The most amazing thing about our Democracy is that we have a unilateral right to freedom of speech.
Sometimes, we don't agree with what is said.
At other times, we passionately embrace what has been said and we dedicate ourselves to what that speech has called us to.
And sometimes, that speech starts a conversation which needs to be said.
A wise venture capitalist once told me that you should be open to having "any conversation..."
That's where I am tonight. Entering into a conversation which I think needs to be had.
It's a conversation I think we're having as a society now thanks to Michael Moore's new movie.
I just got back from an off-the-grid, incognito visit to the theater - which was packed, by the way, in Rockville to see Moore's new film "Capitalism: A Love Story."
And we've got a few things we need to talk about tonight as a Democracy.
I'm not going to spoil the film for anyone. Rather, I'm going to passionately encourage you to go see this work and to judge it based on what is presented. Then, I'm going to encourage you to explore the other side. And I'm going to ask you to find your own thoughts on it.
Naturally, I'm going to share some of mine.
1) What the hell is going on behind the scenes? Behind the curtain ala the Wizard of OZ in corporate America. Specifically, behind the veil of the financial institutions? Why did we unilaterally hand over $700 billion dollars to banks with almost no accountability? Institutions which doled out BILLIONS in bonuses and for needs - like private jets and million dollar meetings at posh resorts around the world? Was this to help people who lost their homes? I'm not defending idiots who borrowed more than they could ever repay or morons who gave and received toxic loans. No, I'm wondering why we gave more money to gamblers with an obvious problem so that they could go back to the casino called Wall Street to belly up to the blackjack table to gamble with OUR money? Explain that to me like I'm a three year old. I don't get it. But we did it. And when Congress voted it down, the Wall Street people - and in particular people from Goldman Sachs - orchestrated a plan with a lame duck and future President, along with the elected on BOTH sides - to pass this with a sense of urgency we've not seen from anyone since... well, post 9/11. Why is it this was allowed to happen? Why weren't we the people told what was going on? Why did it just pass without any debate? How did we allow this to happen as a free society?
2) Who in the hell believes that it's LEGAL for big business to take out life insurance policies on ME or ANYONE listing themselves as the beneficiary? Google the term Dead Pheasants and read just how much you are worth to the company you work for should you die unexpectedly. It's just unreal - and how it's allowed - is totally beyond me. In the movie, we see several examples of business taking out these insurance policies and cashing in to the tune of MILLIONS of dollars... why? Because they bet that we might die. And, if you die young, like in your twenties or thirties, they get paid even more. And this is LEGAL and accepted? Excuse me? You and I can't take out a policy against a house in our neighborhood getting burned to the ground because we'd have an interest in causing such arson. But in the business world, it's okay. Why? Unreal.
3) Are the same factors in place working against a Public Option of healthcare for all as they were with this bailout that came down for the banks? I mean, both make TONS of money. Both spend TONS of money to influence the Hill downtown. Similarities? Absolutely.
4) Are we powerless to do anything about this?
5) What is going on with Goldman Sachs and what would possess a CITI analyst to write a memo saying that America is not a Democracy, and that the real wealth and power is held by the top 1 percent of people in this country, so much so that the bottom 99 percent couldn't even collectively do anything about it. What is going on when that same analyst would say that the biggest threat to their "well being" is that the bottom 99 percent of people - we, the people, can level the playing field because we have equal footing in the form of one person, one vote?
Now, I am not going to say I embrace all of Moore's ideas in this film. As a GOP analyst I was put on the phone with tonight following the movie told me, "Moore is a propagandist..." and I'll agree because he is certainly one who espouses effectively his ideas on how our society should change. But I'll be damned that this stuff is happening in our Democracy.
We need to have a conversation, America. We need to do something about this which is so unilaterally and apparently wrong that if it is left unchecked, will reap even more socio and economic havoc that the results will be unlike anything we've ever seen.
So let's start the conversation.
We need to - IMHO:
• Restore regulation and oversite to our financial institutions to ensure that this sort of greed and corruption and absolute financial and economic power NEVER threatens us again.
• Get health care fixed and create a public option which ensures that we can't be modern day slaves to the health empire the way we are to the financial empire. God knows the similarities between the two are striking and the only difference is that we've not had a health care catastrophe happen which could be compared to 9/11 or a stock market meltdown
• Shut the fear mongers UP. Once and for all. By countering their useless rhetoric with real facts.
• Outlaw these insurance polices companies take against people dying. This is fundamentally wrong and ought to be illegal.
• Demand our elected officials get off the pot of the lobbyists and start working for the people who sent them to DC in the first place.
You've got to see this movie. Then, evaluate it. And see what it says to you. Then get in the rhetorical ring and join the conversation. Our society is counting on it.