I just saw Michael Moore’s latest film and, although I found it well worth watching, I did not appreciate it as much as I did “Fahrenheit 911” or “Sicko”. It may because the very broad topic of capitalism doesn’t lend itself as well to a two hour expose, or perhaps because the issue is too me less black and white than gun control and universal health care. But I think not. I think that the movie tried to cover too much, and flipped between journalistic coverage and comedy too sharply.
The premise is straightforward. Michael Moore and the Catholic Church (three priests are interviewed) believe that capitalism is both un-American and un-Christian. The olden days were better than today, at least with regard to economic equality (nothing said about the perpetual premise of pervasive poverty), and there have been many instances of injustice, particularly when it comes to kicking people out of their homes, or firing them, or when financial company executives take staggeringly large bonuses (paid too often from taxpayer funds). I can’t disagree with any of this and agree that there is a lot lacking in the economic policies of the country. I agree that capitalism has succeeded in part because of the success of its own propaganda, and that the Reagan years were devastating to the long term health of the country.
But it isn’t a black and white issue, and the answer is not, as Moore suggests, concentrating on democracy rather than economics. As one interviewee said about democracy: two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. That kind of democracy we obviously do not need.
The movie is very much pro-union, as you would expect, and strong arguments are made for the collective strength of union movements. The movie is very much against a Congress and administration(s) with financial ties to regulated industries, such as the banks and the mortgage industries; it is hard to argue with this, on the one hand, but on the other, who can understand financial markets other than those who have participated in the system?
You watch the movie and you are reminded of all of the injustices that you know about and ignore every day. And you do want to do something about them. But you know that it is virtually impossible to solve the problems, and that even Michael Moore, with all of his money and connections, can hardly make a dent in them.