Capitalism: A Love Story

Last Updated: December 10, 2011By Tags: ,

I’ve seen “Capitalism” and loved it.

Moore seems less manipulative than usual and except for a couple of mild false notes, this born-documentarist has written and directed a highly entertaining and moving film. Moore is a pitchman, and he makes an incredible pitch. As with his previous films, you will be upset, saddened, moved and angry beyond belief. But Moore knows that in order for his film to make an impact, he has to overdramatize things a little. ‘Capitalism’ starts with old movies reels about Rome’s splendeur and its later demise.

And since Michael Moore’s films would not be what they are without the personal testimonies, we watch in disbelief as he explains that a family just lost their home, a home they built themselves over twenty years ago. Not only this, but the bank pays them a thousand dollars to properly empty and clean it for the future owners. The injustice (and the insult) of it is unbearable and Moore makes sure to drive the point home for his audience. Later in the film, a family is being interviewed about the loss of the head of the household and how his employer had taken out a life insurance policy on him, collecting a over a million dollars upon his dying.

While the circumstances are obviously terribly unfair, Moore tries a little too much to tug at our heart’s strings so watch for that. But he’s done an excellent film and can be forgiven for it. Turns out the old boy is a bit of a sentimentalist anyway. Obviously the main thesis for the film is that capitalism is not the way to go, it is inherently flawed and allows schemes like credit swaps and derivatives to flourish.

More to the point, in a free-market capitalist state such as the U.S. people like Hank Paulson and Lloyd Blankfein are allowed free reign over how they place bets on billion dollar-plus pension funds with the complicity of the Democrats in cahoots with the Republicans. Moore seems to point to Ronald Reagan’s appointing of Don Regan as Treasury Secretary as the genesis for all our current problems. Regan had been Merrill Lynch’s CEO and chairman previously.

Talk about government getting in bed with Wall Street. Deregulation followed and the gradual process fueled by increasingly poor investment decisions led to last year’s mortgage crisis. I never really found outright evidence of Moore’s argument –ie., the government hiring someone whose business views could possibly run counter to what’s good for the majority of the people—but it makes for potent narrative.

You always learn something very interesting by watching a Michael Moore movie. It’s a cliché to say this, but this movie puts things in perspective.

I attended Columbia University, a liberal arts college. Columbia is very proud of its Core Curriculum, which offers our undergraduate body an education in the humanities. So I’ve always wondered why the majority of these young graduates of the Humanities end up working on Wall Street. Moore contends that that’s because they have astronomical student loans to repay. I believe something more sinister’s afoot. Greed is the new thing this 21st century and a million+ a year paycheck within two years is something that the American graduate is after. Saving the world comes, I would guess, a far second behind it in the reasons why people attend colleges like Columbia University.

At this opening-day showing of ‘Capitalism, a love story,’ the audience roared with laughter and gasped in disbelief. And at the end, they did something that I rarely see anymore. They stayed and watched the credits scroll until the very end.

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