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Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 1:15 p.m. ET

Discussing 'Capitalism' With Michael Moore

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Michael Moore
Tuesday, September 29, 2009; 1:15 PM

Michael Moore tackled America's gun culture in "Bowling for Columbine," George W. Bush and the Iraq war in "Fahrenheit 9/11" and the health care industry in "Sicko." With his latest film, "Capitalism: A Love Story," he confronts yet another subject: our current economic crisis.

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Moore was online on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 1:15 p.m. ET to answer questions about the movie and his work as a documentary filmmaker.

"Capitalism: A Love Story" is currently playing in limited release and opens in additional theaters on Friday, Oct. 2.


washingtonpost.com: Technical difficulties: we are starting shortly...


Michael Moore: It's great to be here in our nation's Capitol. Scene of the crime, make that many crimes. And I'm ready for the first question.


Arlington, VA: What would you propose in place of capitalism? Maybe it's our political system that needs serious reform, i.e., legalized bribes called "Leadership PACs", gerrymandering, etc. Cleaning up our perverted political system should be the first step in reforming our country.

Michael Moore: I agree but I don't think you can reform capitalism at tis point because it's become so bastardized to the point where it's only purpose is to protect the wealthy and legalize our greed. We need to come up with a 21st century idea. Structuring a legal system that has two major underpinnings: democratic values and an ethical code.


Philadelphia: Considering the sizable revenue you've generated from your films, isn't an attack on capitalism and free markets a bit hypocritical? If capitalism is a rigged game for the big Wall Street players, you've certainly played the game well, haven't you?

Michael Moore: I think that the success of my films has nothing to do with capitalism. Capitalism is a system of exploitation, of using working people, not paying them properly, no guaranteeing them health benefits, and now it's turned into a system where it's just about making money off money as opposed to making money by making things.

I share the wealth that Icreate. My employees have full medical benefits, there's no deductible. I give me employees unlimited paid sick days, and for maternity leave they are paid for their maternity leave. How French of me.


Takoma D.C.: Your films are so in your face (I love them). Have you ever had people threaten to kick your, um, butt? Have you been audited by the IRS or otherwise harassed by the powers that be? There are surely plenty of people out there who don't want uncomfortable truths told in public. Or do they just ignore you and hope you go away? Just curious.

Michael Moore: Nobody wants to hit me probably because they're afraid that I would fall on top of them. The only time I was audited by the IRS is when I went to Nicaragua when I went to do some reporting for my paper in Flint back in 1983. That year, I made a total of $12,000. Since "Roger and Me," I have not been audited once.

I;m guessing that's because I don't take many deducations and I pay all of my taxes. An audit worksd both ways. If they were to audit me they'd find I could claim a lot more deductions and they'd be writing a check to me.


New York, N.Y.: Exceptionally good film.

Did the farm family in the film get any recompense from your company or from anyone? I wished there was some reversal for their loss and I want to believe that some wealthy donor contributed to their income so that they could stay in their house. I, unfortunately, earn barely enough to survive.

Michael Moore: I retained an attorney for them, which I am paying for. This attorny believes their house was stolen from them bby the bank, and we will fight the bank until they are back in their house.


Kennebunkport, ME: Do you believe that the mainstream media (Washington Post included) will ever take the issues raised in your movie seriously with aggressive hard hitting investigative journalism or will they continue to pay lip-service and duck that responsibility to the public by poking fun at you and every other "conspiracy nut" for not providing "the solutions" in your film?

Michael Moore: I'd like to list my conspiracy theories in my previous films. In my first film, I alleged that General Motos was a company that wasn't being run right and would eventually fail. In ":Fahrenheit 9/11," I went out on a limb and proposed that we would find no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Two years ago, with "Sicko" I thought someone should reignite the health care debate.

I am one crazy m.f. As far as The Washington Post and the mainstream media goes, we are in desperate need of the fourth estate doing their jobs and being the watchdogs in a democracy. We may be in the final year or two of being able to read a daily newspaper in many of our towns. This is tragic but many of these papers have brought this on themselves. I will have more to say about this at a later time, about how capitalisam killed the daily newspaper, but let me say this one thing: the newspaper should stop blaming the Interneet for their deemise. The newspapers in Europe are not folding and people ahave told me they have the Internet in Germany or Sweden.


Santa Cruz, CA: Is there any way we can cause our government to consider working class needs without having public financing of political campaigns?

Michael Moore: Public financing of our elections is the abolute No.1 piece of legislation we need to pass. Most of our inability to have laws passed that benefit working people is the result of working people not being able to buy members of Congress.


Rockville, Md.: No one questions or can really criticize your love of the people who suffer the most in the economic downturns and reshufflings this country has endured, but do you ever think your love of state/Flint ever undermines your ability to investigate the issue in a well-rounded fashion? In an era were almost every political argument (both conservative and liberal)has a corresponding emotional appeal, how do you as a filmmaker remain self-conscious and critically reflexive ... if that plays into your thinking at all. Thanks.

Michael Moore: Well, this film and all my films deals with subjects far beyond Flint and Michigan. As far as the emtoional conflicting with the intellectual, film is an art form. And all artists are attempting to evoke something from the viewer: laughter, sadness, anger. And so, I am doing something that all art tries to do, but I have the added thing of when you leave the theater, I also hope you're thinking about this issues and will explore them futther. No two-hour film can do justice to any issue, and that's why those who view the film have to do further exploration and investigation of the topics.


Annapolis, Md.: How do you think the president is doing so far on Health Care?

Michael Moore: I wish there were millions of people out there supportin him vocally, visibly right now. But it's hard to excite the base when what you're proposing is the compromise position instead of starting with what he really wanted and what we really want, and starting with the final offer. The public option that the private insurance companies still get to call the shots isn't something to get exited about. Universal health care is what Americans want and they want it know. Standing in the way of that risks the wrath of the voters a year from this November.


Bethesda, Md.: Recently, I read that this might be your last film documentary. Is this true, and if so, why?

Michael Moore: At the end of the film, I issue a challenge to the audience. If they get up out of their theater seats and go ome and become part of a movement that needs happen in this country and back the President on the initiatives that he needs to pursue, I will keep making these movies. But I'm not going to be the only one out there alone, so it's up to the people. If they want me to make more movies, I'm going to have to see the public getting off the bench and becoming participants in the democratic process.

I;m sorry we didn't have more time, technical difficulties. Here we were are in a place that advertised wireless, someday these claims will be true. In the meantime heading over to NPR where I'll be live on talk of the Nation. And I hope to return to washingtonpost.com, and thank you for having me here. I'm honored to be ere.


Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

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