Friday, October 9, 2009

Moore's Capitalism

We went and saw Michael Moore's new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, over the weekend. His website is here and gives quite a bit of news about the movie. The main premise is that most of Americans (99%) have been robbed by the richest Americans (1%). This, he portrays, has been mostly by corporate greed and not only evasion of taxes by the wealthy but by theft of taxpayer money through last year's government bailout.

Moore is probably right about many things, but as an AP article relates, he could have improved his movie by giving a wider, more nuanced picture. For one thing, he wants Americans to protest and even rebel against financial institutions, but a great many Americans are tied to these, not only through corporate America in employment but in their retirement funds. An estimated 50 million have 401(k)'s. In some ways, they want these companies to gain, gain, gain. How can they rebel?

Another example of a simplified idea is that of people being "hypnotized" into believing that Capitalism is good. The hypnotizers are the rich who have made it, making the others think it is OK because they themselves may someday be rich. But Moore claims the rich never intended to share. This strikes one as a conspiracy theory, and Capitalism in actuality seems much more individualistic. Moore is correct in pointing unashamedly to the sin of greed (he even interviews priests). But anyone who lusts for money and the power it gives them has the same problem. The rich are only the ones who actually made it (although perhaps have unique skills which should be used for the greater good).

At least Moore is willing to bring these problems into the open. Americans have been victimized, there is no doubt. The pictures of blighted neighborhoods are very sad, and one wonders how we could have sunk so low. And yet, laborers have struggled throughout history, being slaves, serfs, peasants, and eventually workers at the whims of industrialists known as robber barons, such as John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. Greed seems to be a sad part of human nature.

Moore does make a point about our attitudes concerning Capitalism. Too many people, and as far as I can tell this includes many Christians, hold this economic system so important that they put it before God's ways, or at least appear that way. Certain TV money talk-show hosts come to mind as an example. Christ has said we can't serve both God and money (see Matthew 6 at USCCB). Thus, I think, we get to the deeper nature of what is wrong. The bigger priority is not in rebelling to get a bigger piece of the pie, but in making God's way first in our lives.

I won't be posting next week because I have to prepare for a speaking engagement concerning Intelligent Design Theory. I've also just started volunteering again for English as a Second Language, and that will involve preparation and meeting time. That's the beauty of a blog--we can make our own rules. Hope to meet you here again in a few weeks!

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