A Must See: Michael Moore’s film “Where to Invade Next?”

Micael Moore’s Where to Invade next
Joe Schwarz
“By the end of Where to Invade Next — after seeing working-class Italians with two months paid vacation, Finnish schools with no homework and the world’s best test scores, Slovenians going to college for free, and women seizing unprecedented power in Tunisia and Iceland — you may realize that the entire movie is about how other countries have dismantled the prisons in which Americans live: prison-like schools and workplaces, debtor’s prisons in order to pay for college, prisons of social roles for women, and the mental prison of refusing to face our own history.
You’ll also perceive clearly why we’ve built these prisons. It’s because the core ideology of the United States isn’t capitalism, or American exceptionalism, but something even deeper: People are bad. People are so bad that they have to be constantly controlled and threatened with punishment, and if they get a moment of freedom they’ll go crazy and ruin everything.”
*****************
Gayle’s summary of the film plus additional sources

Michael Moore’s documentary Where to Invade Next reports on humanitarian models in European countries and Tunisia, an excellent illustration for this section on solutions and realistic goals. Moore points out that free health care and education require higher taxes but people in the US end of paying more for basics like education and health care. He adds that over half of the discretionary budget goes to the military and its failed wars. Columnist Jon Schwarz commented on the film, “The entire movie is about how other countries have dismantled the prisons in which Americans live: prison-like schools and workplaces, debtor’s prisons in order to pay for college, prisons of social roles for women and the mental prison of refusing to face our own history.”[1]These are the programs featured in Where to Invade Next that oddly was rated R:

 

Free university education shown in Slovenia, contrasted to billions of dollars in US student debt. When the government proposed tuition in 2014, student protests prevented it and the party in charge was voted out.[2] The previous endnote source lists other countries with free universities. A group called Picture Motion provided links to follow-up on some of his models in the US including doing away with debt.[3] Students in France are served a free gourmet four-course hour-long lunch so they learn how to eat healthy foods. When Moore offers the children a Coke they’re not interested and they were grossed out by photos of school lunches in the US.

Finland has one of the best education systems in the world and doesn’t require homework. It raised it’s low standing in the 1960s when it was on a par with US education to be near the top. In student-centered education, teachers and administrators said they wanted students to be happy, have time to think for themselves, play and be with their friends and family. Students are in in school only 20 hours a week and engage in physical education, art, music, baking and other crafts so that children can be children. Schools don’t rely on multiple-choice tests or national achievement exams. It’s illegal to charge tuition so all kids go to the same quality schools.

 

Worker rights, shown in Italy and Germany. Moore announced the creation of the “Hammer & Chisel Awards” to individuals who make a difference for poor people including the working poor. The first award went to a cook for the US Senate who helped organize a strike. Italian workers have eight weeks of paid vacation, double pay in December, two hour lunch break so they can eat a good meal at home, and get an additional 15 days after marriage.

In Europe new mothers often between 14 and 22 paid weeks, and new fathers can take three months of paid leave in Italy.[4] Many countries allow both parents to share as long as two years of unpaid leave in France or three years in Spain. Sweden offered 12 months of leave since 1974 and Britain began the policy in 2015. Norway, Sweden and Iceland have a “daddy quota” that requires the father to use part of the parental leave or the family will lose it.

German workers have a 36-hour work week and are paid for 40 hours. Stressed German workers can get a doctor’s prescription to attend a spa to relax for three weeks. About half of boards of large corporations represent workers.

 

 

Equal rights for women, shown in Iceland and Tunisia. Unlike the US, 165 countries guarantee gender equality in their constitutions but the US Constitution. The ERA Coalition organized a pledge to promote equality for women and an equal rights amendment.[5] Moore points to free women’s health clinics in Tunisia that include free birth control and abortion and a history of women’s rights demonstrations in Tunisia. Women chanted, “Women are complete, not complements.” They succeeded in including women’s rights in the constitution of 2014. It spelled our equal opportunity in all fields, including political representation, and an end to violence against women. The parliament approved it by a vote of 200 to 12. The leader of the Muslim Ennahda party Rachid Ghannouhchi said he asks his wife to wear hajib but that’s a private matter, the state shouldn’t get involved. Moore interviewed a woman radio journalist who said she knows about American government, music, literature, and clothes, but asked “What do you know?” about other countries. Why do Americans spend so many hours watching reality shows like the Khardasians, rather than reading?

In Iceland about 90% of women went on strike on October 24, 1975, to celebrate the UN’s women’s Year, shutting down the country. A radical group called Red Stockings suggested the “day off.” “It was, in all seriousness, a quiet revolution,” reported Elin Olafsdottir who latter represented the Women’s alliance on the Reykhavik city council.[6] Within five years they elected the world’s first woman president, a single mother. Women told Moore they thought they lived in the best country for women and that when at least three women in a group change its culture for the better because they think about all the stakeholders not just personal gain. They wondered if the crash would have been avoided by Lehman sisters. They said in Iceland they care about the group, the WE, compared to the ME in the US. They couldn’t live with themselves if their neighbors suffered the way the poor do in the US. During the economic crash of 2008, the only bank that didn’t fail was a woman’s bank. The guilty male bankers were jailed. Large companies are required to have at least 40% of each sex on their boards and parliament members are 40% female

 

 

Police and prison reform, shown in Norway and Portugal. In Norway, an unarmed prison guard in a lovely rural prison explained, “The main idea is just to take away their freedom. That’s the only punishment we are giving them. We are trying to help them back to society.” No one can be sentenced for longer than 21 years in jail unless they are deemed to be a threat to society; then the term can be extended. Its recidivism rate is much lower than in the US’ 80% rate. In Portugal, decriminalization of drugs in 2001 resulted in less drug use. Three policemen told Moore their job was to preserve human dignity and act on principle. Moore pointed out that the rise of the black Civil Rights movements was accompanied by prison labor and harsh prison sentences for drugs used in black neighborhoods such as crank versus cocaine used in white neighborhoods.[7]

 

 

[1] https://theintercept.com/2016/02/10/where-to-invade-next-is-the-most-subversive-movie-michael-moore-has-ever-made/

[2] Jennifer Baker, “Student Protest in Ljubljana Against Privatization of Higher Education Act,” Revolution News, April 16, 2014.

https://revolution-news.com/student-protest-ljubljana-privatization-higher-education-act/

http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/student-loan-debt-countries-free-college-tuition/

[3] WithoutStudentDebt.org

View story at Medium.com

[4] Jon Henley, “Parental Leave Rights Differ Around the World,” The Guardian, November 29, 2013.

http://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2013/nov/29/parental-leave-rights-around-world

[5] http://www.eracoalition.org/pledge.php

[6] Annadis Rudolfsdottir “The Day the Women Went on Strike,” The Guardian, October 18, 2005.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/oct/18/gender.uk

[7] Saki Knafo, “When It Come to Illegal Drug Use, White America Does the Crime, Black America Gets the Time,” Huffington Post, September 17, 2013.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/racial-disparity-drug-use_n_3941346.html

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