Capitalism: A Love Story


Directed by: Michael Moore
Written by:Michael Moore
Released: November 5, 2009
Grade: B+

Last week, I saw a documentary about people trafficking (called Call + Response).  It was an interesting film that opened my eyes to the blatant sale and abuse of people that goes on around the world.  It left me rather disgusted but the problem is – what am I going to do about it?

There is a lot of other nasty stuff going on in the world.  There are many causes which need people to “carry the flame”.  When I walk through the city during the week, heaps of people walk the streets trying to raise funds for a specific charity.  There’s only so much time and so much money that I can give.  How do you choose?

At the very end of his new film, you can sense the frustration in the voice of Michael Moore.  He’s made some fantastic documentaries over the past decade included Bowling For Columbine (which looks at gun control) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (which looks at the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks in 2001).  He’s trying to make a difference, trying to expose the flaws and double standards that exist within our society.  Is anyone listening though? 

Capitalism: A Love Story has struggled at the box office in comparison in Moore’s previous works.  We’re experiencing an extreme economic downturn where people are losing their jobs, their homes and their lives.  Do these same people want to go to a movie theatre and relive their own depression on the big screen?  Or would they rather see a Will Ferrell comedy or a Jerry Bruckheimer action blockbuster?  The answer appears to be the later.

It’s a shame but that’s reality.  And it’s a reality that allows people to be taken advantage of.  If you do take the time to see this film (and you should), you’ll see just how greedy the human race has become.  We’re obsessed with profit and making money.  I admit, that’s putting it a little too simply but you should see some of the examples which illustrate this message throughout the film.

There are major companies in the United States who take out life insurance policies on their employees.  If an employee should die, the company gets a payout.  Let me point out that this money does not go to the family of the deceased – it goes to the company.  We’re not talking about big executives here either – we’re talking about the lowly paid at the bottom of the corporate ladder.  In effect, these companies make a profit if employees die.  There are reports which analyse the money made from these business “activities”.  Is such behaviour ethically acceptable?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Moore’s film closes with his take on the $700 billion dollar bail-out package which was approved by Washington in late 2008.  The banks are getting all this money but how is it being used?  How are they made accountable?  His revelations are shocking.

This isn’t Michael Moore’s best documentary and I thought the first half-hour was a little slow with its focus on struggling American families.  I always knew these people were being taken advantage of – I wanted the film to skip ahead so I could find out why… and who was doing it.  Moore mixes it up too with a few light-hearted moments.  There’s a funny tourism video about the city of Cleveland which you can watch by clicking here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysmLA5TqbIY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZzgAjjuqZM.

As an accountant who has worked in the financial sector for over ten years, I do believe in Moore’s message.  If you want more ammo, check out a great 2003 documentary called The Corporation.  You could also read an incredible investigative article written by Matt Taibbi called “The Great American Bubble Machine” (look it up on the web).  Ah, but how many of us are prepared to change our capitalistic ways?  Are we all talk and no action?  Ask me in 20 years and I’ll tell you.