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Capitalism: A Love Story

October 2, 2009 - Michael Palmer
Today the new Michael Moore film hit’s the big screen. If you are like me, you would rather scratch your jock itch with a rabid porcupine than sit through another one of this director’s ultra-liberal films.

However, Moore's latest documentary is different from his film’s like Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore does not just focus on hammering the conservatives and republicans. This time he seems to be more mature and intellectual in his approach to solving the world’s problems. He takes the middle of the road while taking on the banking and insurance companies who congress gave our tax dollars to in a “bailout” program. The villain in this film is not the Republicans or even the banks, but capitalism itself, which the film portrays as a mega-corporate conspiracy intent on lining the pockets of the few at the expense of the masses.

The film winds it’s way through a series of insurance scams, sub-prime bubbles and derivative trading so evasive, unclear and confusing that even the experts can't explain how it works. Simplifying the mess into a moral universe inhabited by good little guys and evil big ones.

America, enthuses a leaked Citibank report, is now a modern-day "plutonomy" where the top 1% of the population controls 95% of the wealth. Does Barack Obama's election spell an end to all this? The director has his doubts, pointing out that Goldman Sachs – depicted here as the principal agent of wickedness – was the largest private contributor to the Obama campaign.

Moore illustrates the absurdity with human stories behind the headlines. The film begins with a pair of bumbling bankrobbers caught on CCTV. An old man in a Hawaiian shirt and a boy wearing a ski mask. The pair is compared to what Moore deems the real crooks: the banking CEOs who recently absconded with $700 billion of public money, no strings attached. That's what's known as a clean getaway. Most significant of these human interest tangents is the privatized youth detention facility in Pennsylvania, run with the help of a crooked local judge who railroaded kids through his court for a cut of the profits. Some 6,500 children were later found to have been wrongly convicted for such minor infractions as smoking pot and "throwing a piece of steak at my mom's boyfriend". The subsequent bill for their incarceration went directly to the taxpayer.

Moore's conclusion? That capitalism is fundamentally un-American and evil. He suggests that it is beyond regulation and should be eliminated. Once again, he goes on an investigative reporter style campaign against the guilty parties, barging into corporate offices and barking at their CEO‘s through a bull horn.

"I need some advice!" Moore shouts to a Wall Street trader who has just left his office and is hustling to his car. "Don't make any more movies!" the man shoots back in retort. Moore chuckles at that, but the last laugh is his. This film may waken the sleeping masses and the silent majority may not remain quiet for much longer.


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