Capitalism: A Love Story,
directed by Michael Moore
(Overture, 2009)

Once again, Michael Moore tackles a tough subject and makes it understandable for the masses. This time, he's addressed the economic crisis in America and the battle between Wall Street and Main Street. While some may disagree with his flamboyant presentation, Moore takes dry subjects and adds interest and humanity. Is the film slanted, yes; however, in the places where Moore states factual numbers, those statements are verifiable. For example, the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in America have more assets than the other 99 percent.

Unfortunately, that top 1 percent wants to keep it that way, and they have so far had the means to do so. The key topic of this film is unrestrained capitalism resulting in unrestrained greed. As Machiavelli stated, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Citicorp coined a phrase for this position: plutonomy. The members of this elite society are doing their utmost to gain and maintain the power.

Some examples of capitalistic misuse of power:

Privatization for profit: The concept of private vs. public goods is detailed very well in the case of a juvenile detention center that was privatized in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Taxpayers ended up spending $58 million for the detention center. Due to collusion between juvenile judges and the private owners of the center, youths had less than five minutes before the bench prior to sentencing for months in detention. Key to this is that neither a judge nor probation worker determined when the kids were to be released -- that was left up to an employee of the center who answered to no one but a private sector boss.

"Dead Peasant" insurance: In these instances, major employers take out life insurance policies on their employees to the extent that their "human resources" are worth more to them dead than alive. One case, which I had read about prior to seeing the film, was a female Walmart employee. After her death, her husband was left with $100,000 in medical bills, while her employer collected $81,000 in life insurance benefits for her death.

In addition to cases like these, Moore discusses the history of the bailouts. Although an unprecedented number of Americans called their congressmen to oppose the bailouts, this corporate welfare scheme still ended up passing through Congress with little restraint on how the money was to be spent by the corporations.

One piece of good news was that many workers are taking back their power. Moore details a California bakery where employees draw a share commensurate with their input into the company. The CEO makes no more than a line worker here.

Moore states his case for the people of Main Street in a cogent, compassionate and entertaining fashion. The film is well worth seeing and is definitely quite educational.

review by
Becky Kyle

12 March 2011

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