Monday, October 5, 2009

An Open Letter from Michael Moore

Seldom does Michael Moore drop his showmanship and get personal, so I considered this open letter, available at several locations, too good an opportunity not to share with you.


republican_jesus I'd like to have a word with those of you who call yourselves Christians (Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Bill Maherists, etc. can read along, too, as much of what I have to say, I'm sure, can be applied to your own spiritual/ethical values).

In my new film I speak for the first time in one of my movies about my own spiritual beliefs. I have always believed that one's religious leanings are deeply personal and should be kept private. After all, we've heard enough yammerin' in the past three decades about how one should "behave," and I have to say I'm pretty burned out on pieties and platitudes considering we are a violent nation that invades other countries and punishes our own for having the audacity to fall on hard times.

I'm also against any proselytizing; I certainly don't want you to join anything I belong to. Also, as a Catholic, I have much to say about the Church as an institution, but I'll leave that for another day (or movie).

Amidst all the Wall Street bad guys and corrupt members of Congress exposed in Capitalism: A Love Story, I pose a simple question in the movie: "Is capitalism a sin?" I go on to ask, "Would Jesus be a capitalist?" Would he belong to a hedge fund? Would he sell short? Would he approve of a system that has allowed the richest 1 percent to have more financial wealth than the 95 percent under them combined?

I have come to believe that there is no getting around the fact that capitalism is opposite everything that Jesus (and Moses and Mohammed and Buddha) taught. All the great religions are clear about one thing: It is evil to take the majority of the pie and leave what's left for everyone to fight over. Jesus said that the rich man would have a very hard time getting into heaven. He told us that we had to be our brother's and sister's keepers and that the riches that did exist were to be divided fairly. He said that if you failed to house the homeless and feed the hungry, you'd have a hard time finding the pin code to the pearly gates.

I guess that's bad news for us Americans. Here's how we define "Blessed Are the Poor": We now have the highest unemployment rate since 1983. There's a foreclosure filing once every 7.5 seconds. 14,000 people every day lose their health insurance.

At the same time, Wall Street bankers ("Blessed Are the Wealthy"?) are amassing more and more loot -- and they do their best to pay little or no income tax (last year Goldman Sachs' tax rate was a mere 1 percent!). Would Jesus approve of this? If not, why do we let such an evil system continue? It doesn't seem you can call yourself a Capitalist and a Christian -- because you cannot love your money and love your neighbor when you are denying your neighbor the ability to see a doctor just so you can have a better bottom line. That's called "immoral" -- and you are committing a sin when you benefit at the expense of others.

When you are in church this morning, please think about this. I am asking you to allow your "better angels" to come forward. And if you are among the millions of Americans who are struggling to make it from week to week, please know that I promise to do what I can to stop this evil -- and I hope you'll join me in not giving up until everyone has a seat at the table.

Thanks for listening. I'm off to Mass in a few hours. I'll be sure to ask the priest if he thinks J.C. deals in derivatives or credit default swaps. I mean, after all, he must've been good at math. How else did he divide up two loaves of bread and five pieces of fish equally amongst 5,000 people? Either he was the first socialist or his disciples were really bad at packing lunch. Or both.


Michael Moore

Inserted from <The Huffington Post>

I’m going to disagree with Moore on one point.  It’s a matter of semantics, not substance.  I have no problem with authentic capitalism.  What we practice and refer to as capitalism in the US is not capitalism.  True capitalism, as envisioned by Adam Smith, requires so many independent suppliers of any commodity that the price of any item is the point at which supply intersects demand.  When supply is dominated by just a few giant corporations who collude on price, that defeats Smith’s whole purpose.  That is not capitalism.  As I see it, charging a fair price for an item that buyers are willing to pay does not conflict with Christianity.

However, what we practice in this country is corporate plutocracy, that is rule by the rich through giant corporations.  If re improperly define capitalism to mean this, then everything Moore has to say rings true.  I agree fully with him, both as a Christian, and as a human being.

All three of today’s main articles deal with a common theme, and are best taken together.  I hope you’ll take a little extra time out of your busy day and read all three.


Fran said...

I thought that this was great when I saw it yesterday! Thanks for posting it Tom!



We in France should put forward Michael Moore for the Legion of Honour for advancing the cause of democracy and humanity.

I have always believed that one's religious leanings are deeply personal and should be kept private.

He is absolutely right! That's exactly how I personally see it. I find it tacky when politicians keep mentionning God or their faith in their discourses or when a group of the population in the so-called developed world carries the Holy Bible, preaches the word of God with "a gun in one hand."

Religious intolerance, cultural bigotry were two of the causes of hundreds of hundreds of years of wars and the decimation of millions and millions of people in Europe. We learned the hard way.

But doesn't mean that bigotry is extinct. I think we try very hard to be less bigotted over here -- don't really know if we are succeeding; safe to say that we certainly don't want to go back to the Middle Ages when people were hanged drawn and quartered because their religious or political beliefs or background didn't coincide with those of others.

Sue said...

spoken so well, I really like Michael Moore as a person of thoughtfulness and caring about his fellow human beings. Of course the right will say he's no different than any other greedy American raking in his millions from his movies, but his movies are not just for entertainment they are an information tool for our better understanding whats really happening in a corrupt society. I also don't like when people flaunt their religion on their blogs, but I guess thats how they define themselves.

the walking man said...

I advocate that now is the time for all artists and poets, writers of prose and painters of pictures to come to the fore. Now is the time for the community of the creative to be heard and seen, not in some mass demonstration that is so easily shrugged off but in the individual production of talent.

I advocate that now is the time for them who have had their wealth stolen and become homeless or otherwise destitute to find the estates of them who robbed us and set up as one, the tent cities on the expanse of lawn. Authority would be dissuaded from wreaking havoc on a thousand souls moving into a gated community, let those communities of the wealthy pay for their care.

I advocate that now is the time for the very ill and the terminal without insurance and adequate care to make their way to DC and die on and be ill on the capitol steps. Let the authority in that place see what they are blinded too.

I advocate a peaceful but vocal campaign. The fight has long been brewing and that the entire goal of the corporacracy of the rabid radical conservatism movement is to turn us against us, to deflect us from waging the war against the them that abuses us.

If we do not enjoin this battle right now then I can only see a very violent response from them who have been abused but do not understand the how that abuse was delivered. Hungry homeless people will find their critical mass and they will rise up and shed blood, but it will be the wrong blood.

Now is the time to shed the light into the rat nest and take back our society from the few who only strive for one thing which is to be the largest holder of the most wealth.

If there is a chance left to save this nation and bring some form of sanity back to American policy, there must be some action taken beyond the ballot box which we have recently learned is easily purchased by them with enough money and power to reward perfidy.

by the by Mohamed advocated capitalism in that he advocated for the Muslims to be a merchant class. At the same time he told his adherents to be particularly mindful of the widows and orphans among the people of the book.

ivan said...

...Agree with Mark.

Oh if artists were given only one day the same money and leverage of the flyers and commercials that glut our mailboxes and airways.
There'd be far fewer commerical zaps and trashed flyers for sure.
Somebody might acrually read, view and think.
Maybe even give up diet pop.

TomCat said...

Fran, you're quite welcome.

Thanks, HB. I'm not pushy about my religious belies either. However I do find myself bringing them up more often than I would loke to do, just to remind people that there are authentic Christians who do not follow the Supply-side Jesus dogma of fear, greed, and intolerance.

Sue, I don't see MM imvolved in conspicuous consumption. It appears he uses his wealth to make more exposes.

Mark, I fully agree and wish I had the means, help, and permission to attend.

TomCat said...

Sorry Ivan. We were commentig at the same time. That I believe.



just to remind people that there are authentic Christians who do not follow the Supply-side Jesus dogma of fear, greed, and intolerance.

Please continue. It is important to denounce religious bigotry, and any type of bigotry, whenever and wherever possible.

Weren't illegal wars and genocides committed in the name of bigotry?

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Hello TomCat.
You don't know me, but I've just found you and wanted to comment... in alignment with you. I agree with your post. And resulting comments. I am a corp. president (tennie tiny little my own company) who it occurs to that there was Peter & Paul to take care of the, ah, "group coffers" since as the story goes, Jesus was want to give it all up freely when the need was there. Facing each 1st of the month I do so much Peter & Paul-ing I've worn a robe and gone barefoot for over a year. It sounded a bit like glamor to me that MM was off to mass, also. On the whole, I like what he does and how he gets it done... he's a rebel. Is there such a thing, in today's global marketplace as authentic capitalism? I so very much in agreement that charging a fair price for what people are willing to buy is not conflicted with 'Christian values'.

This 'Jesus' topic is going around, isn't it?

Jolly Roger said...

You know, "capitalism" is as perverted a term as "conservatism" these days, and there really doesn't seem to be an authority by which we can settle on a definition of either word; the capitalists inevitably turn into what they are today, and the conservatives are anything but.

There isn't, in practice, much difference between the totalitarianism of Stalinist Communism and the so-called "capitalism" practiced in this country. A few people control the means of production and distribution, and they also happen to control the Government. This is the Stalinist setup, and I believe it is doomed to suffer the same ultimate fate.

Hill said...

I have a HUGE problem with those who kill in the name of their god.

I want no part of a god who revels in the blood of the innocent.

That being said, thrilled Michael Moore is going after Wall Street and Congress.

His is a powerful voice and his gift is to share it with us.

TomCat said...

HB, they certainly were, and thank you. My one intolerant weakness is not to tolerate intolerance in all its forms.

Welcome Gwendolyn. I guess I know you now. Thanks so much. If you read much here, you'll see lots of ire vented at corporations. Please know that I'm not referring to the small business corporation at all. I do not believe authentic capitalism exists anymore. It once did, but corporate plutocracy did it in. There is a lot of spiritual posting going on. I think it may be that authentic Christians are tired of having their faith dragged through the dirt by the followers of Supply-side Jesus.

JR, you're certainly, although I see it a little closer to classical fascism, in that the only access a common individual has to power is as a member of a group.

So do I Hill. So do I. That's the ultimate in intolerance. I fully agree.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

TomCat, u don't even FEEL that way... about small business, the opposite feeling is here. And I tend in the very same direction... I'm of a mind that we need more little businesses of 'makers' / manufacturing uniquely! Ah, but I would... shameless self promoting again.

Um...I think the spiritual posting is also a rebound to some of the astronomical influences lately... but that's an other blog...:-)

Mary Ellen said...

Great post, TomCat! I agree, what we call Capitalism today seems to be off a bit from the reality of what it was supposed to be.

IMO, it all centers around greed. Many large corporations today are taking advantage of this economy, knowing that their workers have no place to go, so they are forcing pay furloughs on them, cuts in pay and benefits, and basically treating their workforce as if they are a bunch of slaves. They can get away with this because there is no law, as far as I know, that prevents them from doing this.

Sure, there are instances where a company may have to enact a furlough in order to keep it afloat and keep them from having to let workers go. But there are MANY corporations who are doing this even though their profits are just fine. (Honeywell is one of those corporations).

Like you, I've usually tried to keep my faith out of discussions, but lately I've decided to just let it go. I don't push my faith on others, but I think it's important to stand up and voice my opinion when it comes to how the economy is affecting ordinary citizens, or when I see our government officials trying to stick it to the middle class and poor in this country in order to garner more power for themselves...I speak up, and if it means using my religion and faith to get my message across...I go for it.

RealityZone said...

i am a soc/cap, or cap/soc.===socialist capitalist--cpitalist socialist. as i also believe that this is where the world will finally end up. all the isms are experiments, and most if not all have failed society in general. a combo of soc/cap will fuel the engine of commerce. all the while benefiting its people, not its board rooms.

MadMike said...

Great graphic TC and Michael Moore said all the right things. I am going to see his movie this weekend.

Oso said...

Nice article TomCat,I'm in agreement with all your points.I'm kinda like Reality Zone,I'm down with capitalism as long as there's a helluva social safety net.
It's terrible the way the Right vilifies the poor or the working poor as undeserving,the same way they condemn the uninsured as undeserving.

TomCat said...

LOL, Gwendolyn. Self promoting indeed. I wrote the first software program for astrology on a personal computer in 1975. It was pretty advanced for its day and even accounted for the variation in the obliquity of the elliptic. I looked for you on facebook, but could not find you there.

Nunly, it looks like we're right on the same page there.

Thanks, RZ. I like socialism of natural monopolies, free enterprise for small business, and heavy regulation for giant corporations, breaking up the ones that are "too big to fail".

Thanks Mike. I hope you're post a review for us. :-)

Thanks, Oso. I agree. We need to start governing for the people, not against them.