By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
Robert Reich makes his audience believe in the power of economic forces
If you believe in and stand by Matt Damon’s “Inside Job” documentary on the collapse of Wall Street (and the federal government’s response), then you will absolutely want to buy “Inequality for All,” a newly released documentary studying the causes of America’s shrinking middle class, now playing at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
Robert Reich, the personable Secretary of Labor during Bill Clinton’s first term in office, is the star here. Blessed with the skill for making economics feel as up close and personal as any date on Match.com, Reich uses news clips, animated graphs and catchy photography to takes us through the past 30 years of America’s economic history.
But first take a minute to realize how the nation’s major newspapers have failed its readers by providing only superficial coverage of this glacially developing story on the growing income gap and how news entertainers such as Jon Stewart and his “Daily Show” have become the main real-news conduit to a numbed out national audience.
If Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his famous fireside chats today on any television network, he’d have to include dazzling special effects.
But back to Reich. He makes the convincing argument that if democracy is to survive in this country, there must be a thriving middle class to facilitate the rise from poverty to wealth that is at the heart of everything American.
Once that dream is dead, says Reich, so is the United States as we know it.
While prickly Republicans will be eager to shoot down the economist’s every basic assumption, and progressive liberals will do the same, there is a progression of logical developments that begins in the late 1970s.
That’s when several technological developments made it possible for large American companies to shift their means of production to other countries.
Thus, iIntricate parts designed in one country could be built in another country, and in yet another country several of these off-shore manufactured parts could be assembled even more cheaply into a new product that could then be sold at a very high price in the country of origin.
Thus the big American company takes in lots of money, though all the jobs to create that product were paid to workers in other countries. Is this sounding familiar?
Reich pulls in other factors such as the mantra that giving tax breaks to American companies means more jobs for American workers. Nope. That hasn’t happened and Reich has the research to prove it.
The bottom line is that the United States is the richest country in the world, but now has shriveled up public schools that fail its students and unemployment rates worse than many so-called Third World nations.
Though “Inequality for All” tackles dense subject matter its conclusions are easy to appreciate for any member of the middle class – whether rising, falling or struggling to make that mortgage payment.
See it now and buy a copy when it’s available. Keep it right alongside your copy of “Inside Job” in that special spot next to the TV.