Michael Moore - "Capitalism : a love story"

So, Michael Moore’s new movie is out (“Capitalism - a love story”). I went to see it last thursday and really much enjoyed it in spite of the obvious “Moore reality transformation” at some scenes (to speak of just one, the stimulus package is presented as Bush’s child although it was voted under Obama). But apart from various shortcomings I still think it is a must see.

What to you think?


What do I think? I think it’s hilarious that almost everyone who’s not a right-winger seems to like Michael Moore movies despite the fact that they know he’s full of crap. They say they hate Michael Moore himself and then like movies that are essentially Michael Moore being Michael Moore.

That’s not fair. I’ve never watched a Michael Moore movie. But I feel pretty confident that everything I haven’t seen is awful.

He’s donating his share of the proceeds for this movie to charity, right?

I believe Moore does far more harm than good, even when I agree with him. With most movies we have to suspend disbelief; with his movies we have to suspend belief.

I don’t. I don’t think he is full of crap.

Did you see the movie?
I’d like to keep this thread focused on this movie, not all his movies.

I don’t think he’s full of crap either. The conservatives trying to warp reality is much more egregious than anything Moore has ever done. Everything in his movies has cites behind it. If he got a couplethree things wrong here and there, the idiots use that to tar and feather his entire catalog. Moore takes the time to explain where he came up with everything in his films, and gives credible cites so people can check for themselves and make up their own minds. Unlike some conservative pundits, who throw out accusations and speculation with nothing behind them.

Facts and cites for Capitalism: A Love Story.
Facts and cites for Sicko.

Facts and cites for Fahrenheit 911.

Facts and cites for Bowling For Columbine.

OK. I was disappointed. After the brilliance that was Sicko (which should be the one playing in theaters now), this one wasn’t anywhere near as good. He brought up a lot of great points and interesting facts (see list above) but it wasn’t a fraction as hard-hitting as it should have been, and I don’t think he explained some of the situations clearly enough. For instance, he and an “expert” couldn’t explain something (it’s been several weeks since I saw it so I can’t remember what, like Credit Default Swaps or whatever) and he left us as much in the dark as we were before. Well, not me, because I understand Credit Default Swaps (and other aspects of the financial crisis), and that’s because I had spent a lot of time at the The Khan Academy YouTube channel. He explains everything from Algebra to the Banking Industry. Moore should have hired that guy. His videos look simplistic, but they’re brilliant in explaining complex concepts in a very simple way. He’s entertaining while doing it too.

Learn what Credit Default Swaps are (and what AIG does). Here’s part 2.

Now I know that Moore couldn’t have spent 20 minutes explaining what Credit Default Swaps (or whatever) were like Khan, but he could have done a better job. Except for the Crime Scene Tape scene, which was funny, his stunts (like trying to make a Citizen’s Arrest or taking money bags to these places to get the money back) took time away from actually explaining concepts so viewers could understand the situation.

Also, I don’t think he was hard-hitting enough. He was way too softball on Geithner, for instance.

It was a good movie, and timely, but it wasn’t the great movie I was hoping for.

My favorite parts though, were the personal parts dealing with his father. It’s amazing to think that there actually used to be a blue-collar middle class, who could buy houses and cars, and take vacations, on one fairly modest salary.

It has been weeks since I’ve seen it, but I think you’re mistaken. I believe that Moore was talking about the bailout, not the stimulus package, and the bailout was Bush’s child.

I hated it, and I’m not a right-winger by any means. My biggest problem with the movie was that Moore failed to propose a meaningful alternative to capitalism. He ends the movie by saying that he wants capitalism to be replaced by democracy. In other words, he doesn’t propose a different economic system - he doesn’t recognize that capitalism and democracy aren’t in the same category. He does make a case that capitalism interferes with democracy, but that doesn’t mean that one is a replacement for the other. What economic system does Moore prefer? Some sort of socialism? Highly regulated capitalism? A mixed economy? He doesn’t say.

Moore also resorts to his usual emotional manipulation. Take for example, the part where he focuses on corporations taking out life insurance policies on their employees. He makes a big deal about how unfair it is that an employer makes money on the death of an employee - that the employee’s family should be entitled to a cut somehow. He shows angry, grieving families, but he never says what’s actually unfair about it. I don’t see how the employee’s family is hurt by this practice - are they any worse off than they would have been had there been no insurance policy? Why should someone other than the one paying the premiums benefit from the payoff?

This doesn’t mean I don’t have problems with the practice. My first thought when I heard about it was that it seemed like a bad investment on the part of a corporation to insure the lives of non-essential employees. Insurance companies are run by smart people - they adjust their premiums to maximize their profits, which should make it impossible for a company like Wal-Mart to gain by insuring most of its employees. It’s only when I realized the premiums are a deductible business expense that I understood why corporations do it - the government subsidizes the insurance, which probably changes the balance so that both the insurer and the insured can make money on it. As such, the practice may be unfair to other taxpayers who have to pick up the slack.

It’s also possible that these insurance policies could encourage employers to skimp on safety standards. It’s probably a bad idea to allow such policies to pay out in cases of work-related death.

But does Moore talk about any of this? No - he goes for pure emotion. We can see how angry the grieving families are, so the practice must be wrong.

My fault, thanks for pointing this out.

I personally like best the parts where privately owned prisons may decide when to release inmates (teenagers, that is!) when they effectively earn money on every day the inmates stay in prison, and this leading to teenagers spending 11 months in a cell for smoking pot or insulting their teacher on a myspace page.

A second highlight was companies cashing in on employees’ deaths from insurance policies they had paid for w/o the employees’ knowledge, which gives the company incentives to … well … not be so protective of an employees health - to phrase it carefully.

I don’t think it’s necessarily Moore’s job to provide solutions. He doesn’t claim to be an economist. He’s (usually) best at just bringing situations to people’s attention* and letting them decide and look for solutions, or look for leaders who will help provide solutions.

  • which is why I was disappointed that his explanations of the various situations weren’t clear.

That’s just it. “Emotional manipulation” was called for because it is an emotional issue for the families. To corporations it’s just dollars and cents.

He did propose a solution. His proposal was nonsense. Democracy is not a replacement for capitalism, because democracy is a political system, not an economic one. This isn’t complicated at all - one doesn’t have to be an economist to understand it.

Jeff Lichtman, I haven’t seen the movie, but that was an excellent post.

He actually said this? If that isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard, it’s definitely in the running. So, instead of letting the engineers at Ford design their next car, it’s going to be put up for a public vote? The vast majoirty who couldn’t design a working automobile if there was a gun to their head? The majority of whom don’t even understand basic mathematics and physics? The mind boggles.

With the movie not in theaters at the moment, and not on DVD yet, I can’t accurately say what Moore did or didn’t say. The gist of it seemed to be that unrestrained capitalism is harmful to democracy. Moore pointed out that the Constitution doesn’t say anything about capitalism one way or the other, and that we should use our democratic system to make life better for our fellow Americans instead of the system being gamed to make a small number of American vastly wealthy.

:confused: I’ve never known anyone to say they hate Moore but like his movies. Nor that they “know he’s full of crap” but like his movies anyway. Where are you getting this?

While I have never mentioned it before, I fully enjoyed the 3 Michael Moore movies I have seen (Bowling For Columbine, Farenheit 911, Sicko) and tend to agree with him politically, as he is seemingly well spoken and well informed on most of the issues I have heard him talk on.

That said, I have heard (both here on SDMB and elsewhere) that in person, Michael Moore is the exact opposite of the “aww shucks” everyman persona he portrays in his films and on his talk show appearances, and is actually a rude, demanding, egotistitical asshole who treats his assistants like slaves and who is basically a fat assed prick.

That dosent mean that I dont think he makes important points in his movies (particularly in Farenheit 911 and Sicko) but I certainly no longer respect him as a person if only a fraction of the things I have heard about his behavior are true…

PS----For any Dopers who posted stories about Moore’s dickish antics when you had dealings with him, I would love to read them again if you want to take the time to link them.

I don’t think that’s what Moore meant. He devotes time in the movie to show that big moneyed interests interfere with democracy, and he believes capitalism and democracy are incompatible. I think he has a point here, but his conclusion that we need to replace capitalism with democracy is nonsense. If we’re going to have democracy without capitalism, there will have to be some other economic system. I don’t think Moore is proposing putting all economic decisions (even private ones) up to a vote. I believe he’s just failing to think the problem through.

As for capitalism and democracy being incompatible - there is a tendency under many economic systems for power to become concentrated in the hands of a few people who use that power to subvert the political system. It certainly happened in Marxist states. I don’t believe the problem is strictly one of capitalism. This is one reason I think it’s important to consider alternatives - all economic and political systems have problems, and to discuss them intelligently one should understand the trade-offs.

I’m sure he didn’t think it through. But, to abuse definitions a bit, an economic system is a system for making economic decisions, and democracy is a system for making decisions. So if “replacing capitalism with democracy” means anything, it must mean “making economic decisions by vote.”

Huh? A politically divisive person with an affable public persona is reputed to be the exact opposite by random people on the Internet? I can’t see how any could doubt solid evidence like that!

I came to conclusion that he had a wonderful sense of humor when I saw him in a box at the Republican National Convention, and he became their Emmanuel Goldstein, laughing his head off. It takes balls and a great sense of humor to laugh in an arena packed full of people who hate you.

You know who else does that? Trolls.

I does take a great sense of humor to call Michael Moore a troll.