Thom talks to Michael Moore about his new film, "Capitalism: A Love Story", 01 October 2009
Thom Hartmann: Greetings my friends, patriots, lovers of democracy, truth and justice, believers in peace, freedom and the American Way. Thom Hartmann here with you, broadcasting live today and tomorrow from Stadtsteinach, Germany, Deutschland. And a little earlier today I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Michael Moore about his new upcoming movie, here it is.
Thom Hartmann: Michael Moore?
Michael Moore: Yes sir.
Thom Hartmann: Hey Michael, Thom Hartmann here.
Michael Moore: How are you?
Thom Hartmann: I am great. Thank you so much for being with us today and for doing this interview. When "SiCKO" ended, your last movie, you said what I thought was the most brilliant definition of the difference between conservatives and liberals. You asked a question, and I think I’m paraphrasing, but I think its pretty close to it. You said, ultimately we have to ask are we going to be a ‘We Society’ or a ‘Me Society?’ And I’m wondering, isn’t "Capitalism: A Love Story" saying something similar only about the financial industry? Aren’t you really asking, are we here to serve the economy or is the economy here to serve we the people?
Michael Moore: Yes, that’s exactly right. Except I wouldn’t say it’s jut the financial system, I think it’s the economic system itself has defined the so-called democracy that we have to the point where, I don’t know if it is a democracy anymore. I mean we get to vote every 2 or 4 years, but right now the wealthiest 1% in America have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined. That is a hell of a lot of power to put in the hands of just 1% of the people who are now calling the shots, who control Congress, and who have created a very cruel situation here to the point where we’re now at almost 10% official unemployment and where we have so many people losing their homes. You know there’s a foreclosure filing in this country once every 7 ½ seconds? Absolutely insane.
Thom Hartmann: Yeah, it is. It’s truly tragic. It seems that what we have now, like what we had during the Robber Baron era, some refer to as Laissez Faire Capitalism, I call predatory capitalism. Or perhaps the cancer stage of capitalism, you know where individual cells, in this case, individual companies have grown to monopolize the resources of the host. Just like in cancer. Do you think that the system can be fixed in the United States the way that capitalism has been, apparently successfully, modified in Northern Europe? I’m talking to you right now from Germany and uh, it’s nowhere near as bad here. But we did our show last year from Denmark and capitalism actually seemed to work quite well there, heavily regulated.
Michael Moore: You know I think that um, well you’ve got this idea of regulations, and here we are, it's been over a year since the crash. You remember right after the crash, they were all ‘you know we just need to fix this with a few regulations.’ Now it’s a year later, how many regulations have been passed? None. Zero. I mean, it’s, this won’t happen on its own. You know, Congress isn’t going to do this, they’re being lobbied heavily by these banks. You know, this isn’t going to happen unless the people demand it. You know there’s a story of Franklin Roosevelt a couple years after he was elected, and a woman came up to him and she said, ‘where’s our social security, you promised us social security? We don’t have social security yet.’ He said, ‘well I’m not thinking about social security, you’re going to have to make me do it. Because I've got the banks and everything against me here, I can’t do this on my own. You and the people of this country are going to have to make me and Congress do this.’
Thom Hartmann: Do you think that there’s the will among the American people to do it? I mean we did have the largest street demonstrations at the beginning of the Iraq war in the history of the world, although that didn’t stop George Bush. And now it seems like, you know, the teabaggers with their, you know, unrealizing, unwittingly with all this corporate money behind them are the major media and protest force in America, rather than the average American who’s getting screwed.
Michael Moore: Well, you know, I think that people are, I think that there’s a level of despair right now in this country. And a lot of it is probably because there was so much hope last November, you know, when Barack Obama was elected. And Thom, I think this is like one of the worst things that could happen in everything that’s going on right now, is, especially with young people who put so much into thinking things were going to turn around here. If that doesn’t happen, if this is just the same old politics, the same old stuff, that optimism is going to turn to cynicism quickly and it’s gonna be very hard to recapture that, you know, political enthusiasm that existed a year ago. I don’t know if you’ve thought about that, or if you are worried about that, but I just think that…
Thom Hartmann: No, I’m hearing that from my listeners constantly. We’re talking with Michael Moore, by the way, his new movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story". And I am torn between wanting to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt, President Obama the benefit of the doubt and say maybe he’s playing chess not checkers and we need to wait a little longer, and on the other hand looking at how sold out Congress is and many of the decisions he’s making, um, and uh, it’s a tough one. But also, you know, the first, Franklin Roosevelt was elected on a platform of cutting taxes and balancing the budget, it took him a while, not a long while but it took him a while to really change direction. Do you see, Michael Moore, this president or this Congress changing direction, or are we going to have to have just some sort of terrible implosion first?
Michael Moore: Well I’m still optimistic and I think that yes, I think Barack Obama is going to step up here. I think he started out with a sense of wanting to get along, holding out the olive branch, it got snapped out of his hands. They have no interest in working with him, and I think he’s smart enough to know, okay, well, that’s the way you want to play it, then that’s the way we’re going to play. We control the White House and both the houses of congress, and this is what we’re going to do. That’s my hope, that’s my hope that that’s the way it’s going to go. And I’m gonna just stick to that right now. Because I don’t want to think about where else this could go.
Thom Hartmann: Yeah, we’re pretty much doing the same here, and it seems to me that the Plan B is citizens' movements not party movements, although we are encouraging every progressive in America to infiltrate the Democratic Party. We also need citizens' movements. In the movie I believe you talk about the history, or some historic citizens' movements, um, final question. What is your call for action?
Michael Moore: Um I think that first of all that people have got to stop, people on the liberal side of the political fence here, have got to stop being um, I don’t know what the word is here. You know when the teabag parties are going on, and the town hall meetings and you see the other side very vocal. People get very like ‘oh that’s it, you know, now they’re running things again, it’s all over.’ No it’s not. We’re the majority, you know. They’re just loud and annoying and they’re saying a lot of things that aren’t true, death panels and all this stuff. You know, we’ve got to get out there ourselves, you know. Everyone listening to this right now has the right to go to the next town hall meeting your member of Congress is having. You have every right to organize in your local community, to get involved. Some of you who listen to this maybe should think about running for office.
I mean, you just cannot sit back and let this happen. Everybody has to do their part. I’m doing my part, I’m making a film, I’m putting it out there. I’m hoping that it will inspire people to become active participants in their democracy. I hope people use it as an organizing tool, I hope all these things. That’s my contribution. Everyone listening to this has to figure out, has to say to themselves, ‘what’s my contribution to this process, because it is not going to happen with me just sitting on the bench.'
Thom Hartmann: Very, very eloquently said. Michael Moore, his new movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story". Michael, thank you so much for being with us. Great talking to a fellow Michigander.
Michael Moore: Hey, thank you Thom, I appreciate it.
Thom Hartmann: And in fact you made the movie in Traverse City, it’s where Louise and I, my wife and I of 36 years now, had our honeymoon. So it’s good to see Traverse City.
Michael Moore: Is that right? Oh my god.
Thom Hartmann: Michael have a great day, and keep up the great work.
Michael Moore: Thom thank you, bye bye.
Thom Hartmann: Thank you.
Thom Hartmann: What a great conversation with an extraordinary man and from everything, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but from everything I’ve heard it’s a real knock you over piece of film making, so uh, and opening I think tomorrow. So from the film maker of "Roger and Me", one of my favorites, "Bowling for Columbine", brilliant, "Fahrenheit 9/11", "SiCKO". I mean all brilliant, brilliant films. Michael Moore’s new movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story". Get out there and check it out. I’m looking forward to seeing it as soon as I get back to the United States, seeing this movie. I'm really looking forward to it.
Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.