Capitalism – a Love Story Review
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Capitalism: A Love Story In Capitalism: A Love Story, director Michael Moore looks at events both before and after the financial crash of 2008. He explores both the causes of the crash and the effects it had on the US as well as examples of capitalism taken to the extreme – where morality is forgotten in the pursuit of profit and shareholder value. The recession is used as the prime example of the negatives of capitalism as Michael Moore suggests ways in which recessions can be avoided and excess curbed in order to create a fairer and more equal society. This film was selected because it explores the future of work in context. Rather than analysing it from a purely economic perspective, it looks at the political and legal framework in which jobs are placed and challenges common American perceptions towards jobs and the accumulation of wealth. Michael Moore is a documentary filmmaker who explores the most divisive topics in the US such as capitalism, healthcare and gun ownership.The film starts with an interesting comparison between Ancient Rome and modern America. The film quotes Life in Ancient Rome; ‘the magnificent façade of the empire could not conceal the seeds of decay, the unhealthy dependence of the economy on slaves, the disparity between rich and poor.’ It goes onto say that ‘escape from the slums was difficult, where there were few jobs available and practically none for the unskilled.’ Ancient Rome, once the centre of civilisation, followed a path that on the surface mirrors events in modern America; the growing economic divide, the lack of social mobility and quality middle-class jobs and a concentration of power in the wealthy. By hinting at the future downfall of America, the film opens with a flourish.
After setting the political scene, the film then moves into the economic consequences, particularly on those at the bottom. The film starts with the policies of Ronald Reagan who challenged the unions, cut tax rates for the highest earners and brought in an era of neoliberalism. Michael Moore says this has failed; massive job cuts ensued as factories closed and moved abroad, wages stagnated, and household debt and bankruptcies increased all as CEO pay skyrocketed. This scene effectively declares Michael Moore’s view of modern capitalist and aims to show the negative effects of an ever-increasing wealth divide between rich and poor and the effects of deregulation and the erosion of worker’s rights. The move to neoliberalism is shown as a costly one, with hints that a system which seeks to make capitalism more humane should be sought. Although this more socialist system has been shown to work in parts of the world, such as Scandinavia, it has not been proven that the American psyche – the American dream, individual liberty and ‘small’ government – is inherently compatible with this system.Michael Moore then shows us a specific example of capitalism taken to the extreme; incentivised incarceration of children who committed low-level crime by a system that encourages such negative outcomes. A judge received kickbacks from the owner of a private juvenile prison if he handed down custodial sentences. Michael Moore suggests that the government should be responsible for certain services such as prisons and that the attitudes of certain Americans that see private corporations as bastions of efficiency and good service are being naïve. Corporate greed infiltrates every part of society, not just workers and jobs directly, and that by curbing it not only will the future of work look better, other unexpected consequences such as this can also be avoided.