By John Poole at Constructonomics
“Capitalism: A Love Story”, is the tongue-in-cheek title of Michael Moore’s latest film that trashes the people who run our country. But honestly, he’s tough to argue with – very tough.
Larry King tried hard Wednesday night to catch Mr. Moore off his guard and paint him into a corner, but the goofy kid from Michigan was having nothing of it.
Larry took a shot with, “Are you saying the investor is more important than the employee?”
Moore, like a prime of his career, Mike Tyson, fired back with,
“Yes. The investor –and the investor, these days, they want the short-term, quick profit and they want it now. But in the long-term, here’s what happened. When I was on this show 20 years ago, 20 years ago this week, I was here with “Roger and Me”.
And General Motors, that year, made a profit of $4 billion. And yet they had just laid off another 30,000 people. Now, why would you lay people off when you’re making a record profit of $4 billion?
I mean that was totally insane. But they thought, well, you know, we can make a bigger profit. Maybe we can make $4.2 billion if we move those jobs to Mexico. And so they’re always, you know, we can make a little bit more money if we do this. By firing those workers, Larry, they got rid of the very people who buy their cars.”
Moore’s words sting harder than seeing a pink paper on your keyboard when you come back from lunch. They sting, because he’s so damn right. Nobody can really argue with him, and the only reason he has the guts to say it is because he’s already a millionaire from making documentary movies. It’s not like some unemployed nobody is going to start ranting about how much our economic system sucks on a blog or something…ahem.
From what I gather about Moore’s overall theme is that our economic system of capitalism has gotten very far away from democracy. He’s saying that the majority, while under the illusion of having some control over what goes on, actually has none.
Now, I’m not sure if this is true in a political sense, because we still elect officials and that system seems to be relatively fair. However, I do know that the majority of organizations in which we work are so far from a democracy that we might as well have red flags flying high outside every office building. For profit organization are straight up dictatorships where a small group of elite officials run the whole thing while the rest fight like hell to break through the ceiling and rub elbows with the CEO and his son-in-law on the corporate jet. If you speak up about how the little guy is getting the shaft in an organization, just wait and see how long it takes to be shown the door. You have two options, you can stay and put up with the way things are run, or quit.
“It’s set up like a pyramid, so that the richest 1% at the top have more financial wealth than the 95% beneath them. But the trick here is to get the 95% believing that if they work hard and slave away, they would get to the top of the pyramid. Of course, as we know, only a few people can stand on top of a pyramid.”
I guess the rebuttal to Moore’s little rant is while there is clearly BS going on in large corporations nobody is forcing you to work for them. He grew up in Flint, Michigan where GM was only show in town. Factory workers in Flint had little choice about who was going to sign their paycheck. But in the rest of the country, darn near the majority of people work for small companies, and while smaller organizations can certainly show signs of beating up the little guy, the hierarchy can be much less brutal to navigate.
The construction industry can be looked at as a rather accurate cross section of the overall organizational picture in this country, however, the major difference being that the overwhelming majority (over 90%) of construction organizations have less than fifty people. And while the sneaky tricks pulled by business owners are still evident, there is often plenty of opportunity to jump ship within the same town or even street, which may place a little higher premium on keeping employees. But really, who the hell knows.
Oh well, reinventing the economic wheel in this country probably won’t happen, and it will almost certainly not be started by a filmmaker, but it definitely makes people think about what is going on and allows them to make more informed choices about what they are going to do with their life. At least the freedom to choose is still here.