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A movie recommendation. Food for thought.

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  • A movie recommendation. Food for thought.

    [Moderator's Note: Any thread about a Michael Moore film is bound to get political, so I'm moving it to the lounge.]

     

    I thought some other people on the forum might find this interesting, or at least enjoy an interesting discussion of this:*

    Last night my wife and I watched a very thought-provoking movie that we can't stop talking about, Michael Moore's recent documentary 'Where To Invade Next'.**  Contrary to what the title might suggest, the topic discussed has nothing to do with foreign policy or military matters.  Instead its a survey of European social and economic policies.  The survey touches on things such as education policy, maternity leave, work schedules, student debt, criminal justice, drug policy, and representation for women.  A bit he does about school lunches in France had me dumbstruck.

    What I can't stop thinking about is how the overarching goal of all of the policies he shows is a concern of the people of these countries for how to best optimize human happiness and strengthen the social fabric of their communities.  Now of course, as recent news has shown, immigration in the last couple of years has really put new stresses on these social contracts, but I would argue that this is really a separate issue and is unrelated to the intregity of the policies and their potential applicability to us.

    In our country, we increasingly live behind gates, put cameras on our houses, segregate our children in school based on wealth, and in general burden each individual (regardless of economic or educational abilities) to manage all the complications of modern living by themselves.  Retirement, healthcare, taxes, and education are essential parts of the lives of every single person, and yet they are all complex, overly expensive, and therefore optimized for the highly educated and wealthy.  The complexity of these systems also allow private enterprise to come in and profit off the inefficiencies to the detriment of citizens (this, for example, perfectly explains the school lunch discrepancy he shows).  Why does this sound good or moral?  Is this really financially efficient?  Is this really the best way to optimize living standards in a society?  Are we, as a country, happy?  Is it surprising at all that demagoguery is so en vogue in the country at this moment?

    *I promise my true intent is not political. I really don't like online political discussions.  But it should be entirely possible to discuss socio-economic matters in frank, rational, non-political ways without aggravating people.

    **I know, that alone is a turn-off for many people, myself sometimes included. But rather than knee-jerk a reaction, I would encourage even people on the opposite side of the political spectrum to consider holding their nose and try watching the film.  If you object to what he presents, why?

  • #2
    Josh, I like to think that I'm pretty open-minded (being a Libra, not registered for a political party, etc) but there is something about Michael Moore that just makes me want to vomit.  Starting with Roger & Me, through Bowling for Columbine, and definitely by Sicko, watching his movies makes me feel like I'm doing sit-ups under a parked car.  Why I object to what he presents?...when I know a little about the subject matter (Sicko, Capitalism A Love Story), I feel like he misrepresents fact and leaves out other details to spin his story.  I guess it'd be fine if I looked at it more as just that--a story--than a documentary.  Similar to Fox News and MSNBC, these folks are entertainers with agenda not reporters.

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    • #3
      I agree with G above.

      It sounds like he makes Europe sound wonderful.  Did he talk about the pedophilia rings run by the police in Belgium, the racial prejudice and segregation and horrific crime , the terrorist cells, the non-productive work force that's eating away at the economy, the constant strikes in France?  The fact that the continent is being overrun by immigrants from Africa and the middle east? etc, etc?


      In our country, we increasingly live behind gates, put cameras on our houses, segregate our children in school based on wealth,
      Click to expand...


      They do it there too, if they can afford it.   Look at the neighborhoods in Belgium where the terrorists came from, or the slums of Paris where there have been riots in multiple years.  Was all that in the movie?   I'm guessing no.

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      • #4
        Man, I thought this was going to be about coming up with a sequel to The Big Short. :-(

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        • #5
          Of course I wish the vehicle for what was presented in the film was someone less galvanizing. That makes your consideration a hard sell, I know.

          I don't want to imply that my only knowledge about this comes from that movie. Because my wife spent several years living in Germany growing up we have some German friends we see fairly regularly.  These are well-educated people with good jobs.  These topics come up frequently in our discussions, with the general trend being that they can't believe how inefficient and individualistic our socioeconomic policies are, and I have a hard time defending our institutions as better or more wise.  When I share with them what I have to do to plan for education, healthcare, and retirement for me and my family they are incredulous.  My only defense is really 'I pay less in taxes', but there are some economic studies that indicate less a of true difference once you factor in how much we all individually pay for these things.

          I'm not being a Europhile or seeing things through rose-colored glasses. Of course there are big problems in Europe that are stressing these social systems. But I guess my larger question, when looking at our country is: Why are none of these things even priorities here?  Are you saying you've given up and we shouldn't even try? Many of these socioeconomic institutions are really American inventions implemented in the first half of the 20th century and then progressively eroded or discarded.

          And I guess I think this is relevant to us here because: 1. We have all spent significant amounts of time educating ourselves to navigate this complex system in which we live, and its given me a great amount of empathy for those who are less fortunate and more burdened than myself who also have to try to provide for their families and improve their lives starting from a disadvantage.  2. And I have to believe that the fear and anxiety that we as a nation live with as a result of everyone struggling independently, all the while working longer and harder, negatively affects our collective health and happiness, which is what the real reason to pursue wealth is.  (Would anyone claim that in medicine we are working less for more?)




          Man, I thought this was going to be about coming up with a sequel to The Big Short.
          Click to expand...


          Best movie I saw last year. The book was just as entertaining.

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          • #6




            I agree with G above.

            It sounds like he makes Europe sound wonderful.  Did he talk about the pedophilia rings run by the police in Belgium, the racial prejudice and segregation and horrific crime , the terrorist cells, the non-productive work force that’s eating away at the economy, the constant strikes in France?  The fact that the continent is being overrun by immigrants from Africa and the middle east? etc, etc?




            In our country, we increasingly live behind gates, put cameras on our houses, segregate our children in school based on wealth,
            Click to expand…


            They do it there too, if they can afford it.   Look at the neighborhoods in Belgium where the terrorists came from, or the slums of Paris where there have been riots in multiple years.  Was all that in the movie?   I’m guessing no.
            Click to expand...


            These types of comments makes me cringe as I know our fellow colleagues are well educated people.  What I mean is that your colleagues (non-American born) will laugh inside when they hear discussions of this sort.  American exceptionalism is important feature of us living here, but those not born here are aware of higher standard of living of Europeans (again, there are exceptions within Europe as well).  Notice how OP without prompting mentioned "europhile", there is a defensive stance.  Our country is insulated (particularly as there have not been any devastating wars on American soil for over 140 years, as well as insulation from current middle east migration). But our minds should not stay insulated.

             

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