October 23, 2013

The Grifters

Movie Pick: Inequality For All

Robert Reich

INEQUALITY FOR ALL (PG) Since the great financial crash of 2008, we Americans have done a lot of soul-searching about how we got to this point. Do we blame the bankers for offering up easy loans? Do we hate the Wall Street fat cats for romanticizing a "greed is good" atmosphere? Do we rebuke our elected politicians for ignoring the warning signs and caring more about the concerns of corporate lobbyists than the good of the country? Or do we blame ourselves for buying into the myth of savage capitalism? There is plenty to be angry about when it comes to the state of the economy. What can the average person do, however, when they are understandably more concerned about paying rent, bills and taking care of their families than participating in a revolution against an economic and political system that appears to have failed everyone but an elite minority of rich people?

In director Jacob Kornbluth's documentary Inequality for All, Kornbluth clearly and entertainingly explicates economist Robert Reich's theories of why the middle class in America has been increasingly squeezed financially since the late 1970s and how the divide between the underclass and the so-called wealthy one-percent has grown so exponentially. It's a harsh and distressing exposé. But it's also an eye-opening examination and one that is grounded in facts, not ideology. Something is decidedly off in America, and the stink has risen to such a level that only a willfully ignorant person would continue the great lie that it's all going to work itself out on its own.

Reich, a familiar media presence on cable news shows as well as an author and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, makes for an engaging, affable and humorous host. He also served as Secretary of Labor in President Bill Clinton's administration. Reich is routinely bashed as a socialist and liberal agitator by conservative talk show hosts, but what is clearly evident in Inequality for All, is Reich's even-handedness in addressing the economic crisis at hand. Although the documentary does have an agenda, it's a movie with a message aimed toward action (regardless of whether you're a conservative or liberal) and putting this country back on its tracks. Some will scream that the movie is attempting to fan class warfare. What it's trying to do is awaken us to the notion that the game is fixed. And the vast majority of us don't have the winning hand.