I saw Michael Moore’s new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story recently and left the theater heated at our financial establishment. How could so many American corporations get away with creating parasitic relationships with their customers? Why were our tax dollars allowed to keep banks afloat without penalty for refusing to pass down that money to the consumer to stoke our economy?I know these feelings. I have felt them before. It is the feeling I have every time I leave a Michael Moore film, consumed with frustration. Being aware of Moore’s sensational approach, I thought it was best to let the message sit for a couple of days to see just how those emotions evolve into lasting messages of inspiration.
The time is now. If Americans wish to have a voice in how we rebuild our economy as a more sustainable and responsible entity, then there is no better time than the present. As awareness on this subject grows, now is the time to strike while the iron is hot. The media barrage of coverage has left most people are aware of the state of our economy. For those who haven’t heard from a media outlet, they have probably noticed in the changing work landscape at their own jobs – if they still have them. This administration’s focus on transparency will prove useful when investigating our economic predicament. Sifting through all the partisan nonsense will become less of an issue as the Obama administration reveals essential truths to the American people. The best approach is a passionately informed one, or else you end up sounding like one of those town hall screamers.
You have options. One of my favorite parts of Capitalism: A Love Story was how alternative business models were showcased. Not all capitalistic enterprises create hierarchical patterns of inequality. With a strong mission focused on quality products for the target consumers, organizations keep the right focus. Value centered organizations will survive any investigation into their business practices. In these groups responsibility remains paramount and the consumer greatly benefits. Revolutionary business models exist, such as co-ops shown in the movie, and should be supported for them to thrive. There are a number of social enterprises that utilize their profit margins to cultivate business, and to broaden the size of the target community they serve. The stagnant model of capitalism is not inescapable.
Democracy’s strength is in numbers. Another part of the movie that stood out to me was Moore’s focus on the activist community. The segment on the workers from Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors not only provided a candid face to workers and American capitalism, but also provides the audience with a tangible example of by any means necessary democracy. Left out of the equation, Moore shows how the activist community liberates people from their conventional understanding of capitalism and brings a democratic influence to our economy. Our financial institutions are run by a small group of people. The American model of capitalism acts without regard for the public interest because it lacks the number of voices required to act democratically. The greater number of contributing voices, the more democratic our financial system can be.
This will be a fight. At no point does Moore allow the audience to think changing the American economy will be as easy as 1-2-3. No single answer will solve the problem. There is no single way to define the problem. Our vales must change so business better reflect American ideals. Though there is a lack of a clear formula for our economy he does stress one approach – action. These actions will not be easy, and in some cases unlawful (for instance asking homeowners that have been foreclosed on to not leave their homes). Existing irresponsible financial institutions can’t just be frowned upon, but passionately fought. They are not just a group with mixed up values; these businesses have money, resources, and power on their side. A collective informed effort is the only way to generate a fair fight over the future direction of our economy.