Gone With The Wind, Michael Moore style
I cannot recommend this article in City Journal strongly enough (thanks Adam, Stacy). I don’t hate Michael Moore nearly as comprehensively as some might expect, and as a Roman Catholic, I am no champion of libertarian market-worship.
But Kay Hymowitz nails down how Moore’s economic vision and his animus toward “Corporate America” is, among much else [none of it pretty], basically a form of childhood nostalgia. He romanticizes, particularly in ROGER & ME (a great film though it is) America’s post-WWII industrial heyday, and blames “corporate greed” for its disappearance. But Moore never acknowledges that the job security and relative affluence his father enjoyed four decades ago at the GM plant in Flint was the result of specific historical circumstances. WWII had bankrupted or destroyed the infrastructure and economies of the other great industrial powers, and the 1973 Arab oil embargo had not yet sunk Detroit’s model for success.
Greedy CEOs didn’t turn the industrial Midwest into the Rust Belt. It was basic economics. All was not sunshine and light in the postwar boom. Factory floor jobs were stressful, repetitive and at times dangerous, while the Flint, Mich., of 1959 can no more be an economic model than can the plantation South of 1859. Both are gone with the wind, and sit-down strikes and assembly lines are not a useful economic agenda any more than moonlight and magnolias.
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