Monday, February 29, 2016

Where to Invade Next [2015]

MPAA (R)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars)  RogerEbert.com (4 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (G. Cheshire) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review  

Where to Invade Next [2015] (written and directed by Michael Moore) is a film that to many Americans and to many Readers here would seem like a fantasy:

In a voice over, Michael Moore tells us that he had a dream: The President and U.S. Joint Chief of Staffs invited him over to the White House Situation Room and confessed that they had botched every single war since "the big one" (WW II) and asked him for help.  Michael Moore then offered himself as a "one man army" that would invade lands mostly inhabited by Caucasians with names that he could generally pronounce and that he would take from them ideas that would help make our land great again.

So dressed in an army flak jacket and cap and literally draped in the American flag, Michael Moore sets out to invade ...

Italy (where people seem to always be happy - "like they all just had sex" - why/how?  well they have state mandated 4 weeks vacation which when one includes state holidays and yes "everything closes for August and Christmas" becomes closer to 8 weeks + 13 months pay for 12 months of work each year, sure ;-),

France (where kids seem to eat well, even at school),

Slovenia (where even college education is free, even for foreigners, even for Americans who occasionally find their way to this educational shangrila),

Finland (which banned homework and standardized tests and yet their kids score higher on said international standardized tests, when apparently they take them, than any other country),

Norway (where even maximum security prisons are geared toward rehabilitation, the maximum sentence for any crime is 20 years, and yet has one of the lowest crime rates in the world),

Germany (that has accepted responsibility for past-Genocidal wars / the Holocaust and thus has been able to rejoin the rest of the world and quite happily move on ...),

Portugal (which lowed both crime and drug use by ... decriminalizing drug use and focusing on drug treatment instead),

Tunisia (a nominally Muslim country that actually constitutionally guarantees women equal rights),

and finally Iceland (land of the Vikings, which nonetheless elected the first woman President ever and has found that women run corporations actually run more honestly / better than those run by men.  In the financial crisis of 2008, every major bank in Iceland collapsed except for one run entirely by women which operated under the very simple principle -- if you can't explain it in one or two sentences then don't buy it -- and thus saved their shareholders the disaster of buying into those unfathomable "Collateralized Debt Obligations " that ended up tanking the world's economy).

 A lot of this may upset various American Readers.  How can it be?  It can't be that easy.  And Michael Moore does freely admit that most of these countries have much higher tax rates than the United States.  But he also notes that many of the above services need to be provided and paid for anyway.  And we do ... we just don't call them taxes ... and a lot of people here do without.

Anyway, Michael Moore has long been a lightning rod.   But he does give viewers a lot to think about.    Why do things _have to be_ the way they are here, and _can_ we learn, at least a little, from others?   Especially since many of the ideas that seem to work elsewhere, actually had their origins (or early support) here -- unions, state sponsored education, consumer protection laws, equal rights for women ...

So good job Michael Moore, good job!


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