Capitalism: A Love Story — The perils of greed and injustice

Film:Capitalism: A Love Story Movie Poster

Capitalism: A Love Story

Starring Michael Moore

Synopsis (From IMDB):

On the 20-year anniversary of his groundbreaking masterpiece Roger & Me, Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story comes home to the issue he’s been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). But this time the culprit is much bigger than General Motors, and the crime scene far wider than Flint, Michigan. From Middle America, to the halls of power in Washington, to the global financial epicenter in Manhattan, Michael Moore will once again take film goers into uncharted territory. With both humor and outrage, Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story explores a taboo question: What is the price that America pays for its love of capitalism? Years ago, that love seemed so innocent. Today, however, the American dream is looking more like a nightmare as families pay the price with their jobs, their homes and their savings. Moore takes us into the homes of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down; and he goes looking for explanations in Washington, DC and elsewhere. What he finds are the all-too-familiar symptoms of a love affair gone astray: lies, abuse, betrayal…and 14,000 jobs being lost every day. Capitalism: A Love Story is both a culmination of Moore’s previous works and a look into what a more hopeful future could look like. It is Michael Moore’s ultimate quest to answer the question he’s posed throughout his illustrious filmmaking career: Who are we and why do we behave the way that we do?

My Thoughts:

I was a little skeptical going into this film because Michael Moore can be a bit of a bully in his films, but I really liked the message of this one.  Michael Moore looks at how capitalism enables greed and the accumulation of wealth into the hands of the few.  Really what this film is about is injustice.  There is a poignant part of the film in which there are protesters who were illegally laid off without notice or backpay and they were holding up signs that said “All religions promote justice”.    But I get ahead of myself.

Moore’s true critique comes in the deregulation of capitalism.  We have had this experiment for a while, but during the first half of the century regulations were put in place to cap greed and to put use wealth to help all of society.  The myth is that those who work hard will make more money, but Moore looked at airline pilots who were on food stamps and others who were clearly working hard but not getting by, versus those in the financial industry who capitalize off the labor of others without adding any value to that labor.

Moore is not criticizing rich people in general.  What he is criticizing is those who get rich at the expense of others, those who are willing to take 10 million dollar bonuses when there are others in their company who are either being laid off or working below the poverty line. And he is criticizing the poor for falling for the American Dream and allowing deregulation in hopes that one day they too will be rich.  And he is criticizing the government for putting the needs and interests of the richest 1% ahead of the rest of the citizens’ needs.

The problem is that with wealth should come responsibility.  There should be gratitude with having material means and stability, and there are some wealthy who practice the virtue of generosity and work to help the poor.

O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH! The poor in the midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease. ~Baha’u’llah

or if you prefer sterner language:

O CHILDREN OF DUST!  Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth.  To give and be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues. ~Baha’u’llah

The problem is that poverty leads to instability.  Poverty leads to desperation and raised crime rates.  If we want peace we have to work on ending poverty, on creating jobs and protecting our poor over profits.

“The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war. Few societies have dealt effectively with this situation. The solution calls for the combined application of spiritual, moral and practical approaches. A fresh look at the problem is required, entailing consultation with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines, devoid of economic and ideological polemics, and involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made. It is an issue that is bound up not only with the necessity for eliminating extremes of wealth and poverty but also with those spiritual verities the understanding of which can produce a new universal attitude. Fostering such an attitude is itself a major part of the solution.”
(The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3)

In the end this is how we will be judged and how Michael Moore already is judging the American society.  There was a time when we enacted a New Deal, when we championed a Great Society but that is no longer.  Instead the middle class is eroding and poverty rates are increasing as we deal with this economic crisis created by the greed of the financial industry and what is essentially legalized gambling (microtrading).

A democratic society is to be judged not by its success in catering to the needs of its privileged members or even its average ones. Instead, look at how it treats the poor, the disadvantaged, the ill – and the unpopular. ~ Lord Wolf, UK’s Chief Justice

6 thoughts on “Capitalism: A Love Story — The perils of greed and injustice

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing Moore’s latest film and I’m glad that there still is someone like him out there to question the status quo. Money and wealth are forms of energy that are healthiest for society when it circulates. You can’t buy anything and participate in the economy when you don’t have a job much less industries to work in. By the way, do we make anything anymore? As for the “middle class”, you probably meant to say people with “middle class values” since we have so many billionaires now, they tend to skew the statistics. You probably would have to earn a couple hundred thousand dollars a year now to technically be considered middle class.

    • It is true that we would have to look at median income and not mean, since 1% of American’s control 95% of the wealth would skew any average. You make some good points and I bet you would like his film. It is good to have someone who can put a mirror up to society and force us to look at ourselves and evaluate. Questioning is good. It fosters learning and growth. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Great review! Can’t wait to see it! I think this part is the key to the success of development projects:
    “A fresh look at the problem is required…involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made”

    • Thank you! I hope you enjoy it. I like how the story is case study and people based rather than theoretical. We need to actually see the people on the ground rather than just talk about numbers and statistics. Like credit card debt. It’s easy to say that people who rack up credit card debt are living beyond their means, and there definitely people who do that and buy the big screen TVs and what have you, but there are also people who end up using credit cards to buy groceries and pay for utilities because they just aren’t paid a living wage. When you look at actual people and their circumstances it is a lot hardy to be stingy. It becomes real. Thank you again for your comment.

  3. I know Moore addressed the health care issue in an earlier movie but I couldn’t help think of what’s currently passing for “debate” on that issue in the US when I read this phrase: “devoid of economic and ideological polemics”. The biggest threat to US society as I see it, is that we have too many politicians for whom winning is more important than being right. And a media that encourages it, because the fights boost ratings! We won’t have a functional society unless/until we do make policy decisions in a way that is “devoid of economic and ideological polemics”.

    • That is a very good point. So often in politics, especially partisan politics, the object becomes winning instead of governing for the people and trying to make the best decisions for society as a whole rather than for those who support (financially) your campaign. Greed infects people. Greed for ambition, or for personal interests over the interests of the society and community at large. I am not sure how we can change it other than to talk about it and recognize those issues in ourselves and work to change personally. Perhaps it can then trickle up (as opposed to down) society.

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