Michael Moore’s documentary gives us invaluable insight into the current economic set up. He defines capitalism as "a system of giving and taking — mostly taking." He attempts to explain capitalism in layman’s terms and to criticize the assumptions that capitalism is good (Corkburn, 2004). He criticizes capitalism as a system that benefits a few rich and powerful to keep things their ways, while others feel the pains of those motivated by profit. In the 1950s, the rich paid 90% of the tax, however, during the Reagan administration there was tax cuts among the rich (Corkburn, 2004). Many corporations had to lay off their workers in order to make a profit. The movie is a critique of capitalism and notes out the various evils it has brought. It shows families being evicted by the police simply because they could not pay their mortgages. In fact, there is a disabled railway worker in Illinois, who lost his home because he could not settle $1000 with the bank, and airline pilots have not been spared that some of them have to apply for food stamps.
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The documentary touches on concepts such as banks and the country’s economic system. For instance, the FBI warned about the mortgage fraud, which was instigated by the banks in 2004. Banks offered discounted loans to the rich, while the poor were given loans with higher interests. Corporate bodies purchased insurance policies of employees, which are not essential to them; this insurance policy is called “death peasant” insurance and it allows companies to benefit from them (Corkburn, 2004). The documentary talks about the minors who have been convicted unfairly in the profit juvenile centers so that the judges would benefit. It talks about Goldman and Sachs efforts to regulate the banking industry.
The documentary is based on various economic philosophies. Keynesianism is a theory developed by British economist John Maynard Keynes. He asserts that government spending should be designed to increase employment and business activities. He says that, in time of economic crisis, the government should take an active role in economy recovery and avoid freeing the market to self-regulate. Keynesianism spells out economic principles, which should be used in an ailing economy. In the documentary, Michael Moore praises Franklin Roosevelt for saving the U.S. capitalism (Corkburn, 2004). Roosevelt applied the Keynesianism policies that helped in reducing the massive unemployment, which had been caused by the previous administration. The huge spending during his administration particularly targeted at countries, which had been destroyed by the world war, was a period of boom for capitalism. In the current government, a lot of money has been pumped into the economy in order to bail the ailing economy from the second recession (Moore and Moore, 2009).
Laissez Faire capitalism is a philosophy whereby individuals use the properties they own to make an income. “Laissez Faire” is a French word, which means to let people to do as they wish. This economy promotes cutthroat competition between companies as they try to make as much profit as possible. In Laissez Faire capitalism, the government involvement is minimal. The U.S. economy is highly capitalistic, which has led to the rise of capitalism related evils, which are criticized in the documentary. In the highly capitalistic American society, the workers are losing jobs, income and even their homes to offset their debts. Multinationals such as Wall-Mart are taking out “death insurance” in order to make profits. Big airlines are under paying their pilots that they have to rely on food stamps. Personal stories told in the documentary make us conclude that capitalism is pure evil (Moore and Moore, 2009).
Reaganomics is criticized in the documentary as well. These are economic policies adopted when Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States. These policies attempted to change the economic system by reducing government spending, lowering marginal taxes, decreasing government regulation and lastly reducing inflation. These policies resulted in a large number of people being thrown out of their jobs, while corporations made hefty profits. Reagan was opposed to workers’ rights and feminist movements, who were against some of his policies (Corkburn, 2004). This formed the basis of the greedy companies that would do anything to make a profit, which is the reality of the current economy.