November 22, 2009

Michael Moore and the lesson of tough love

Capitalism: A Love Story.

The antics of Michael Moore are entertaining. Wrapping a "Crime Scene" ribbon - trying to staunch the egregious slaughter of the middle class with a plastic ribbon. Symbolically funny and deeply depressing at the same time. Wall Street as the monolith of ignominy.

Juxtaposing America's plight in a not new historical context ( the decline and fall of the Roman Empire) with the present is interesting, and brings a few laughs, especially when the appearance of Dick Cheney's face coincides with the voice over "emperor". That slides over to a collage of several bank robbing scenes, the obvious message being: Capitalists are bank robbers with the veneer of legality draped over them.

The depiction and description of America's prosperity in the 40's and 50's (no competition while Europe and Japan were re-building ) offers insight into the amazing tenure of prosperity at that time. The good ol'days when the rich were taxed 90%. (90%? Really? That surprised me. )

Enter the straight shooter with the glint in his eye, Mr. Reagan and it all goes downhill from there. At least from Mr. Moore's point of view. Tax cuts, union bust ups, tax cuts, tax cuts. No more pay as you go, but borrow as you go.

During the course of this buffet of capitalist antics, we witness videotaped evictions by the victims themselves, interviews with grieving husbands and wives who found out about a morally corrupt practice corporations use. "Dead peasant insurance", internal code for "we take out insurance on our employees and hope they croak so that we get a hefty return". Yeah, that's pretty disgusting. The plight of the people on the street, the class formerly known as the "middle class" is sad.

Moore zooms in on secret memos from Goldman Sachs. One gets the impression they might fear the masses. Democracy. And that's where Moore hooks in, or at least, tries to.

Michael Moore asks us to participate. Participate in what exactly? Crushing capitalism?

Democracy instead of capitalism. Ok. Capitalism isn't a political system. Its an economic system,
yet rules with an rubber grip and determines & steers democracy. Democracy, supposedly, is by the people and for the people. Capitalism will not allow any form of just government. It only pursues its own interest. The interest of more money and more power.

What chance do we have against these corporations? A bit of insight into the tentacles of the Wall Street banks is offered. Some statements from politicians who squeaked opposition to the roll over bailout plan. I would have welcomed more details on what would could have happened if indeed, the bailout of the too-big-to-fail banks had been rejected. Now that would have made for some damn gripping drama.

You can draw several analogies. Any horror virus spreading turning humans into ravaging beasts movie will do here. They all pale in comparison. No blood spattering limb ripping gushing saber- toothed vampire or limb-ripping infected zombie instills as much horror in me as the silent fiber optics enabled waves bombarding us with relentless menace, pulsating around us.........the silent sound of cash constantly flowing......somewhere but sure not into the working man's pockets.

The complexity, aberration and insidiousness of capitalism gone haywire. Mission accomplished, Mr. Moore, but what are we supposed to do about it? I learned more by reading the excellent article by Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone. Or by listening 10 minutes to Elliot Spitzer on Rachel Maddow.

And didn't feel as helpless.

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