Capitialism: A Love Story (2009)
Reviewed on 2009 October 5
I’m going to begin this by admitting some (okay, lots of) prejudice, because I may not have a name for what I am politically, but economically, I am a capitalist with a small “c”. As long as I’m not breaking laws or fleecing anyone to reach my goals, just clear a path and let me make my profit. I am naturally suspicious of anyone who wants to tell me what I may or may not earn, especially a movie maker, who sets out to criticize the system that made his line of work possible. I actually felt a great irony in paying to see this and would love to see what Michael Moore does with the profits, but my main gripe is that he’s faulting an entire economic system for the crooked behavior of some greed-head CEOs.
I thought Moore did a great job with Roger & Me, but he’s been increasingly guilty of getting flakier and flakier with his arguments. He starts with an old, creaky educational film about the Roman empire, laced with clips of the United States. It was entertaining but as a comparison I think he overshot here. As loony as some of my bosses were, I never had one flog me. In this uneven doc, he swings at bloated, corrupt CEOs and concludes that Capitalism itself is evil, complete with members of the Catholic clergy agreeing with him. I agree with him about the CEOs being heartless greedheads and about the sickening abuse by such companies as AIG of the bailout monies, and the Citigroup “Plutonomy” memo turned my stomach. I think my biggest issue was his discussion of socialism and warmly pointing at smaller countries where a more regimented system works. I’m not an economist so I could be wrong, but even if we were to want (gack) Socialism — and Moore never comes out and says that’s what he wants but he seems to want it — I think it would fail on a logistic level alone, because the size of our country would prohibit it.
And there’s the other problem. In one bit Moore highlights a Wisconsin bread company where everyone has a vote, with the CEO pointedly asking, “how many cars do you need?” That question always has a creepy side to it. The CEO of that company is a nice guy. The person who decides what they think you need likely won’t be, and if any system other than Capitalism were to be implemented, historically we’re gonna get that guy. Our country is in great financial trouble, but throwing out all the rules isn’t the answer. And at the very least, the implication that puny mortals like you or I want a fat profit entirely so we can make a bling run is offensive. Enough do-gooders get their way and we’ll never know, will we?
One morsel. Moore may have his heart in the right place. I think his head is another matter entirely.