and slacker hero Michael Moore gave a gift to working America: an
explanation of what happened.
In short, capitalism happened.
Moore was invited by the California Nurses Association and the AFL-CIO
to show his newest movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story," and lead a march
for single-payer health care at the labor convention here on Sept. 14. He accepted and
re-arranged his schedule to do it, delaying the planned Los Angeles
Instead of stars parading down the red carpet waving to the
paparazzi like with other movie premieres, mineworkers, steelworkers,
nurses and lots of other workers and professionals marched with the
Academy Award winner demanding health care for all. It was a
celebration of, by and for ordinary hard-working people who have odds
stacked against them.
It was a movie premiere like no other, for a movie like no other.
Moore masterfully splices together the absurdities of free market
propaganda with the real life stories of what happens when a whole
system is just about "maximizing profit."
The audience exploded into clapping, or booing and hissing, depending on who was on the screen through out the feature.
The next day Moore sent out this e-mail: "But it wasn't till last
night, at the annual convention of the AFL-CIO in downtown Pittsburgh that a packed house of rank-and-file union members -- plumbers and
nurses and steelworkers and 73 other trades -- watched the U.S.
premiere of our film and, I kid you not, the roof practically came off
the place as the credits rolled. I've never witnessed, in my 20 years
as a filmmaker, such a response to one of my movies. I'm sure the
theater management must have been thinking a riot was going to break
out. After years of having the crap kicked out of working people of
this country, the crowd in Pittsburgh was ready to rumble after
watching two hours of cinema that laid it all out about how Corporate
America has gotten away with murder. I was profoundly moved by this
overwhelming and enthusiastic response. I simply can't wait to bring
this movie to your town and for you to see it! I know you will be
shocked and surprised by a lot of what you will see in it. Once again,
I've set out to show you things the nightly news doesn't dare show you.
There will be some very wealthy men who will not be happy about this
film's release. So be it. It's a free country, but more importantly,
it's OUR country. It doesn't belong to the richest 1% who now -- are
you ready for this -- have more financial wealth than the entire bottom
95% of the country combined!! "
Moore chooses to delve into the last 30 years after the rise of
Ronald Reagan and the far-right, corporate crowd which went to town
privatizing, deregulating and cutting taxes for the super-wealthy.
Moore shows production and profits skyrocketing, while jobs are cut and
wages are frozen.
Cutting away to his 1989 Roger and Me, he has GM executive saying they
will cut all the jobs for the company's health. Guess that strategy
didn't work too good.
But it's the irresponsible Bush administration and the inevitable
global financial and housing collapse in September last year that is at
the heart of the movie. The rush for a $700 billion bailout for the
largest banks and financial institutions in the country is rightly
portrayed as a well-planned heist by these liars, thieves and vultures.
Moore doesn't hold back in implicating the Congressional Democratic
leadership in enabling the grand theft. Ninety-five percent of the
movie places the blame for the current crisis on Republican policies
and their marriage with major corporate and Wall Street interests in
But Moore reserves the rest of the criticism for Robert Rubin of
Citigroup and the Clinton administration push for privatization and
deregulation under the name of free trade. Rubin along with his
acolytes, economic adviser Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Tim
Geithner, both Obama appointees, are all implicated in the economic
This is a major point of unease for those on the left and
progressive movement. But as socialist and Washington Post columnist
Harold Meyerson points out, FDR had some pro-Wall Street advisers
around him as well. And like Moore, Meyerson emphasizes the importance
of a mobilized progressive grassroots movement. "Where are we?" Moore
asked the crowd.
Yet Moore has a dramatic scene about how the election of President
Barack Obama has ushered in a whole new era for working people.
Moore does some excellent expose journalism. Bringing to life some of
the stories that don't make national news night after night. Like Blue
Chip corporations taking out life insurance policies on employees to
enrich themselves when they die, but not the family. In teary-eyed
segments, Moore interview families who lost loved ones while Wal-Mart
or other corporations collect on their deaths. (And judges being paid to
send teenagers to a private, for-profit juvenile detention center.)