I went to see the film Where to Invade Next yesterday and it confirmed my view that Michael Moore is one of the most important American makers of documentaries. He is unabashedly political but manages to mix his messages with humor and that is what makes him different. The film is very cheerful and hopeful, that we can do better than we do.
Moore looks at the practices of other countries that benefit almost everyone and that they take for granted but are viewed as unthinkable in the US. The film focused on education, creating good working conditions with salaries that people can live on and good benefits, humane prison systems, prosecuting bankers and not drug users, increased role of women in politics, and the importance of honestly remembering the mistakes of our past.
I was particularly moved by his examination of educational and prison systems. What we do to our children and prisoners seem so barbaric by comparison.
As Joseph A. Palermo writes:
Moore dispels the myths about how horribly the Europeans are taxed by showing: 1). They aren’t taxed that much more than Americans anyway — especially when factoring in the out-of- pocket expenses for basic services we pay; and 2). They get so much more from their governments than we do.
The movie ends on a positive note. But it’s still a heartbreaking movie for any American to watch who hasn’t completely lost his or her grasp of the meaning of human dignity. At a time when Hillary Clinton and countless political commentators are telling us that this country is incapable of fundamental change it’s great to see Michael Moore pointing the way forward through another excellent and provocative film.
The United States has so much to learn from the way people in other countries live but is too busy straddling the globe as a military colossus to take notice. It’s impossible not to feel envious of the people Moore interviews in the film whose lives contrast so starkly with our own, which makes his critique of American capitalism all the more devastating.
Moore acknowledges that he was only picking out the flowers of other countries, looking at the things they do well and not at their problems. But the question that he asks is provocative: What prevents the US from adopting those same practices? The answer is obvious: Making things better for most people requires reducing inequality but in the US the right of a tiny minority to make vast amounts of money is not challenged.
Here’s the trailer.