Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Capitalism: A Love Story"

When I went to see Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" last night, I fully intended to purchase a ticket for a different film, just to get inside the theatre. (I wanted to see Moore's movie, but I have qualms about giving money to millionaire socialists.)
I forgot that plan in the ticket line. Oh well. I've supported worse.

I'd seen the preview, and had ranted on some of the same subjects.

Michael Moore creates movies in exchange for lots of $10.00 tickets.

Many of us value seeing Moore's movie more than we value our $10.00. Michael Moore values our $10.00 more than he values the time spent making his movies. Michael Moore and a lot of people made a voluntary financial exchange last night. That's called "Capitalism".

Why not engage in this voluntary Free Market exchange with Michael Moore, and let him explain to us why voluntary Free Market exchanges are evil?

If you're looking for a consistent, coherent attack on Capitalism, go elsewhere. The movie is a mishmash of attacks on things that Moore doesn't like, redeemed with some genuinely funny sight gags and film clips.
But if you want a beginner's guide to how Goldman Sachs looted the U.S. Treasury? Give Michael Moore your $10.00

Moore begins with footage from what he sees as America's Golden Years. Dad could buy a new car every three years, he had a pension, four weeks of vacation, and Mom didn't have to work. Why? Because during WW2, we bombed our economic competitors, Germany and Japan, into oblivion. (It was a preview of Cash For Clunkers. Destroy enemy cities, and then rebuild them. It creates jobs and stimulates the economy !!)

Then come some genuinely heartbreaking scenes of people being evicted from their homes, some of which had been in their families for generations. I don't remember any clear explanations of how homes that have been in one family for multiple generations can be foreclosured on, though. Was it an 80-year loan with a balloon note tacked on the end? Did the owners use the house as collateral for a business venture that didn't work out? Did the owner lose his job, and take out a loan against the property just to get by? I don't think Moore ever tells us.

A few of the episodes have so little to do with capitalism, they seem like they were filmed with another movie in mind. One episode where Moore went totally off the rails was an interlude about Judge Mark Ciavarella. This vile bastard, along with someone named Mark T. Conahan, took money under the table from a privately owned juvenile detention center, in exchange for sending more and more juvenile delinquents to the privately operated detention center.

I wrote an incoherent rant about Ciavarella and Conahan several months ago, and when Moore's attack on them began, I supressed an urge to walk down each row of seats and tell everyone to READ THIS.

But, like Michael Moore, I digress. Free Market Capitalism is about voluntary exchanges of time, merchandise, and property. Corrupt judges who can screw up the lives of 1,600 children by taking kickbacks are an argument for less government involvement in the economy, not more.

There are some funny scenes where the dialogue in an old Jesus movie is replaced with contemporary clutch-phrases. (A beggar comes to Jesus to be healed; Jesus turns him away because of a pre-existing condition.) I think the funniest one would be to have Jesus say "I don't think we should do this by ourselves. Let's get Caesar involved."

Then Moore got to the good part. He outlined how various financial institutions were making a fortune by placing exotic bets on the outcomes of our economic behavior. Hank Paulson got a lot of face time onscreen. Ditto for Larry Summers. Ditto for Tiny Timmy Geithner. You can quibble over Moore's choice of details, but he explains how that Unholy Trinity worked with Bush and a Democratic Congress to loot the Treasury. Timothy Geithner comes in for a lot of unexpected abuse. Even Chris Dodd's crimes against transparency got some screen time. I couldn't believe it.
It was more or less accurate and very entertaining, if you enjoy watching a comedy about how a pack of jackals got into your wallet.

Then the music changed. One could almost imagine the Lone Ranger riding over a hilltop. Moore's voice switched from despair to enthusiasm. The screen got brighter, and was suddenly filled with hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans, good solid Americans like you and me, and they were all focused on....

Barack Obama ! Barack Obama ! Barack Obama ! Holy shit, he's awesome ! !

And then everything got better? And then Obama didn't name Timmy The Tax Dodger Geithner to head up the Treasury? Larry Summers was banished from anywhere near the president's ear? Was Goldman Sachs Obama's #1 campaign contributor, or merely #2 ?? Coca-Cola went back to using sugar instead of corn syrup?

Did The Obamessiah come in and cleanse the temple? Or did he merely allow all the con artists to slide one seat higher in the pecking order?
We'll never know where Moore was headed with this awkward scenario, because the movie pivots over to a union strike at a door and window company.

Here's where it should've gone, though. The people who ripped you off with the Wall Street bailout are the people who ripped you off with the Stimulus Package. They take turns, leaving a few Geithners in place as a transition team.

You had no choice but to finance the Wall Street Bailout, the G.M. Bailout, and the Porkulus Package. Other people made that decision for you, and your grandchildren will have a diminished existence because of it. That's not capitalism. That's fascism. A corporatistic economic ideology where Government and business are intertwined.

Some billionaire capitalists financed this movie. A millionaire capitalist wrote it, directed it, and starred in it. That's ok. In our system, they have that choice.

This is the most pro-union movie I've ever seen, and workers should have a right to unionize. That's their choice. Employers should have a right to hire non-union workers. That's their choice.

Michael Moore has come under fire for using non-union labor to make this pro-union movie. Why did he use non-union labor? Because he had a choice.

If you support the right of billionaire producers to finance millionaire capitalist filmmakers who want to hire non-union labor to produce pro-socialist movies?

Please consider the Libertarian Party. We're Pro-Choice about everything.


Browncoat Libertarian said...

Thanks for saving me the 10 bucks (though I would have gone with your original strategy). Like every anti-capitalism "progressive" idiot, Michael Moore blames Capitalism and the alleged Free Market for the crimes committed by in-bed-with-government CRONY "capitalism"

Anyone who cheerleads for MM is a blithering idiot.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

I simply do not understand how these cretins can blame "free market capitalism" for our woes when it has not existed here since at least 1890.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

You really should see it before it leaves the theatres - I thought he was dead on great for about half the movie. I did some reading (for the first time) about Moore this a.m., and he usually admits to being less than consistent in his approach. He doesn't even strive for accuracy or fairness.

For instance, there was some stuff in the movie about Wal-Mart (among others) taking out life insurance policies on employees. Google it, and you'll see that WM hasn't had this program in place for more than 5 years. It's just a way to comfort pre-existing prejudices, plus get some laughs at WM's expense.

However....the stuff about Bush, Geithner, and Goldman Sachs was brilliant. Worth a ten spot.

Agreed. But Moore seemed careful not to use the word "Free Market". And when he was talking about "Capitalism", he usually wasn't referencing anything on the subject.
Weird little movie, but overall, I'm glad I went.

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

I was in New York and listening to New York Public Radio. Basically, Pravda Radio. They were interviewing Moore - and he talked about cooperatives, etc. First, nobody asked him if his production company that underwrote this film was a cooperative. I'm pretty sure it's not.

Second, they asked him straight up "Are you a Socialist?". Long pause. Again they ask. Finally he admits to have never read anything ever from Marx although he fully intends to at some point. But from what he's heard it's pretty awesome! This is the guy that the left is marching behind. Don't get me wrong, I think his movies are frequently funny and even sometimes spot on. But about 90% of the time, they're pretty maddening.