21 March 2010

A Movie to Depress You on a Saturday Night — So Do Something

We watched Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story at the community hall last night. I don't have to tell you what the movie's about, except to say that the subtitle is a tongue-in-cheek play on words.

Moore explains (and I'm never really sure if he knows how astute he is!) why Obama had to get elected in the USA — if he hadn't, there would have been a revolt against the nightmare of capitalism and a revolution in favour of a new economic system.

One of the film's finest moments came at the beginning of the credits when DO SOMETHING was flashed across the screen. I just visited the film's website (Capitalism: A Love Story) and discovered a list of five "somethings" that can be done. Note that the last one deals with the Earth.


1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.

2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery. You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand nothing less, no compromises allowed. Click here to join the fight!

3. Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Yes, those very members of Congress who solicit and receive millions of dollars from wealthy interests must vote to remove ALL money from our electoral and legislative process. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.

4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?" (Click here for a preview of the ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ DVD extra, ‘The Socialist Bank of — North Dakota?’)

5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!! [Visit Moore's Do Something webpage to see his links.]

Now let's imagine a list like this for getting people to help mitigate the global climate change emergency! What five "somethings" would we ask everyone (or even just our elected officials) to do?


  1. The US would have had a revolution without Obama? What a load of bull. Americans are the most apathetic people in the world. Even with all the problems in the US, they still have one of the highest living standards in the world, and they won't risk that for anything.

    Moore has made some good films in the past, but I think I'll skip this one.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for reading! You missed my point, I think. First, I'm not even sure that Moore intended to imply this with his movie. Second, it's not that the US would have had a revolution, but that American working and middle class people (= 95% of Americans, so yeah, I guess we could call that "the US") would have said "Enough!" to the corporate class. Obama's campaign and consequent win effectively steered all the "AIG anger" in another direction. Great relief amongst Wall Street CEOs. (They wouldn't have let him win if they hadn't wanted him in.)

    This isn't one of Moore's best (IMHO), but after a slow start, it sure uncovered some surprising tidbits about how the American people (and increasingly, the rest of us, I'm sure) are being used and manipulated by the monied class. Check out, for example, "Dead Peasant" insurance (http://deadpeasantinsurance.com/). The sheer evil of this strategy sure knocked my socks off!

  3. Hi Greenhearted. I'm not sureabout any revolt, or even saying "enough". What did people actually do, maybe have a few small protests?

    It is true that a large number of people were opposed to the bank bailouts, both on the left and the right. Yet both Bush and Obama gave massive bailouts with no strings. The only presidential candidate that would have stopped the bailouts, ironically, was Ron Paul, a Republican candidate.

    I'm also a bit sick of hearing about how the "poor" Americans are exploited by the rich. Yes, the income gap is growing, but Americans are still the biggest consumers in the world, by far. I still don't see per capita carbon emissions falling in the US. They obviously still have enough money to continue their massive overconsumption and wastefulness.

  4. Alas, we (in Canada) are right behind them. Well, actually, out in front in some sectors. Glass houses and all. At least we didn't deregulate our banks. That has led to no end of problems in the US. Do see the movie!
    p.s. I like to blame everything on Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays. It's hard to castigate a whole population or culture (although I do, at times) when you know how deeply and obscenely they've been manipulated.


I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?