In "Capitalism: A Love Story," documentarian Michael Moore ("Sicko") attempts an examination of capitalism, which he claims is the root of America's evils. According to Moore, unfettered capitalism breeds greed and heartlessness, and has resulted in the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans controlling more property and money than the lowest 95 percent combined.
Moore argues that this situation is only possible because the American working class has been propagandized into believing the system that victimizes it is actually helping it. The long-vaunted American Dream promises that hard work and perseverance will allow any of us to become rich, when in reality, the game is weighed so heavily in favor of the already rich that there is little to no chance of the average person getting a seat on the gravy train.
To support his argument, Moore presents the events leading to last year's financial meltdown as rooted in a chain of swindles going back to the Reagan years. Back before Reagan rode into town and chopped the Gordian knot of Big Government with the sword of trickle-down economics, the very rich in the U.S. were saddled with up to 90 percent tax rates. Reagan cut that in half, and for the last 30 years, the infrastructure those taxes paid for back in the day has steadily crumbled in tandem with the financial regulatory infrastructure created after the Great Depression.
According to the Reaganite rhetoric, kill-or-be-killed was the economic American Way, and anyone who said otherwise was a commie, or worse, a dirty liberal.
As usual, Moore backs up his arguments with seemingly solid research and fact-checking. But also as usual, his focus is all over the place, and guided more by emotion than an actual point.
Moore opens with a family being evicted from their foreclosed home by a coterie of sheriff's deputies, then moves on to a family being thrown off its farm, where the ancient father laments the leveled spark plug plant he used to work in, and relays several examples of people making loose attempts to organize against the injustice. One is led to feel bad for the victims and to be angry at the system that's victimizing them, but that anger is never channeled toward an achievable target.
Trying to put the concept of "capitalism" on trial is like trying to indict Santa Claus; he has an effect on the real world, but no known address. Capitalism is everywhere and nowhere, and therefore, unavailable for comment.
In the end, Moore is reduced to wrapping "crime scene" tape around the AIG building, a stunt that accomplishes exactly nothing, not even admiration or solidarity from the audience. It serves to underscore the hopelessness of the situation Moore has outlined for us. If a lame stunt is the best Moore, with a good-sized budget and his fame working for him, can come up with, what are the rest of us going to do?