“What happens when the rich get richer?” so posits the cover of this excellent documentary. Fire up the disc & the first statistics that emerge are
“35 years ago an economic project in the US & UK was supposed to provide a better life for all.
Today, in both countries, inequality is at it’s highest level since 1928”
Trickle Down economics, essentially – the more the 1% (if that even?) gorge at the top, the bigger the crumbs for those below, was always just a sanitized fraud for the most hulking heist & heinous of human activities – abject avarice, rapacity, mega greed, social insouciance, classism, plutocracy, oligarchy, kleptocracy & indemnity. Even worse, it was used not just to excuse such dreadful actions, but to suggest that they were actually positive/beneficial/praise-worthy spawning the much iterated “greed is good” adage. Incredibly, despite the towering multi-manifold pile-ups of refuting evidence & consistent catastrophe & detriment this stupid & absurd sham has so grievously inflicted, this ridiculous erroneous hoax still dominates policy makers & international politics & is not met with universal derision & condemnation (though the withered strands are barley clinging to the bent mast as the suffering spirals).
This excellent documentary from director Katharine Round strives to blast the “trickle down” travesty by exploring the lives of seven UK & US citizens inter-cut with commentary from a large gamut of economists, journalists, philosophers, ex financial sector scions, writers, political analysts & Wall Street shit-heads. Some of them are, now repentant, ex ministers & political operators who now express regret at believing in this lie back when it at least did not have decades of failure in it’s wake (Sir Alan Budd in particular). These are very important & powerful admissions, when you have people from the apparatus now saying that it was a mistake. Seven personnel doesn’t really sound like a sufficient figure to grasp a decent account of the asperity modern Western poverty entails, but they have done a remarkable job with this film. There are two affluent characters on the roster, one seemingly much more critical of the life-style & demographic, & another, a Wall Street psychiatrist & his wife, who demonstrates some of the blandest & dumbest examples. It’s incredible. I never fail to be shocked at how poorly cultivated & intellectually maladroit so many rich people are (& yes, I have rubbed shoulders with plenty), not even on a deep level, but in basic fundamental capacity. The awful display here chimes so much with the high-performance conformity, vapidity, overt insecurity & lack of depth & substance that so many of these losers are wracked by. Presumably, much of the responsibility for this deficiency is with the private (mis)educational institutions that spawn these chumps, where they are taught that they are “owed” & “privileged” rather than “earning” by “merit”. Once your earning, it matters not that you are a ragged husk of a being, drained of meaningful content & human ingenuity, because the money begets status, desired objects & lifestyle opportunities, rather than securing/attracting them through personal substance, power, distinction skills & abilities. Money is the ultimate fake power, hence the millionaire moron being such a common blight. It’s funny, there’s a Scottish guy in the doco, a recovering alcoholic from a deprived part of Glasgow, & he is so much more articulate, defined & distinguished than the Wall Street psychiatrist. Again this is the dis-empowerment & distortion that incapacitates so much of the poor. Shit conditions aside, they often don’t recognize their brilliance, because they are looking at their lives & the world through the prism of a capitalist, money worshiping error that is blasted non-stop through every mode of media 24/7. Getting people to self-violate through major media/social misinformation is part of the monster’s game & one of it’s “greatest” successes against the human being & freedom principle.
One of the strongest moments of The Divide comes from a man who is seventeen years into a twenty-five-year sentence in a secure Texas jail. His crime? Getting caught with 1.5 grams of dope. The notorious & perverse “Three Strikes” legislation (we have “these allegations are false” Bill Clinton to thank for this along with the dissolving of Glass-Steagall) that means irrespective of the specific crimes scale, a third offense means a life bid (25 years). His main section only lasts about three minutes, but it is a searing piece. Just the most horrific of injustice, sickness & immeasurably negative effects of the hellish penal system, so powerfully defined. It’s massively damning of the prison system & concept, almost an entire tangent. This is another feature that The Divide does so well, dipping into the many related & co-acting predicaments that this vast subject denotes. This stretch is followed by a series of comments from philosopher Anthony Appiah, who informs that America incarcerates more people per capita than any other country on the planet. “Land Of The Free” then?
Another high-light comes from ex Deutsche Bank vice president Alexis Goldstein whose candid disclosures are further illumination & confirmation. Listening to individuals who work within the machine, or more likely (& as is the case here) who have worked within the machine talk honestly about it’s reality is a critical medium that requires as much attention & exposure as possible.
Serious applause for Katherine Round. This film was based on the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett. Not to be confused with the fantastic book by Matt Taibbi (also called The Divide & also reviewed on Bleg here – https://bleg.jigokuki.org/the-divide-american-injustice-in-the-age-of-the-wealth-gap-matt-taibbi/ ). An amazing & immensely important production.
It’s worth putting two articles in the spot-light here, both of which were printed in The Guardian & probably the strongest examples I have heard on the subject in the last few months from both sides of the Atlantic & both sides of the Divide. They are absolutely devastating. Note in particular the proclamation from the deluxe Yacht merchant on how much easier it is to sell the largest yachts now because – “the world is wealthier than ever before”. Remuneration in ruination. – https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/12/teens-america-hunger-food-poverty
Director: Katherine Round
Dartmouth Films/Literally Films