had to reduce the controversial director to black and white (which unfortunately is what every news show does), I like Michael Moore.   He means well, he provides evidence for his arguments in, what I believe, an honest way, and with FOX NEWS pumping out as much misinformation as they can, we could probably use more people like Moore.

 Unfortunately each American and world citizen alike have been forced to recently look into their television sets and newspapers to see “Yes We Can” slipping further and further into, “Well, I thought we could.”  In a country where its politics are plagued by financial and moral bankruptcy, Moore really is the hope everyone is looking for, and continually ignores.

We are all guilty to some degree of sitting in lofty righteous chairs, pointing fingers of blame at those we’ve lifted to their roles.  From celebrities and religious leaders to CEOs and politicians, these people are nothing without us.

It is WE the people that have allowed our world, its systems, and our priorities to shift and sink to a shameful level of ignorance, arrogance, and apathy. 

Yet optimistically, I don’t believe it is our common fate to be forever trapped in a world of quiet desperation.  I can’t look at the intelligent, the driven, and the purpose filled citizens of the planet and truly believe it is merely our fate to be swallowed by our own uncompromising greed.

This is the rhetoric that “Capitalism- A Love Story” inspired in me; that there are those of us willing to admit there is a flaw in the design of the system we have all come to look upon for answers.  And its our reluctance to change anything in our lives that is already there that slows our progress so much.

Perhaps this is what Michael Moore is trying to tell us, or at least its what I heard.

The song is not “Yes we can”, it is “YES I CAN”, and only within a deafening chorus of individuals shall we find the “WE” that is desperately needed.

Regardless of whether you like Michael Moore or wish to dance on his grave…

Go see “Capitalism- A Love Story

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