What do juvenile delinquents, sub-prime mortgage borrowers and regional airline pilots have in common? To an avid reader of the news, they have all been recent subjects of exploitation. But to filmmaker Michael Moore, these injustices are clear and decisive proof that American capitalism is deeply flawed.

His newest film, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story,” is a provocative, humorous but scattered and ultimately unmoving critique of what Moore calls ‘capitalism.” Beginning with a history of the free market economic system, the film unwinds into an endless exposition of the problems Moore believes capitalism has induced in American society.
In this documentary Moore continues to push the envelope of journalistic integrity in the personal interviews that make up much of the film. His leading questions and overly sympathetic demeanor are arguably manifestations of the exploitation he is trying to chronicle.

The supposed exploitation of the American people includes Wal-Mart buying insurance against the deaths of its employees and banks ‘stealing” homes from hardworking Americans. But however morbid Wal-Mart’s policy, no one is harmed by such a practice, and there is more than meets the eye in the stories of homes ‘in the family for generations” suddenly seized by banks.

Though not mentioned in the movie, these homeowners likely borrowed cash against the value of their homes and quickly found themselves unable to pay it back. One man whose home is being foreclosed on is shown packing his belongings into a top-of-the-line $40,000 pickup truck. Surely the banks are not the only ones who have been bitten by the parasitic bug of capitalism.

Giving up on his own exploitation of Americans, Moore’s final target is the ominous banking industry. It is amusing to watch the filmmaker and his several chins drive an armored car down Wall Street, demanding to be paid back billions in bailout funds, but Moore provides no warrant for this action. The only background provided about the banking industry is a list of connections between Goldman-Sachs, a successful investment bank and the United States Treasury.

This Goldman-Sachs/U.S. Treasury conspiracy theory rhetoric will amuse anyone familiar with the industry. The fact that our government is employing former leaders of the country’s most successful investment bank simply shows it has found the best and brightest bankers and economists. A Treasury department without such ties would be staffed with private-sector rejects or people without practical experience.
Moore is nave to assume the impressive rsums of the Treasury’s staff imply Wall Street has the U.S. Government in its pocket.

Moore predicts that the common American people will rise up in rebellion against the institutions he accuses of practicing systematic injustice.

Unfortunately for Moore, if the success of his movie is any indicator of an impending uprising, it will be a long time coming. In the 40 days since its release, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story” has grossed just over $13 million, a little more than half of what Moore’s most successful film, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,” earned in its first weekend.
What is wrong with this movie is, ironically, what it has succeeded in demonstrating is wrong with America. Moore and the evil corporate America he chronicles each have an agenda to serve, and they do so using similarly unethical tactics. Moore waits until well into the credits, the fine print of cinema, to inform viewers that Wal-Mart abandoned its life insurance policies nearly a decade ago. How is this any different from hiding an adjustable rate clause in a mortgage contract?

Green is a member of
the class of 2010.

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