Daily Archives: October 6, 2009

Moore, capitalism, and me

Good morning. I belong to a book discussion group that meets on Sunday morning. We try to get together socially once a month also. Some times we do, some times we don’t. We decided this month to attend Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story.

As with his other films, I sometimes feel he is trying to portray himself as a common everyday man when in fact he has become rather wealthy making all the documentaries he has. For some reason his appearance and actions don’t seem to me to connect me to the topics he investigates. I am distracted knowing he’s a member of the big boys’ club himself. However, he did grow up with a father who had a factory job in a factory town. Maybe he just portrays himself in a manner to which he is accustomed. I doubt if he would have the same impact in his confrontational films wearing a power suit.

That being said, despite the fact that so many feel he is a blowhard, I tend to see him as a canary in the mineshaft. He tackles the subjects that are poisoning our society and tries to sing his warnings.

He doesn’t have all the answers. I don’t think anyone has all the answers. He’s just raising the questions. One question that he raised for me is, “How did so many people from Goldman Sachs manage to get top government positions?” I have yet to find internet sites that speak of how many in those positions are in some way connected to this mega bank and for how long.

One site did mention that GS has paid back $68 billion of the $700 billion of the TARP funds they brokered in a back room Congressional deal. Now my aging mind can’t really wrap it’s thoughts around that many zeros. All I think I know is that if I borrowed $700 last year from my bank and at this point in the year had paid back a whopping $68, they would be all over my backside with credit ruining methods to squeeze the 92.3% still owed to them. I don’t think we should praise GS too early in this game. However, they do have a better track record of repayment than the other big boy bank clubs mentioned in the movie.

I thought the GS-Government connection was positively scary. I am certainly not a student of the constitution, but I don’t think our forefathers ever envisioned our country’s finances being run primarily by one private company. Yet, from what I gathered from Moore’s film, that’s exactly what has happened.

I have heard of the big boys clubs since college. It seems the big boys are still making all the rules and “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” as Capt. Farragut is purported to have said. It seems their credo is, “We care not whose lives we ruin with our policies and our practices in our pursuit of the biggest profits possible. As long as we line our purses first, damn the little people.”

I guess this movie resonated with me because of the funds I lost last year. Not that in the larger scheme of things it was a very significant amount. It was too me, however. It took so many years to carefully build up my retirement fund only to see it decimated in so few weeks. In spite of the “abundance” attitude I spoke of yesterday, I still feel myself in an uneasy position more often than I did two years ago when the market was riding high. I thought I lived carefully enough and saved enough to last me longer than I am going to last. I do not ever wish to be in a position of having to be dependent on my son because with his wandering ways he’s not one to be able to attach any plans.  

I was particularily dismayed with the broker of my fund. He never once said I’m sorry. He told me stick it out, don’t take your money out as I watched the value slide. I chickened out and took my funds out of stocks. They had a bank account so I thought I would be safe transferring the remaining money into that. I thought at least I wouldn’t lose any more and when the market came back I could transfer again. I was not told that this was not set up like a regular savings account that paid interest. It was just a “holding” account they called a “bank”. They continued to take out the same “management fees” each month as if they were buying and selling. Of course they send out quarterly reports so by the time I realized what was going on, I was down a significant chunk of change three months later in addition to the declining value of my depleted stocks. This was a company I had been with for over twenty years! They also charged me a “handling fee” for transeferring my IRA. This was a company who over that length of time danced with so many partners I couldn’t keep track. It’s impossible to find out on the internet much about this company now but there was one article discussing its ties with one of the big boy clubs mentioned in Moore’s movie.

There’s a song we sing in church with the words, “I release and I let go”. It’s good to be continually reminded that that is the way I should live my life. Let go and let God. It’s much easier said than done but one I need to practice every day.

At least at this point my home has not been foreclosed and I can take care of my basic necessities. The rest is just pure gravy any way. With the help of God my needs are being met and I have few wants in my life. So….I’m happy.

Now, if we can just turn around our government and our capitalist system to be more fair to more people. We’ve had the great middle class for a long time. I’d hate to see us go back to royalty and surfs, even though it sometimes appears that we are headed in that direction.

Y’ll have a good day. Namaste. Attic Annie

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