Barack Obama Must See Michael Moore's New Movie (and So Must You)!
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In capitalism as envisioned by its leading lights, including Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall, you need a moral foundation in order for free markets to work. And when a company fails, it fails. It doesn't get bailed out using trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. What we have right now is Corporatism. It's welfare for the rich. It's the government picking winners and losers. It's Wall Street having their taxpayer-funded cake and eating it too. It's socialized gains and privatized losses.
Which is why -- although you can bet many will try -- Capitalism: A Love Story can't be dismissed as a left-wing tirade. Its condemnation of the status quo is too grounded in real stories and real suffering, its targets too evenly spread across the political spectrum. Indeed, Jay Leno, America's designated Everyman, was so moved by the film he insisted that Moore appear on the second night of his new show, and told his audience that the film was "completely nonpartisan... I was stunned by it, and I think it is the most fair film" Moore has done.
After a preview screening last week (at which I did a Q&A session with Michael), he came over to my home for a late night bite. Over lasagna, he told me about an incident that occurred while he was filming that exemplifies how the economic crisis cannot be looked at through a left vs right prism.
It happened while he and his crew were shooting the climax of the movie, where Michael decides to mark Wall Street as a crime scene, putting up yellow police tape around some of the financial district's towers of power.
While unfurling the tape in front of a "too big to fail" bank, he became aware of a group of New York's finest approaching him. Moore has a long history of dealing with policemen and security guards trying to shut him down, but in this case he knew he was, however temporarily, defacing private property. And his shooting schedule didn't leave room for a detour to the local jail. So, as the lead officer came closer, Moore tried to deflect him, saying: "Just doing a little comedy here, officer. I'll be gone in a minute, and will clean up before I go."
The officer looked at him for a moment, then leaned in: "Take all the time you need." He nodded to the bank and said, "These guys wiped out a lot of our Police Pension Funds." The officer turned and slowly headed back to his squad car. Moore wanted to put the moment in his film, but realized it could cost the cop his job, and decided to leave it out. "When they've lost the police," he told me, "you know they're in trouble."
There is a real sense of urgency to Capitalism: A Love Story. I asked Michael what impact he hoped the film would have. He chuckled and said that, in some way, he had made the movie for "an audience of one. President Obama. I hope he sees it and remembers who put him in the White House... and it wasn't Goldman Sachs."
At the Q&A I did with Michael -- and, indeed, wherever he goes -- people who see the film are asking: What should I do to make a difference?
There are obviously many things people can do. At HuffPost, we are asking everyone to bear witness by putting flesh and blood on the tragic human cost of the greed and corruption that have brought us to where we are.