Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dead Peasants

Saw Micheal Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story.

Even though I find the obligatory maudlin portions of his movies hard to endure - where he speaks in defeated, sorrowful tones as he's outlining an injustice - I do like the information he brings to light. And he's usually got his facts right. Most debunkers of his movies argue on ideological terms, not factual.

I started this movie with dread, fearing he'd actually conclude that socialism is the way to go. He doesn't; he says democracy is the way (thank God). Essentially, according to what he presents, American is a plutocracy right now. I tend to believe that. (Clearly most of the folks who've posted negative reviews on Amazon did not watch the whole movie, as they claim Moore is championing socialism.)

For me, the gobsmacking moment comes when he reports that coroporations since the 80s have been taking out what they call "Dead Peasant" insurance (aka Dead Janitor insurance), which is a life insurance policy on a "rank and file" worker formed without their knowledge. If that worker dies while under their employ, they get the death benefit. It was originally meant to cover high-level and highly-paid executives whose demise would constitute a hardship for the organization, but then someone realized that they could now take out a policy on anyone in the company, and it became this morbid investment practice.

Moore mentions the law that prevents you from taking out a fire insurance policy on your neighbor's house because you then have a vested interest in their house burning down. Why should employers pay for expensive health care when they actually gain from your death?

How is this not the same thing?

Here's a clip put together by Moore to advertise the movie, which covers this Dead Peasant stuff:

Here's the full sequence from the movie:

Here's news report on the same:

Yeah, you wanna see Capitalism: A Love Story.

Btw, I think parts of a society are best done is a socialistic manner: police (and by extension the armed forces), schools, medical care, retirement benefits, and highway/transportation/infrastructure; but it is pretty much a bad thing when it's placed as the primary construct of the economy.

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