Saturday, October 03, 2009

Victims, Villains, and Heroes

Do you know what a "dead peasant" policy is? You would if you were the widow of a former employee of Amegy Bank, in Texas, which collected approximately five million dollars after he died of cancer. These policies as "often secret" and "taken out by companies on unwitting employees, which can yield sizable corporate tax breaks." In her article, Ms. Schultz opens as follows: "For years, American companies have taken out life insurance on millions of their employees, harvesting tax advantages that fatten their coffers and collecting death benefits when they die. Now, some family members are crying foul." Pretty scummy, huh?

What about plutonomy, a word so strange the spell check program here doesn't recognize it? According to an internal 2006 Citigroup memo regarding "America, which has turned into a modern day plutonomy". With the wonders of the internets (sic) I was able to unearth at least part of the report, which frankly pretty much reinforces things that are plainly obvious.

In a "plutonomy", according to Citigroup global strategist Ajay Kapur, economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few.

If it were someone on the Left pointing out this uncomfortable fact we would have been accused of fomenting class struggle. What if it's a giant bank, which is not only describing, but celebrating this key fact of the world economy? As usual, accusations of "class struggle" seem to be reserved for those of us who point out who's winning.

I learned about both of these concepts, and many more, from Michael Moore's new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, which opened last night at the Savoy. In addition to the victims, like families losing their homes to rapacious banks; and villains who have gotten rich off the taxpayers; Moore presents us with heroes, including Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the workers at Republic Door and Window, who staged a sit-in at their factory until the company agrees to pay them the Trade Readjustment Act money it owed them.

You might say this is standard Michael Moore fare, and I guess that would be right. Still, the combination of outrage, humor, and insight into things you've never heard of make this worth seeing. A love story? Well, that is something I question.

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Blogger Watercloset said...

I saw it on Friday. It was vintage Moore, trying to take on such a huge subject in his rather slap stick way, but what he revealed about what American capitalism and culture have come to is sickening. He is right, though. Americans really do fear democracy.

October 07, 2009 4:47 PM  

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