- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Roger & Me, a documentary with humor

Posted by: Kweassa ( the Great March ) on November 01, 1999 at 10:31:59:

In Reply to: I don't want to work on an assembly line anyway. posted by DonS on October 31, 1999 at 17:56:15:

:"Really? Ever seen "Roger & Me"?"
:"No, what's that?"

Roger & Me, a documentary with humor, but also filled with cynicism which keeps reminding us the question of our social conscience. It was directed by Michael Moore, and distributed by Warner Bros. who bought it. Sort of "the Blair Witch project" of that time. You should really see it sometime. It's not "one of those films" filled with rhetorics, but gives something to think about, both to pro AND anti capitalists.

The city of Flint flourished with the automobile industry. GM was literally "born" there. Flint was the home of the very autoworkers of GM during the toughest periods of the Great Depression, who organized one of the first sit-down strikes in America.

Now one day, chairman Roger Smith decides that the wages and expenses for maintaining GM factories in Flint were too expensive. They could get virtually "slave-labor" (in rhetorical, relative terms compared with the conditions of an ordinary American autoworker) in Mexico, with low payment on the land.

Now the city of Flint was ENTIRELY an industrial city, almost more than half the working population there were autoworkers. And suddenly, GM decides to move out, and Roger Smith closed down the factories and laid off massive numbers of workers. They could make automobiles cheaper in Mexico. Yeah, it certainly WAS fine. For you, Don, since obviously you don't seem to have not even the slightest sympathy to people who actually maintained life in Flint, and for GM. Was that fine too, for the "common man" working, living in flint? Either you do not want to face that, or want to ignore it, whichever the way, you're forgetting people actually lived and worked for GM there.

:"I'm all for free trade. If we can build cars cheaper there, fine! I don't want to work on an assembly line anyway. Have you noticed that the job market is quite good despite these evil capitalists who are moving plants to foreign soil?"

Yeah, you don't work there. You've got nothing to do with Flint. I guess that makes your social conscience scot-free and "clean as a virgin", huh. Yeah, the job market was good. The lenient labor market is one of the things Americans love to brag about. You get fired then you can always get a new job. The land of opportunity, get various new experiences. And American economists just love to say "look at the unemployment rate of Europe! Look what their reformist capitalism policies lead to~!"

As a matter of fact, Europeans have better job security, and they have better jobs with stability. At least, they worry less than Americans, about getting fired everytime some new management fads take place. The total unemployment rate of America is low, but considering the instability and "lenience" of the labor market, and the part-time jobs and intern jobs people have to take, actually, America's unemployment rate is not much to brag about. It goes over 10% if you count everything that needs to be counted when talking about the labor market.

Well, Chairman Smith talked about matters of financial troubles, and said they really needed to cut down on expenses. He fired people closed down the factory and the city of Flint became literally dead in 3 years. The people were devastated, Fortune magazine's poll showed Flint as the worst city in America, the unemployment and bankruptcies rate shot sky-high, and the social state of Flint, once thriving went down to poverty worse than Harlem. And while these things happened, the manager of those devastated workers decided to give himself a huge dollars of raise - courtesy of the satisfied big stock holders of GM, and he went down to play golf.

The situation with Flint was so bad, that it even appeared in the scenario of a game called "Simcity 2000". Your objectives were to turn the devastated city into a flourishing one.

:"Piss off a lot of poor people in the US and no-one blinks an eye. Piss off a few rich people like Bill Gates or Rupert Murdoch or Bob Shapiro and you are bound for the junkyard."
:"Don: I disagree."

The people of Flint were pissed pretty bad. But the economic trend of Neo Liberalism had gripped America. The American Workers Association did NOTHING to help them, they stabbed the autoworkers of Flint in their backs. Roger & Me is about Michael Moore, trying to meet Roger Smith in person, just to ASK what he thinks about Flint. Roger was pissed, and Michael couldn't even enter the GM buildings anymore.

Yeah. What's good for big business is good for America. And what looks good in economic stats is good for you - Unless you are the one whose getting hit by a mega-millionaire tycoon driven by money.

Or maybe someday, you'll be actually treated as a living, talking man, not something represented by numbers in the stats and charts. And the rest of America won't forget you in your darkest times?

ps) Anyway, Michael Moore got to meet Roger - for about 5 seconds. And so ends the movie. While the credits are going up, subtitles informed that the Spokesman of GM, who kept defending GM's Flint-killer policies in the documentary, was laid off himself. Ah, there's justice in this world after all.

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