Capitalism is not like any of Michael Moore’s other movies. It’s more thoughtful, and more thought-provoking. It does not rely on anecdotes and heartbreaking stories like Sicko does. The stories are there, and they are heartbreaking, but the tone is one of near-despair.
For the first time, Moore talks of the moral aspect. Is it right that the richest 1% in our country have more wealth than the 95% under them combined? If this is capitalism at work, and it clearly is, it is no longer a political issue, but a moral one.
Moore is a believer in democracy, but not capitalism. He does not say “unregulated” capitalism, which would be an easier message to sell. He indicts capitalism, which he believes owns our government. Remember how people responded to the first attempt by Congress to pass the Wall Street bailout? They called their congressmen, they faxed, they visited their representatives in such numbers the measure failed. FAILED! Then the movers and shakers, those who actually control our government, went to work. A few days later, days filled with fear-mongering of the worst kind, the measure passed.
It’s not just the lobbyists and campaign donations. The Treasury Department, under Clinton, Bush, and now Obama, is filled with Goldman Sacks loyalists like Hank Paulsen, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers. Because of these people and others of like mind, the banks got their money and the people got nothing. Worse than nothing. Many of us lost out homes, our jobs, and our health insurance in the process.
Maybe a better word for the tone of the movie – rather than despair – is sadness. Sadness that we, the people, have the power to change this – and we have not done so.
He believes that by holding out the carrot of – you too can one day own mansions and yachts and all the trappings of excessive wealth – the capitalists have sold the American worker a bill of goods, and we’ve bought it. The reality is we can’t all be rich.
The movie is not without hope. He shows us a family in Miami thrown out of their home who were able to move back in. Workers who staged a sit-in to get the wages they were owed. There is hope. There are examples of near riot, near revolution. There is Moore, driving a Brinks truck through the streets of New York, Moore trying to make a citizen’s arrest, Moore wrapping yellow, crime scene tape around Wall Street financial institutions, Moore with a money bag, attempting to get our money back. He never gets inside the buildings.
In a way, it’s a fitting image. Wall Street won this round. If we don’t do something, if we don’t vote the bastards out, if we don’t become more politically active, things will only get worse.