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Thread: Movie Review: Capitalism: A Love Story

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Movie Review: Capitalism: A Love Story

    Tonight I saw Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story

    Here is the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhydyxRjujU

    You will see some attempts at humor but its really a dead serious movie and one that nicely puts historical and recent events together in a cohesive way. I know that some see Moore's style of movie making as being slanted or biased toward's *his* reality or *his* point of view. Ok probably guilty here but this is true for many documentaries if not all.

    The movie is somewhere between a documentary and a non-fiction but, as most Michael Moore movies do to me, they make me leave the movie theater pissed off. Not at Michael but at the situation he is trying to describe.

    I think the movie did a good job in crystalizing the current financial meltdown and further did a good job in pointing at the sources of the problem. Ronald Regan didn't emerge unscaved and neither did the Bush'es. The treasury is portrayed as an extension of Goldman Sachs and the $700 Billion bailout was a bank robbery of the grandest proportions all orchestrated by the powers in play as virtually an intelligence operation.

    Did you know that American corporations (including Wal-Mart just to name one in particular) takes our secret life insurance policies on their employee's, payable to the corporation? The employee doesn't know about it and its all nicely tucked into a law called 'Dead Peasants' hmmm... The company bets on employees that it feels are good risks to be dead within reasonable periods of time. Its all incredibly legal ! Steve Perlman you there?

    The dismantleing of the american dream was detailed and one fact that resonated as that 1% of the population of the US now holds 95% of the wealth.

    The opening of the movie was nicely compared to fall of the Roman Empire, fact by fact, analogy by analogy.

    Whatever problems we think we have in Wayland, I am very sure that Wayland and in particular, our state, is the place to be. We have strong health care legislation, we still have university density, we still have high tech and we are an educated population.

    New England will be the most difficult area of the country to subdue in the even of martial law which is looming as unemployment goes up and desperation sets in.

    OK... this must be the aftermath of a Michael Moore movie.
    But don't dismiss him so quickly. In fact, he may be a pop culture hero and an important message deliverer.

    I hope others see this movie and chime in.

    I'm giving this movie... Two Thumbs Up.

  2. #2
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    Default C'mon now...

    What? Nobody is a movie critic...
    I mean all we ever talk about here is school this and school that...
    Override this and override that...
    Website this and website that...

    Or is it just me?

  3. #3
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    Default Oh Alan, you’re such the revolutionary

    I bet if we elected you selectman again, you’d pass legislation that’d ensure you’d be dictator for life, just like all those leftist/socialist pinky comm-e b_____s (how would you spell “comm-e”?)

    I haven’t seen the movie but I read the following movie review by “The Economist”. They have a bit different take. (Is this plagierism, copy right infringment? Am I going to jail? Or how can I profit from using their copy?)

    “False profits or false prophet?

    Another tendentious take-down from the showman

    The big screen’s polemicist-in-chief is back. In “Capitalism: A Love Story”, Michael Moore turns his camera and loud-hailer to the identity crisis that has gripped the world’s most enduring economic system. His conclusion is characteristically punchy: capitalism is inherently evil, “a system of giving and taking…mostly taking.” His line of argument is also characteristically simplistic.

    Mr Moore is a showman, and his film is studded with trademark stunts. Some are funny, for instance his wrapping of crime-scene tape around the headquarters of bailed-out Wall Street firms to the bemusement of security guards. The footage of the botched attempts by experts to explain derivatives is hilarious.

    His mastery of the issues is less assured. In his black-and-white world, there is no middle class, just “the people who got it all and the people who got nothing”, as one dispossessed homeowner puts it. Forget greedy borrowers, napping regulators or global economic imbalances. The recession is entirely the fault of Wall Street’s robber-barons and, in a novel reading of Detroit’s woes, corporate bosses who drove their companies into the ground because of, not in spite of, their determination to slim down their operations and break the power of the unions.

    As in “Fahrenheit 9/11”, his film about America’s response to the attacks on the World Trade Centre, Mr Moore sees conspiracies everywhere. The $700 billion bail-out after Lehman’s collapse was no genuine attempt to stave off depression, but a financial coup d’état, staged by big banks. Like nefarious screen villains, the bankers “had a simple plan: to remake America to serve them.”

    So busy is Mr Moore imagining such shenanigans and resorting to class-struggle theatrics, and so hectoring his tone, that he risks leaving even his fans unmoved. Tellingly, the film’s first-weekend box office take was well below expectations. His biggest failure, however, is his inability to articulate a plausible alternative to the system he loathes.

    He talks fuzzily of more democracy, but it is not clear what he means. He likes small, co-operatively run firms, but how that model could be made to work for multinationals is far from clear. In the end, Mr Moore fails to produce a convincing riposte to the argument that capitalism, though prone to the occasional spectacular bust, is the economic system best able to correct its own excesses.”

    So Alan, did he have a solution/recommendation?

    donBustin@verizon.net

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    Default Now thats what I was looking for...

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I bet if we elected you selectman again, you’d pass legislation that’d ensure you’d be dictator for life, just like all those leftist/socialist pinky comm-e b_____s (how would you spell “comm-e”?)
    Aren't you one of the guys who said that there is communist behind every Bush?

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I haven’t seen the movie
    Well then damn-it see the movie and you don't have to live vicariously through the eyes of "The Economist".

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Am I going to jail?
    Only if I were re-elected selectman and declared myself dictator.

    Now Don you've pasted all of the review from somebody else and I would be much more interested in hearing what you had to say after seeing the movie.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    So Alan, did he have a solution/recommendation?
    In fact, Michael Moore did have a suggestion and recommendation but it came from Franklin Delano Roosevelt about 14 months prior to death, the movie shows a newsreel of this speech which is only audio on the youtube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaghvZWVrl8

    The irony that the movie points out is that Germany, Italy and Japan put into place most if not all of these 'workers bill of rights' after the war due to the reconstruction programs financed by America.

    This bill was not put into place in America and was dropped.
    It died with him.

    Thanks for responding Don and see the movie.

  5. #5
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    Default Sorry, Alan (Been too busy lately to post)

    I have seen the movie and it is terrific.
    I’d heard that the critics had panned it. Perhaps the media companies that the critics work for are so entrenched in their own capitalist motives that they weren’t allowed to speak out against Big Brother. [frown]

    The part about the “Dead Peasant” policies was most disturbing. Even if they are legal, they certainly are disgusting.

    I agree with Alan that Moore does present some solutions, but even if he didn’t, that’s not the point of this expose´ film anyway. He is not required to have all the answers. He has fulfilled his role quite well by simply providing a thought-provoking, informative, infuriating and as always, humorous documentary about some things that people really ought to be paying attention to.

    For those who think of Moore as too biased, - he is just as hard on some Democrats as he is on Republicans in this film. I highly recommend this movie, no matter what your political affiliation. It's not perfect and there may be times when you feel less sympathetic toward the little guy who got screwed than Moore had intended, as a friend of mine did. Nonetheless, it is a real eye-opener to many things in our political system.

    And more than once during the film, I was reminded of our own little slice of paradise, Wayland…

    .
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Default

    Alan, you're right to suggest that the discussion forum's range of topics could be expanded. We could talk about anything. Cooking, the weather, plays in town, anything really. A broader range of topics might engender broader participation.

    I've got some topic ideas, but first, back to government for a moment. The movie prompts me to wonder why people seem to understand why monopolies in the economy are a bad thing. But they don't seem to make the extension to government. It's a monopoly that has many of the same deficiencies as the economic type. And it has no desire to fix itself. Washington, Wayland too.

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    Default Other topics

    The user's of this discussion forum will ultimately decide which topics will be of interest or not. You could post a cooking thread but if nobody replies then...

    I posted this particular movie because it was directly related to the times we are in and it proposes a number of cause/effect theories. The movie did a good job in creating a chronological order to the events that all seem like a blur over the past 18 months.

    Monopolies are dangerous. The "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is the problem with monopolies. Thats why the government has put into place anti-monopoly legislation which has been on the books for quite a while: See Wiki:

    The Sherman Antitrust Act (Sherman Act,[1] July 2, 1890, ch. 647, 26 Stat. 209, 15 U.S.C. § 1–7) requires the United States Federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies and organizations suspected of violating the Act. It was the first Federal statute to limit cartels and monopolies, and today still forms the basis for most antitrust litigation by the United States federal government.

    But just take one current example. Wal-mart comes into an area and because of it sheer size, it can undercut prices with competing stores and put those stores out of business. When those stores go out of business then those jobs go away and they are replaced by Wal-Mart jobs. If Wal-Mart is the only local employer (or a major retail employer which controls most of the jobs in that sector), then Wal-Mart can shift full time jobs to part time jobs to eliminate health insurance benefits. Along with that Wal-Mart can pay less per hour and degrade scheduling flexibility which causes their workers to not be able to get other part time jobs to supplement their income. Wal-Mart is documented to have had great adverse effects on localized areas and through all this, Wal-Mart can pay for this by undercutting the prices vs. any of its competitors who don't have these adverse employment practices.

    Wal-Mart's practices are so extreme, a substantial website was created to watch them and document them. Have a look:

    http://walmartwatch.com/

    I use Wal-Mart because it is an example of a company which is NOT a monopoly globally but is a monopoly locally and acts like one whenever it gets the chance.

    Government is a monopoly with a constitution and a vote. It has checks and balances.

    In the case of Wal-Mart, the buyers can choose to vote with their wallets and change the game. Perhaps this is what will happen.

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    Default What happened to all the discussions?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    Government is a monopoly with a constitution and a vote. It has checks and balances.

    In the case of Wal-Mart, the buyers can choose to vote with their wallets and change the game. Perhaps this is what will happen.
    The world is much different, as is government and its role in society, than when our political systems were first designed. The checks and balances help constrain groups within government from gatheirng too much power to themselves, not in restraining the government at large from acting as a monopoly (not being intrusive, or arbitrary, not charging more than it should, not being less productive/efficient than it might be – if only there was some built-in mechanism for promoting better monopolist government).

    As you know, the Constitution is a rather simple procedural document about how to run the government. People usually mean the “amendments” when talking about the Constitution, and the amendments certainly gave people many rights, but they were primarily directed at the excesses of the British treatment of the colonists and minorities that were not represented equitably, not at limiting a government that accounts for almost half of the Gross Domestic Product and dispenses immense benefits to its chosen groups.

    Voting could work, but only if people were informed and their representatives were less effected by their own financial considerations. So far, the “public story” protrayed by the various media seems inadequate as far as describing how government policies effect the nature of things or suggesting any course of action that would make government function better.

    Contrary to Michael Moore’s underlying thesis, isn’t it the capitalist “market” that provides the best tool for constraining the excesses of a “Wal-Mart”? Companies can provide an alternative business model and the consumer can go somewhere else.

    Isn’t this just what is missing from the government’s monopoly? Voting for our “representatives” notwithstanding, we have no choice about the monies the government takes or how they’re spent. There is no competing entity, and we can not take our business elsewhere. This seems a worse kind of monopoly, one that’s open to all sorts of abuse.

    donBustin@verizon.net

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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Isn’t this just what is missing from the government’s monopoly? Voting for our “representatives” notwithstanding, we have no choice about the monies the government takes or how they’re spent. There is no competing entity, and we can not take our business elsewhere. This seems a worse kind of monopoly, one that’s open to all sorts of abuse.
    That's a pretty darn big "notwithstanding"!

    I'm not entirely sure if you have in mind national government or local government in these comments.

    At the national level, I can't imagine how we could have 300 million people contributing to these decisions other than via representative government. What would you suggest?

    At the local level, we actually do vote on every line item in the budget.

    As for not taking our business elsewhere, on the state and local level, we certainly can. How well local government is run, the decision it makes the outcomes it produces, have much to do with how people make decisions about where to live.

    On the national level, is there somewhere else you'd rather go?

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    Default Lies, damn lies, statistics, and spin!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    At the local level, we actually do vote on every line item in the budget.
    Whether or not this is technically accurate, it is very deceiving.

    Last year, Wayland Public Schools spent just over $47,000,000, the lion’s share of the town’s money. Until recently, the School Committee wasn’t even aware of an annual $9000 expense for ski-lift tickets for Wayland’s ski team. Whether or not the ski team is worthy of such a financial commitment is not the argument here.

    The point is that the committee that voted on and approved the budget that represents 70% of the town’s money was unaware of this recurring charge. As were the voters.

    This of course begs the question – what else don’t we know about.

    If something needs to be on its own line item in order for people to vote on it, we might need more line items.

    During an economic climate in which massive numbers of people are losing their jobs or being asked to cut their hours, our school committee gave our administrators each a raise. During this same period, some administrators in other towns throughout Massachusetts were taking voluntary pay cuts.

    Ours got a raise. I’m not sure where the line item is that we all got to vote on to allow for that….

    (apologies to Dave Bernstein for butchering his signature line in my title.)

    .
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Last year, Wayland Public Schools spent just over $47,000,000, the lion’s share of the town’s money.
    I'm interested to know how you arrive at your $47M number. The FY10 school budget is $31.1M, a shade over 50% of the total town budget of $62.1M. Even factoring in school expenses that appear in municipal budgets (school nursing in the Health Department, debt and interest, etc.) and using 67% as the total school share, we only get to $41.6M.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Until recently, the School Committee wasn’t even aware of an annual $9000 expense for ski-lift tickets for Wayland’s ski team. ... the committee that voted on and approved the budget that represents 70% of the town’s money was unaware of this recurring charge. As were the voters.
    I'll repeat what's been discussed exhaustively in this forum in the past.

    1. Ski lift tickets represent less than 0.03% of the ~$31M school budget--this amount is akin to $30 in a household earning $100k.

    2. It's impractical to review a budget at the line item level. Rather, it makes sense to deconstruct the budget "from the top," looking at broad-based metrics such as overall breakdown (salary, materials/supplies, transportation, utilities, etc.), average salary, student-teacher ratio, per pupil expenditure, cost per athlete per sport, and so on.

    3. I contend that the School Committee studies the budget in more detail than most boards overseeing $30M companies.

    4. As is appropriate, more detailed budget review happens at the Superintendent, administrator, principal, and teacher levels. At each of these steps, those responsible have access to limited resources and make decisions about how best to deploy those resources.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I'm interested to know how you arrive at your $47M number.
    The National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Department of Education, I believe.

    Total Expenditures: $47,035,000

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    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    The National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Department of Education, I believe.

    Total Expenditures: $47,035,000
    But how do you reconcile that with what's in the school budget book and the town warrant, on which the residents of Wayland actually voted?

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    Default Is this up to ME to reconcile?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    But how do you reconcile that with what's in the school budget book and the town warrant, on which the residents of Wayland actually voted?
    That’s a very good question.

    The answer to which I think will be found by looking inward, to your fellow School Committee members or the Administration, and not to an average citizen.

    Presumably, the state gets its numbers from the town. If it reports that our total expenditures were $47,035,000, either the town provided that information to the state or it’s a typo.
    If it’s not a typo, then the numbers in the town warrant and school budget book must be wrong.

    Which is it?

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    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    I don't know the potentially convoluted process by which information gets from the town to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to the federal Department of Education and then down to its National Center for Education Statistics. I am fairly sure, however, that the information reported by the town, in both the School Budget Book and the Warrant, accurately represents expenditures funded by Wayland residents and other sources (for instance, Chapter 70 education aid).

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