Capitalism: A Mistitled Movie

Capitalism is an evil, and you can’t regulate evil. – Michael Moore

Under a capitalist system, financial institutions would not have been intimidated or encouraged into making risky loans and neither would they have been bailed out if they did so… it is capitalism, not socialism, that made us a great country, and it’s socialism that will be our undoing. – Investors Business Daily

Through the throngs of socialist ideology and Obama mania a few agents of liberty infiltrated the recent D.C. premiere of Micheal Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. In typical Michael Moore fashion, the film covers many topics without tapping into the root problems and instead pulls on your heart strings.  Firstly, his use of the word capitalism is misguided. Capitalism is free markets without government intervention. Yet in his mind the corportist system that has plagued our country is the definition of capitalism.What he blames on the free-market economy, is not a free-market economy. Our current economy is comprised of a revolving door between politicians and lobbyists who have manipulated the system through government regulations for the benefit of  a select few.

Among the issues completely ignored by Moore, the Federal Reserve tops them all. While he adequately covers the bailouts and the inappropriate relationship between Goldman Sachs and the U.S. Treasury, he fails to recognize who supplies Goldman Sachs with credit. When asked directly about why he failed to mention the Federal Reserve in the film, he quickly changed topic by saying “that deserves its own movie.”

Moore fails to criticize the Obama Administration for carrying out the same policies as former President Bush. While condemning the Bush Administration and especially Hank Paulson, he conveniently disregards Obama’s promotion of and vote for TARP legislation. When he is discussing the revolving door, he talks of Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner yet does not connect them with Obama. Not only that, but he claims all monies “donated” to the Obama campaign by the banking industry (the most of any candidate) were only attempts at bribery. Yet according to him Obama stood strong against these bankers, and his glorious plans have been derailed by some mythical conspiracy.  At one point it even feels as if he is creating a cinematic alter to which others can lay offerings to the Obamessaiah.

One surprising aspect coming from Moore’s leftism is how much he involved his personal religious beliefs into the film. He shows a few select interviews with Catholic priests, being a Catholic himself, to get what he feels is God’s perspective on capitalism. Not surprisingly all of them condemn what they feel is a system of greed and exploitation. During the Q&A he even suggests that the new system, one he can’t explain nor has any idea of where to start, should have at its core a moral and ethics system based on our “judeo-christian foundation.” For someone who has criticized conservatives as exploiting their faith for political ends, it is sickening to see him use the same tactics.

Moore does however expose few good points in the movie. For one he gives publicity to the Wilkes-Barre case, in which a private juvenile detention center was bribing two local judges to increase conviction rates. One child was sent there for fighting with his parents, another for creating a fake myspace page to criticize her schools vice principal. He also talks about the modern day Shay’s Rebellion that is taking place across the country. He discusses the case in Wayne County, Michigan where local sheriff Warren Evans has taken it upon himself to create a moratorium on foreclosures.

Yet even in these examples, he fails to see the larger picture. Somehow, in the case of the two judges it is capitalism, not corruption that is at fault. In the case of the foreclosures, he manipulates facts to present it as big business’s fault and gives no blame to poor decisions made by individuals. To make clear what capitalism is Murray Rothbard defines it in his book Capitalism vs. Statism…

Free market capitalism is a network of free voluntary exchanges in which producers work, produce, and exchange their products for the products of others through prices voluntarily arrived at.

Moore attempts to blame coerced actions on the free-market and ignores that people voluntarily enter into these contracts. Moore’s elitist ideals are best summed up in Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s How Capitalism Saved America, when he states the

…reason why the intellectual class is predominately socialistic: under a regime of economic freedom and laissez-faire capitalism there is no role for intellectuals to advise the state on how to best plan everyone else’s affairs.

Moore ends his film by exposing his Utopian ideals summed up in a never before viewed video of President Roosevelt’s final State of the Union address. In it FDR proposes a new “bill of rights” which could easily be mistaken for a final chapter in an Upton Sinclair novel. Yet of course Moore/FDR does not give any inclination as to how these “rights” would be defined, achieved, nor payed for. All in all there are no real solutions offered in this film. If you feel like spending two hours in the theater holding hands and singing koom-bi-ya, wishing your problems away then by all means go ahead. If your time is more valuable and you want to see people actually attempting to affect real change might I suggest you see For Liberty.

Contributing writers: Shaun Bowen and Nick Leavens

* Audio of Q&A will be up on the YAL Youtube page soon.


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