Moore exposes wealth of financial secrecy

by Beacon Staff • September 30, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story, which might be his best. If you expect to survive in the current economy, you may want to follow him on his journey.,The economy is a mess. We are all screwed. What can be done? Michael Moore did something. He set out to find how things have gotten this far. He has taken huge strides with his newest documentary,

Capitalism: A Love Story, which might be his best. If you expect to survive in the current economy, you may want to follow him on his journey.

The documentary is being promoted

as a theatrical record of the recent $700 billion dollar bailout the government gave to Wall Street, but it is more than that: Capitalism is a record of the economic environment of the United States over the last seven decades. It is a description of how the mighty have fallen.

Moore doesn't make his documentary

about any one specific event, but about a war that exists in our country: capitalism versus democracy. They are not the same thing. Moore goes on to wonder if they can even coexist when he explores the corruption of the current

state of affairs, uncovering many dirty secrets-like company policies of death profiteering, known as dead peasant insurance.

Corporate-owned life insurance is the official name for the practice.

These are life insurance policies

taken out by companies on their employees, so that when the employees die, the companies can recoup. These policies are bought by all kinds of companies like Bank of America and Wal-Mart, for example.

One story in the documentary is about a woman with severe asthma that worked at a Walmart deli. The company made tens of thousands of dollars from her death.

Dead peasant insurance is just one of the many shocking pieces of information found in this film. Banks using the police to evict people, thousands of workers being fired from companies with less than a week's notice, and finding out that many pilots in the country make less than a manager at Taco Bell are a few examples, and that list barely scratches the surface.

Capitalism balances this darkness

with a bit of humor. Moore brings levity through absurdity.

He places what appear to be government-issue educational films from the 1950s next to the reality of the present. The definition

of capitalism from that period seems so na've and wrong in comparison

to the present day that one can't help but laugh at it, like we laugh at thinking that ducking and covering could protect from a nuclear holocaust.

"If you just pound people with all this depressing stuff, it paralyzes them," Moore said in a roundtable interview with The Beacon and other local publications. "I don't want people to leave the theater with a sense of 'What's the use, it's all fucked, why bother, let's just go have a drink.'"

And, as usual, Moore pulls one of his brazen demonstrations of protest.

Actually, he pulls several-all of which are a great joy to watch because he takes them to ridiculous

lengths. When he wraps the Wall Street banks that benefited from the bailout in yellow crime scene tape, he doesn't just close off the doors, he literally wraps the entire building in tape.

Moore's detractors will tell you that he cherry-picks facts and, at times, flat out lies. But a list of facts and statistics-shocking as they may be-have never been the true strength of Moore's films-that distraction belongs to the people. Whenever he explores an issue, he puts a human face on it. He travels around the world and finds people who have been beaten down and feel defeated, and he gives them a voice. Hearing those stories makes it real, tearing apart the audience. Capitalism is no different.

In his latest attempt, Moore continues trends that began in his film Sicko. Rather than step on-screen and make direct statements,

Moore juxtaposes images and viewpoints-the contrast of which brings his opinion to light.

He has become a master editor and begun to present his views through his craft. If before he used a chainsaw, now he uses a chisel. The subtlety can be noted in the pacing of Capitalism.

Normally, Moore's films are almost instantly incendiary, jumping

right into the heart of the controversy,

but this one moves more slowly, building the intensity, like watching the fuse burn on a stick of dynamite. By the end of the film, viewers are angry and ready to change things. Most importantly,

they feel like they can.

Don't dismiss this film. Don't write it off as propaganda. It's more than that. It's a glimpse into a world where businesses can run a country into a near economic collapse and the public knows nothing of this danger until it is almost too late. A world where the rich are the powerful and live without fear. A world where people are treated like commodities

because they don't know how to fight back. It's a glimpse into a world you live in. You should take a long hard look.,Pierce O'Toole