movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Thu Dec 13 2007, 02:03pm | 10 comments
Another from necessary muckraker Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Films.
Note: Henry Kravis is only the 57th richest person in the United States. Check out War on Greed for action ideas.
(Technorati tags: Henry Kravis, Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films, War on Greed)
If one tenth of the emotional energy and financial resources that are directed by concerned citizens toward bemoaning the fates of the less fortunate, communicating their contempt for the successful, and soothing their consciences with public displays of socialist indignation were instead dedicated to educating all people, regardless of socioeconomic class, in finance and economics, utilizing the political process, making what money they have work for them, and moral philosophy, this world would already be a much better place.
contempt for the successful,
Success is fine. Kravis is a leech. A “success” as a leech, sure, but he contributes nothing to society. I think it’s worth complaining about that.
The “what would you do with all that money” part at the end is a juvenile attempt and not very effective as an ending. I have no problem with extremely wealthy people or how they choose to spend their money. Well, I think it’s dumb and nonproductive, but that’s their right as assholes.
I do have a problem with the amount of power these people have over the government and the amount of money (sometimes our money) that the government wastes by kowtowing to their demands. I also think it’s troubling but somewhat inevitable that the type of person who amasses a ton of wealth and power is usually greedy, selfish, and prone to wasteful, ostentatious displays.
It would be cool if sane, generous, reasonable, humble secular humanists could gather up a lot of wealth and power, but that kind of person isn’t rewarded in modern society and usually doesn’t go out of their way to seek wealth anyway. And in the event that they do rise to power, somewhere along the way they usually turn into greedy selfish jerks anyway.
Sooo… I guess what I’m saying is, rich selfish greedy proud bastards aren’t going anywhere soon. The only solution is better education. Sociology should be a required class in every grade and all teachers should get a twenty thousand dollar grant from the government evey year. Throw in a gender education class and a child bearing license program and were set! (I can already hear the Libertarians shouldering their bazookas, please be gentle)
I guess what I’m saying is, rich selfish greedy proud bastards aren’t going anywhere soon. The only solution is better education.
How about a more progressive tax code as a solution?
Oh, I’m definitely for a more progressive tax code too, but the problem is that wealth of this magnitude gives people the ability to find and/or legislate loopholes just as fast as the sluggish government can close them up. And despite a slight crackdown, there are still lots of offshore options for the uberrich.
I think the best comprehensive solution is to have a well educated, healthy, socially savvy and politically aware population. The simplest way to reach that goal is to attract more high quality teachers. There are tons of awesome teachers out there, but having worked in one of the best districts in the country for several years, I can confidently state that for every awesome teacher, there are six or seven that are just phoning it in (guilty as charged most days), and two or three that would be fired in any other profession.
I swear if they just fired 90% of the bureaucrats in the Department of Education, got rid of 90% of those useless Standardized Test programs, and gave the money they saved as yearly grants to teachers, the quality of education in this country would increase dramatically. It sounds too simple to work, but higher pay/prestige would tempt more bright, charismatic people away from law/business/medicine/engineering. Sure, it’s a shame to lose good doctors and engineers, but gaining good teachers would make up for the loss many times over. And who doesn’t want to live in a world with fewer business people and lawyers?
Word to Amanohyo.
My late father never encouraged me to embrace the concept of wealth for wealth’s sake but he did not kid himself that poverty was all that ennobling either. (His exact words: “Poverty is hell.”)And he always did argue that education was the closest thing to a shortcut that was going to ever exist. (It certainly helped him get out of the Detroit slums.)
Sometimes it seems like the strongest argument against rich people are rich people. (I’ve met my share of annoying types including some to whom I’m actually related. Yikes!)
How does that old quote go? “If you want to see what God thinks of money, take a look at the type of people he gave it to”?
a well educated, healthy, socially savvy and politically aware population.
Who can argue with that? But if we’re to judge by the countries that have actually achieved that, it will require a more progressive tax code that taxes people more fairly and then uses that money to create great schools and universal health care, for starters.
I agree, but I still think there should be a simultaneous focus on efficient use of the money we already take in. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing, I’m worried that we won’t be able to garner enough public support for a progressive tax code until our population becomes better educated and more politically aware. Also, when people see the government start to use money more efficiently in schools, it will negate a lot of the common arguments against universal health care.
I guess I don’t actually care which comes first, but I don’t believe that a more progressive tax system all by itself will lead to great schools and universal health care. There are certainly a lot of great government programs and plenty of well run departments, but the Department of Defence, the Department of Education, and the Internal Revenue Service really disgust me sometimes. (I’m kinda biased as a teacher whose parents both work for DOD)
It’s sort of like having a sick parent who has a gambling problem, a Hummer, an expensive gun collection, an addiction to prescription pain killers, and several needy mistresses each with children in college. If the sick parent says, “I don’t have enough money for food and gas and medicine! This college tuition is killing me! Oh yeah, there’s also this gun that would look great in my collection… and would protect me… us I mean, protect us,” you kinda hesitate to ask your rich uncle (who owns the gun shop and pharmacy) to hand them more money, even though part of it probably will go towards needed medicine and tuition.
The problem isn’t only that your sick parent doesn’t get enough money from his wealthy relative who could easily afford it. The problem is also that everyone in your family knows that he has a lot of bad habits and he doesn’t seem interested in leaving them behind. It doesn’t help that the rich uncle is encouraging your sick parent to waste the money that your family gives him at his own establishments. A family that was better educated about the bad habits and more involved in the parent’s life would do more good than a simple influx of money from the rich uncle in my opinion.
Sorry about the convoluted, sexist metaphor (reminds me of the US government =)
a simultaneous focus on efficient use of the money we already take in. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing, I’m worried that we won’t be able to garner enough public support for a progressive tax code until our population becomes better educated and more politically aware.
And we won’t be able to get to a better educated and more politically aware populace without a better educated and more politically aware populace.
So, pretty much, we’re fucked.
A couple of things:
as far as our fuckedness – on this blog of all places we shouldn’t forget that formal education isn’t the only way to get a better educated and more politically aware populace. After all, Tom Paine was able to rouse the rabble that were our forefathers with pamphlets, not college courses. And we have a shiny new Internet that makes writing pamphlets and other rabble-rousing material all too easy. By the same token, our movies, TV shows and literature can do a great job of consciousness-raising. Unfortunately, @amanohyo, it’s the rich uncle who’s encouraging all of our lazy habits who has the bully pulpit. The subliminal message of most popular media is to reinforce the status quo.
But I believe that people want to learn – look at how popular the Discovery Channel is. Unfortunately , our early experience with education is built around building conformity not curiosity. This rigidity effectively destroys children’s built-in desire to learn which is, by its very nature, rebellious.
I could go on (and on and on ….)
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