Capitalism: A Love Story

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This entry should probably go on the ‘movies’ page, but there are few important things to discuss with regards to this film, information that needs to be proliferated. I know that if you’re still reading this blog after seeing the title and the image herein, then you’re on the side of liking Michael Moore’s work and probably not in the other dug-out wishing he would get crushed under Rush Limbaugh’s even larger ass. The thing is, Michael Moore is an everyman, or at least that’s the role he plays in his ‘documentaries’ which are always incredibly well-researched and edited and just as often created. It’s a trick employed in most documentaries (see; ‘re-enactment’) but Moore takes it further, by putting himself into the mix and acting as his audience’s surrogate. Truth be told, his films work better for me in the sequences he’s not in or isn’t physically pushing the action forward.  Capitalism: A Love Story is a very strong indictment of America’s turn away from democracy, as outlined by the founding fathers, and toward a wealth-based plutocracy: a nation where the richest 1% control everything. Interestingly enough, Moore makes the case for the remaining 95%’s culpability in their own victimization at the hands of those who would exploit every opportunity to increase their wealth upon the backs of the unsuspecting masses, who have been lulled into thinking that they have a chance at ‘the American Dream’ as propogated post-World War Two and spoon-fed time and again during the Reagan and Bush years. Folks, the same people who tell you you’re entitled to great wealth are the same folks who are behind the political rhetoric that wants to take your entitlements away. And you continue to go shopping, line up outside the Best Buy Thanksgiving night, sign on the dotted line without reading the fine print and then put your hands out when the bottom falls through. There are some among us who think the left leaning efforts of Roosevelt was the beginning of the end, but the truth is found in a much more recent history starting in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan. Where FDR put programs in place to get people to work after the Depression and before the war, the Reagan era worked to undermine the American workforce, get people on never-ending lines of credit and eventually marginalize them to the point where their only options are food stamps and welfare. Why? you ask… it’s a good question. Why would someone do this? The only answer is ‘corruption’… the corruption of greed has blinded this 1% to the fact that when things get bad enough, not all the standing armies and private security contractors will be able to stop the coming revolution. It’s a movement of grassroots protests now, but for how much longer? And when the arms are brought up, who will be fighting who and why? Even God won’t be able to help quell the angry hoards… ’cause, of course, He’s just a figurehead these days for a religion that is all about power and money. Chances are God checked out of this one a long time ago.

This film also introduces us to something that has been bouncing around in my head since I saw it last night with Markus at the WGA. Companies (WalMart, McDonnel/Douglas, Hershey, Nestle, Bank of America and CitiGroup among them) have a practice of taking out “Dead Peasant” life insurance policies on their own employees. When an employee dies, the company collects on the policy. The employee is unaware that he means more to the company dead than alive, and his family never shares in the payout. Two examples of this are made in the film. Companies use their “Dead Peasant” projections to bolster their bottom line. In other words, they count on a certain number of employee deaths to bring in a certain amount of capital. This is an absolute disgrace!

Or is it? Walking away from the film I was struck by the thought… I work too hard. I slave over people’s movies, providing sound editorial, hiring vendors and renting huge mix stages. I spend tons of money on my own film projects hoping that the investment will make a return. Americans and American companies used to work hard, too, until during the Reagan years a program was started to reduce the amount of jobs and increase profits, which eventually led companies to move the work to other, cheaper countries and rid Americans of the jobs they’d been doing for forty years. Those who have continued to strike it rich in the last two decades have done so by doing nothing. They push paper around. They bet on risk, other people’s misfortunes, natural disasters (please read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”) and when their own bets come up snake eyes… they put their hands out. You go from privatized profit to socialized loss.

It’s a love story alright… a co-dependent, dysfunctional mess… I had one of those for five years, won’t be doing that again. If only people could see the situation from the persepective of a mirror in their faces, then they might be able to avoid the trap that this system has laid for them time and again.  Until then… it’s the sucker who keeps going back to the abusive spouse. We’ll read about you in the paper when it goes too far.

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One Response to “Capitalism: A Love Story”

  1. No one has ever promised “great wealth” to Americans. The promise of America remains as it has always been; the greatest opportunity on earth to improve one’s life, financially and otherwise. American’s standard of living approaches twice what Europeans experience and far outdistances the people of any other nation on earth, including the newly “wealthy” Chinese. If that’s not good enough, try another solar system.

    Funny that you mention the taking away of entitlements. Government gave the entitlements, so government has every right to take them away. That’s the chief problem for people who habitually belly up to the government trough. The dependent will be disappointed because sooner or later, as Margaret Thantcher put, “you run out of other people’s money.” The solution, one that excapes more and more Americans, is to work hard and smart, and live within your means. That’s good advice for governments too.

    Regarding companies buying life insurance on their employees, too bad the employees don’t unserstand the value of life insurance like their employers do. By the way, the employees know full well this practice exists. They must sign the application and submit to underwriting requirements. The employees could take the same opportunity to purchase life insurance that would protect their families. The only catch is, they’d have to pay the premiums. If it’s such a good deal for the employers, it must be a good deal for the families.

    Finally, I wouldn’t worry about a revolution from the left. Liberals are far too accustomed to “letting Uncle Sam do it” to fight for themselves. It’s the middle class right that should concern you.

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