Capitalism: A Love Story

Directed by Michael Moore

Starring Michael Moore and a bunch of miserable Americans.

Written by Michael Moore

As much as it pains me to say it, America needs Michael Moore.  His passion for pointing out fraud in the American system of government, in the business world, and other areas is a valuable service.  Problem is, so much of his “evidence” is anecdotal, one needs a bucket of popcorn to get enough grains of salt to suffice.  Capitalism: A Love Story follows a well tread path by now, with an important difference.  This time he let his bias blind his vision.

Starting out with a collection of foreclosures.  He uses the sad faces of common folk to build a connection with all the curious like persons out there.  Segue into “Condo Buzzards,” who make a living on the pain of the afore-mentioned common folk.  We don’t see anything about either of these groups but the things Moore wants you to see.  From what he shows, it’s cut and dried.

He moves on to talk about the story of the golden days of the U.S. economy.  You know, back in the days when we crushed Germany and Japan, American Unions were strong and wages were good.  He shows this coming to an end in mocking fashion in the Carter speech about the “malaise” the country was speaking.  Then he shows how the U.S. citizen voters were duped into believing that the country would be better off with a corporate mouthpiece Ronald Reagan.  Then, of course, shows Reagan being run by folks like Donald Regan.  Then the unions are busted, corporate regulations were relaxed, and the socioeconomic gap between the haves and the have-nots is immeasurably widened.

Problem is, as much as I would like to agree that Reagan was the root of all evil, it just is not true.  These things happened under Carter too.  But Moore either does not know this, or (most likely) does not want you to know this.

Then, inexplicably, we move towards a bunch of kids in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania who are put in juvenile detention thanks to a backroom deal reached by a corporation and some judges.  This example is predominately accurate, but then, most of the work was done by regular media before the movie was made.  Again, here we have Moore doing what he does best.  Putting the victims in front of the camera and letting them tell their story.

Another perpendicular turn takes us to a banker and a department store employee who had life insurance policies taken out on them by the companies that they worked for.  These companies then cashed on them after their untimely deaths.  The families never see a penny of this money.  Why and how this is happening is never fully explained.  It is fascinating, though, to think that while it is illegal for me or Michael Moore to take out an insurance policy on a home we don’t own, nothing seems to prevent these companies from taking these life insurance policies on their employees.

This leads to Moore’s interviewing of Catholics in his diocese, asking if they think this capitalism thing is good or bad.  Of course they say it is a bad thing.  But Moore, a liberal  who attacked lawmakers in his home state for wanting to prevent abortions from being covered by Obamacare, limits the questioning only to things he thinks are evil.

Now we move into the current economic climate and the imploding U.S. economy.  This is explained in an interesting way, covering many of the highlights, missing other factors, but essentially handing responsibilities for this on people such as Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulson and citing companies such as Citigroup, Countrywide Financial and Goldman Sachs.  He also cites members of Congress.  Mainly Republicans, of course, but also includes Chris Dodd as the token Democrat to do naughty things like take out favorable low-interest loans.

Then we get to the bailout bill.  This is painted as something bought and sold by Goldman Sachs and their ilk.  Most of this is true and horrible.  We really have no chance, it seems, when the upper crust can constantly steal from the lower 95% to support their lack of control of their financial appetite.  There are lots of pictures of rich folks and Republicans here.  Things look pretty bad for the common folks.

At this point, we get a rainbow.  We see supporters of Moore’s favorite son Obama going crazy with anticipation of this becoming an Obama Nation.  Sunshine, roses, candy and children singing.  We hear Moore reiterate  a reference about a Citbank memo talking about a fear of the people who can vote; what would happen if they all banded together.  Then we see Obama winning the election  We see what Moore approximates as the great hope.

Problem is, Obama is one of those many lawmakers that these robber barons bought out.  Moore points out that they were contributers to his campaign, but leaves it at that.  The real picture, the one that the populist liberal Michael Moore seems to not want you to see, is that Obama voted for each of the bailouts and stimulus plans.  And has done little more than talk tough when they (invariably) abuse our money.

This is how Moore’s position unravels.  He ignores that most of the nation, in fact most of the common folk he champions, are in truth, independent voters.  They are the reason folks can vote a conservative like Bush in for one election and a veritable liberal Obama in the next.  Commercials and charisma seem to work more than actual right and wrong with these folks.  But then, if I really understood or agreed with any of this, perhaps someone I wanted in office might actually win someday.

I leave you with this, just about the best thing I have ever heard about schmoes like myself, a real Common Day Man.  This is more genuine than anything Moore’s limitations will ever let him produce.

(** out of  *****)

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