4 October 2009: Greedocracy? A Love Story?
Picture an early-autumn Sunday afternoon in Georgetown near the waterfront. The brick sidewalks of M Street are alive with tourists, college students, and even a few townies like me. The sun is shining down from a clear blue sky, and the outdoor cafes are filled with lively, comfortable, happy people.
Only an occasional homeless person sits slumped against a building, ignored. You'd never guess that elsewhere life is not so rosy.
Michael Moore, admittedly qualified to own a wardrobe of silk ties, has released his latest eloquent protest film, Capitalism: A Love Story. The love is for the victims of capitalism, the working class that recalls his own background, those suffering from the foreclosures that he says occur every 7.5 minutes (it may be seconds--I didn't take notes) and the epidemic of layoffs.
The chronically poor and/or chronically homeless receive little attention, except in some heartbreaking footage of the holocaust wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
FDR is lionized for the second bill of rights he wanted to pass: our rights to a home, jobs, and state-sponsored healthcare and education. Like Moses, the subject of a recent Time Magazine online article, he died before seeing his dream realized, but unlike the Children of Israel, we Americans never reached that promised land. Instead, as the Marshall Plan rescued Japan, Germany, and Italy, among other European countries destroyed during World War II, Moore emphasizes the irony that our country granted these rights to them as it helped rebuild their governments.
The film is fraught with outrage at the post-Carter, gradual decimation of the working class as subsequent administrations gave freer and freer rein to the mercenary dynasty of the corporate and financial worlds, a form of capitalism that vaporized the American dream. Upward mobility receded as deregulation devoured more and more of the economy--the top one percent became wealthier than 95 percent of Americans.
An ironic case in point--the heroic pilot Sully Sullenberger's income was reduced by 40 percent as his colleagues confessed to salaries far below the poverty line, requiring them to augment their day jobs with waitressing and similar, strenuous work. Love of the work keeps these pilots in the air nonetheless.
In the wake of the exploded housing bubble, a new class of predators are buying up foreclosed homes and reselling them at profits above 200 percent. Corporations are purchasing life insurance policies on their employees, benefiting most from categories considered the safest, young women, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Poignant individual scenarios are filmed: one family in Florida refusing to leave their foreclosed property, supported by a large, sympathetic group of neighbors also concerned about the outcome for their own property values. Others are filmed torn away from ancestral properties, others staging a weeks-long sit-in in an abandoned factory building until the Bank of America consents to award them the impressive sum of $6,000 a head for wages unpaid after they were given three days' notice of their termination.
Democrats in Congress are depicted bought off in back rooms to allow for Bush 43's bailout of his "haves and have-mores."
Moore is filmed attempting a citizen's arrest of Wall Street moguls, before he ropes off predatory buildings with yellow tape and addresses the greedocracy through a megaphone.
Enter Barack Obama, the people's savior, the happy ending as we are restored to power and foreclosures are temporarily halted, before the next bailout occurs.