Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Open Letter To Michael Moore

Dear Mr. Moore:

I write in response to your recent comments to the effect that "Capitalism is legalized greed."
I congratulate you on an insight we would expect from any slightly below-average third grader. By fifth grade, I would expect a more sophisticated insight, such as "Capitalism is legalized ambition."

The difference might escape you. Ambition is the drive to better one's self. Greed is an unconstrained quest for wealth, with little or no regard for the means or consequences of acquisition. While greed itself is not illegal, many of the behaviors is produces are - theft, fraud, corruption, etc. Selling snake oil under the guise of documentary films is not currently illegal, but perhaps it should be. So much for your implication that capitalism is legalized theft, if not an out and out license to steal.

Semantics aside, consider some of the benefits wrought by capitalism:

  • Thomas Edison made 100s of experiments before hitting upon a workable filament for the electric light bulb - because he hoped to make lots of money.
  • Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others gave us the personal computer - because they wanted to make lots of money.
  • Even Warfarin - the famous rat poison and blood thinner - was brought to market to generate revenues for the University of Wisconsin - hardly a bastion of reactionary Robber Barons.
  • Or, closer to home, look in the mirror. Who was Michael Moore before "Roger and Me"? Are you a conscienceless Robber Baron? A ruthless exploiter of the laboring classes? Or are you simply a successful capitalist - someone who identified an unmet need and cashed in? Does that make you and astute business person or, as your comments suggest, a loathsome leach on the proletariat?
Yet questions remain. What alternative economic system would you suggest? Feudalism, in which might makes right? I am rather doubtful that you would be able to fend off either ravening Vikings or avaricious Normans. Your girth might qualify you as Friar Tuck, at least until the vow of poverty made itself felt, but a sycophant like you would doubtless settle for nothing less than Fool.

Socialism? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"? Would a successful, happy and prosperous socialist society need a maker of hack propaganda films? Neither can we overlook your rather conspicuous consumption. Surely you consume more than your fair share. Not to mention your health care shadow (I claim copyright to the phrase) - what it will cost the rest of us when your arteries finally clog and your heart throws in the towel.

If you are serious about socialism, you'll need to reduce your consumption, and thereby ease shortages of food and fabric. Indeed, you might donate some of your shirts to earthquake relief. They would doubtless make excellent tents. More, you will need to find a useful and productive trade and learn to survive on the same types of food as the working stiffs. I just can't see you embracing those challenges.

There is yet another system - cronyism. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Also known as The Chicago Way. It is a wonderful system for those with larceny in their hearts, but it does not promote law and order. You might still be able to make movies, provided you do not offend Mr (or Ms) Big, and as long as you make all the requisite pay offs. Rather like dealing with the Obama administration.

I fear I remain confused. You believe capitalism is immoral, even though it has made you rich. Perhaps you can explain your thinking to me. The next time you are in town, we can tool around in your limo, smoke a couple Cuban cigars, swill some cognac and you can explain to me, first hand, how we are helping end the oppression of the working man.

No comments:

Post a Comment