Went reluctantly to see Michael Moore's latest populist film, Capitalism: A Love Story . It actually proved to be pretty provocative.
Among Moore's usual confused segments and cheap shots were disturbing glimpses of a United States that is not in much danger of becoming socialist or fascist, as the Right and the Left respectively fear, but plutocratic--a country governed not by democratic voting processes, but by the undue influence of the extremely wealthy. Moore's statistics and narratives on shifts in tax policies of the last 25-30 years show a clear trend that has led to the decline of the buffering zone of a strong middle-class, the increase of the poor or working poor, and astounding concentrations of wealth among a very few persons. Moore appeals for a return to a fairer, more just land. He says, hauntingly, at the end of the film, "I will not live in a country like this, and I am not leaving."
Coincidentally, the three-year lectionary focuses this week on the texts in 1 Samuel 8-10 where the Prophet warns Israel not to take a king because a king will use up their sons, their daughters, and their fields and vineyards, "but the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, 'No! but we are determined to have a king over us..." (1 Samuel 8:19). Samuel was trying to say, "You won't really want to live in a country like that... " On behalf of God, the prophet gave fair warning about kings and plutocrats. They bear watching. Moore seems to think that, all too often, if you follow the trail backwards from uninsured families, foreclosures, and down-sizings, you will find unfair tax laws, deceptively complex investment instruments and dishonest balance sheets among the planet's largest corporations.