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Where_to_Invade_Next_posterLUMPENPROLETARIAT—What’s the point of a good idea, if it will gather dust on the forlorn bookshelves of cloistered academia?  For example, modern money theory (MMT) proves mathematically, logically, that our government can do real things to help the economy, such as end involuntary unemployment today. [1]  But we, the people, are often unaware, or uninformed, or ignorant, of many important and emancipatory truths about how our political economy actually works. [2]

This is why public, albeit popular, intellectuals, such as Michael Moore are so important to our collective psychology and narrative.  Courageous truth-tellers point us in the right direction, even if they aren’t high-level experts in each particular area to which they draw attention.  Michael Moore is one of the most successful documentary filmmakers of all time.  And he’s helped bring radical, Leftist, and socialist views to the mainstream, even if some of us to the Left of Moore haven’t agreed with all of his positions. [3]

Today, Michael Moore spoke with free speech radio’s Davey D, as the filmmaker prepared to deliver a presentation on Sunday at the San Francisco Regency Ballroom.  Topics included the 2016 USA presidential elections.  They also discussed Moore’s latest film, Where to Invade Next, which contrasts the social provisioning processes of the USA against socialist-leaning nations.  Listen here.  [4]

Messina

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Where to Invade Next (2015 official trailer #1)

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[Transcript by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and Hard Knock Radio]

HARD KNOCK RADIO—[13 MAY 2016]  “What up, everybody?  Welcome to another edition.  It is Hard Knock Radio.  Davey D hangin’ out with you this afternoon.  On today’s show, we talk with the one and only filmmaker extraordinaire Michael Moore.  You don’t wanna miss it.  All that and more coming up after the afternoon headlines.”

[KPFA News Headlines (read by Mark Mericle) omitted by scribe]

DAVEY D:  (c. 7:00)  “Davey D, Hard Knock Radio, hangin’ out wit’ you this afternoon.  Joining us on the phone line is somebody who’s no stranger to our airwaves.  You know him.  You love him.  He’s somebody who always speaks truth to power.  We’re talking about filmmaker, social commentator, freedom fighter, somebody who hits hard when they need to be hit, we’re talking about Michael Moore.  How are you doing this afternoon?”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Oh, I’m well.  Thank you, Davey.  That’s very kind of you to say those things.”

DAVEY D:  “You know this has gotta be probably the most adventurous, historic political season, that I think many people have experienced in a lifetime.  And, of course, I would wanna get your off-the-cuff comments about it.

“Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary, all the madness, that’s goin’ on leading up to the dwindling of candidates.  How are you seeing this current election?”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Well, first of all, I take a very optimistic [chuckles] view of it.  A democratic socialist, at this point, he has 45% of the pledged delegates.  He’s won 19, I believe, states at this point.  And he’s ahead in five of the last eight in the polls.

“So, that’s just an amazing thing to have happened, that that many Americans wanted that radical of a change.  It’s really, it’s something to just pause and consider how far we have to go, perhaps, isn’t as far as we used to think we had to go.  So, this year has given me a lot of optimism on that level.

“On the other side, we have a billionaire or an alleged billionaire—I’m not quite sure what he is—who is going to be the Republican nominee.  And I think that that’s how it should be.  I think that side, that basically runs the show, the people that have the money, the people that call the shots, now really have one of their own.  Unfortunately, he’s kind of the, [chuckles] a rawer version of what they usually try to put out there.”

DAVEY D:  “M-hm.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “And, so, we get to see him for exactly what he is and, really, what they stand for, which is a lot of hate and a lot of protection of their interests.  And I think this is gonna be a very interesting six months.  And we, really, probably, haven’t even really begun to see just how exposed the system is going to become.”  (c. 9:59)

DAVEY D:  “You know you mentioned that to have a democratic socialist in the race and to have this many people backing him is optimistic.  You know?  And I just remember, when Obama was running, the word socialism was used to try to derail him.  And it was almost a dirty word.

“But, you know, under Obama we had the Occupy Movement.  Many people would say it helped change some of the narrative.  And I know I saw you speak at some of those encampments.

“But I wanna ask you this.  The Occupy Movement has almost been forgotten, even though it was just four or five years ago, in many people’s minds.  And I’m not sure if we saw that reflected in the electoral side of things.

“Do you think that this Sanders candidacy will take this a little bit further, more than just the rhetoric?  But will we, actually, see it reflected in who gets into office as well as policy?”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Well, these young people, who have been voting for Sanders by 70- and 80%, when Occupy happened, you know, some of them were in high school.”

DAVEY D:  “Mm.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Some were in college.  It had an impact on them, that I don’t think anybody’s really written about or really acknowledged that what they saw, or what they experienced at that time, as young people, I think had a tremendous influence on what was, really, their political beginnings.  I mean their political beginnings, as a teenager, were to understand that the 1% ruled the 99%, that, while we called this a democracy, it’s a democracy in the sense that we get to vote—those of us whose votes aren’t getting suppressed or gerrymandered—for politicians.  But we don’t have a democratic say in how the economy is run.

“Now, the things, that really affect people’s daily lives, we have very little say, if any in this.”  (c. 12:02)

DAVEY D:  “Right.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “And that’s what they learned.  They learned that lesson at 12, 14, 16, 18 years old.  And now they’re voters.  So, there would be no way you could scare them a word like socialism this year.  In fact, they embrace it.

And all the polls have shown that young adults between 18 and 35, if given a choice between socialism and capitalism, they prefer socialism.

“At the end of the year, the Webster dictionary online announced, as they do every year, the most looked up word—”

DAVEY D:  “Right.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “—in the dictionary online last year.  And that word was socialism.  (c. 12:49)

DAVEY D:  “That’s [inaudible].”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “So—yeah.  This has had an impact, that probably can’t be seen right now, but will be seen and will be written about when people look at this whole—and, and it’s not just Occupy, too.  It’s Black Lives Matter.  It’s a number of things, that had happened where people have risen up, where people have said we’re not taking it anymore—you know?—where a young woman climbs a flagpole in Columbia, South Carolina.  Just one person just climbs the pole and cuts that flag down.

“And it’s symbolic, but it’s great symbolism because it represents what’s really going on with a generation—”

DAVEY D:  “Right.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “—with gender, with race.  And all of this has come together.  And a lot of it is connected to those people who have, you know, been there at the barricades over the last, you know, five to ten years.”  (c. 13:50)

DAVEY D:  “Right.  If you’re just tuning in, we’re talking with filmmaker Michael Moore.  He will be in the [SF] Bay Area this Sunday.  We’ll give you some information about that and let you know where he’s gonna be at and what he’s gonna be choppin’ it up about.

“But I wanted to just kind of build off of what you were talking about—you know—this excitement, new people coming into the fold and embracing what many would say are new ideas, or suppressed ideas that are now risen to the forefront.

“We all know the adage that:  All politics are local.  And, even as we see Bernie Sanders gathering so many people around him, we have to look at things locally.  So, let’s look at what’s happening in your home state of Michigan.  How is it?  What do you attribute this?  A Black Lives Matter movement, an Occupy [Wall Street] movement, all sorts of things have been presented to people and have raised their consciousness.  Yet, you still have the type of stuff, that are going on in Michigan with this governor Snyder, the laws, that he’s put in place.  And, of course, we’ve seen it play out with these water crises, both, in Flint where you’re from and, of course, in Detroit.

“How do we make heads or tails of him being able to maintain his office?”  (c. 15:18)

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Well, first of all, again, it’s a tribute to Occupy [Wall Street]l and it’s a tribute to Black Lives Matter, that the governor of Michigan, once he realised that the water in Flint had been poisoned by the decision he made to unplug the city’s drinking water from the fresh glacial waters of Lake Huron and make the people of Flint drink from the Flint River, once he got the reports and once he understood that the children of Flint were being lead poisoned by this, his fear of people finding out compelled him to cover it up, to say nothing—his employees doctoring the books.

“Now, you only do that sort of thing when you are living in an era where you see that, if people find out that in this majority black city, in this majority poor city, where you’ve removed the elected mayor and installed your own crony to run the city, and then that crony poisons the people of Flint in your name, and he’s doing it so he’s gotta save you money because you’ve given the rich, in your first year in office, a billion dollar tax break.  A billion dollar tax break.

“Well, that money’s gotta come from somewhere.  You gotta start cutting services.  Hey, what do we do.  Well, here’s one idea:  We can save $15 million dollars by making sure the people of Flint don’t drink fresh water.”

DAVEY D:  “Hm.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “And that’s what—so that’s what—and they can probably get away with it in the sense that people were poor.  People who are of colour don’t have lobbyists, don’t make multi-million dollar campaign contributions.

“Maybe they didn’t know it was gonna be poisoned water.  But, once within the first six months they knew and did nothing, that’s the same as if I saw somebody who put some arsenic in your coffee right now and I said nothing; and I watched you drink that coffee.  Am I guilty?  I didn’t put the arsenic in your coffee.”

DAVEY D:  “Yeah.  Mike—”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “I think I’m guilty.  Yes.  And, so, once the governor knew and tried to cover it up and said nothing, and for another nine months people didn’t really know what was going on, they went into cover up mode.

“And it was very disheartening, to say the least, to see president Obama go there last week, to Flint, and drink a glass of water, of Flint water, and tell everybody it’s okay when he knows it’s not okay.  All the scientists and the people around him know it’s not okay.  And it just reminded me of—if you look at the—there’s a photo of him trying to take a sip of the poisoned water and his lips are all tight.”

DAVEY D:  “[faintly chuckles]

MICHAEL MOORE:  “He’s got that look that a four-year old has on his face when he doesn’t wanna take his medicine.  But he was having to drink poison.  And he knew it.

“But, because he didn’t go there to tell people he was gonna dig up the pipes and put new pipes in and really take care of the problem.  He was there to try and restore people’s faith in government because government had poisoned him, poisoned the people.

“And because he is part of this system—you know—Hillary’s right when she says:  Hey, I’m not the only one on the dole here from Goldman Sachs.  Goldman Sachs was the number one campaign contributor to Barack Obama in 2008.”

DAVEY D:  “Right.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “And we learned within one month of his election what he was gonna do for them by installing Timothy Geitner as Treasury Secretary and Larry Summers as the person in charge of the economy.  And that was disheartening, I think, to many people, including myself, who’d voted for Barack Obama.  (c. 19:48)

“And it, uh, I wish he had gone to Flint and, um, I wish he had that attorney general Lynch arresting the governor of Michigan.  Instead, he just became part of the problem.  And it’s very sad to have to witness that.”

DAVEY D:  “Do you think, when people see this—you know—that sort of charade—and I should remind people Michael Eric Dyson, who we had on not too long ago was very critical of Barack Obama for not even showing up at Flint the first time he went to Michigan in the aftermath of this water crisis.  He just stayed in Detroit and never went up the road, as he said, the 60 miles up the road to Flint.  Then, when he went, as you’re pointing out, he drank poisoned water to restore our faith in government.

“But, it’s that faith in government oftentimes leads to many people who just won’t vote at all.  And do you think that’s a wise tactic?  Do you think that those who are seeking office need to change their approach to get them to go to office, so that maybe governor Snyder can be bounced out?  Maybe an attorney general or a D.A., that’s not doing right can be removed.  What do you think it’s gonna take?”  (c. 21:01)

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Massive non-violent civil disobedience, a real uprising.  And that will happen because now the people of Flint have completely lost faith.  People are very upset and very angry at the president for his—for what he did in Flint.

“And I think, now, the only thing, that’s gonna change it is for, not just people on Flint, but for people all over the country, is to come to Michigan.  Come to Michigan this summer and participate in civil disobedience, and not so much in Flint, either, but at the state capital or at the governor’s home in Ann Arbor, or in any of the white communities in Michigan where the governor never would have done this.  And everybody knows it.

“It doesn’t really matter what your politics are.  You can ask anybody:  Do you think the governor would make the people of Bloomfield Hills or Grosse Pointe or Ann Arbor drink poisoned water?  Everybody knows the answer to that question.”

DAVEY D:  “You know, um, you have a new film. Where to Invade Next.  What is that about?  And, you know, how long has it been in the making?  And is it something, that you feel is one of your best pieces of work?”  (c. 22:32)

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Well, it’s a film about, um—the title is a riff on, basically, where we’ve been invading these countries and killing people and completely destroying their political and economic and cultural structure to the point where we’ve left quite a mess and caused a lot of hurt and harm.

“And, so, I pose the question at the beginning of the film:  What if we were to invade countries and not kill anybody, but actually go look for some good ideas—

DAVEY D:  “Hm.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “—and bring them back to the U.S.?  And, so, that’s what the film is.  It’s two hours of me traveling to various countries and showing people how these forms of socialism work.  And they work quite well.  And all these things, which Bernie [Sanders] has talked about, which he’s been criticised for.  Oh, that’s just pie-in-the-sky.  Or: We can’t afford that.  Or whatever.

“Actually, dozens of countries do a lot of these things.  And they can afford it.  And they work quite well.  And the people benefit from it.

“And, so, the movie, basically, lays out the evidence for what he’s saying can, and should, happen in this country.”

DAVEY D:  “What are some of the countries, that stood out for you, that we should really look into their quote-unquote ‘good ideas’?”

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Well, it was really like taking a dart and throwing it at the map because you could go, practically, anywhere and find good ideas, that people are actually enacting and living.  And some of it is pretty basic stuff:  paid maternity leave; paid vacation; you know, the way, that the police treat people; the way, the criminal justice system works.”

DAVEY D:  “Mm. [sirens blare in the background] You know, I know you

MICHAEL MOORE:  “Soyeah.”

DAVEY D:  “You, you were talkin’ about one of Bernie Sanders’ things is about free educationreducing student loans, and, you know, you wrote a synopsis where you talked about, you know, Norway and Finland and, then, France and all of that.  You know; are those practical examples where they are, you know, maybe steps ahead in the education?  Because they are much smaller countries than the U.S.  And that’s always been the excuse:  We can’t carry out these socialist ideas because we’re such a big giant company, we can’t be [SNIP]

“.”

MICHAEL MOORE:  ”

 

[SNIP]

[SNIP]  (c. 59:59)

Learn more at HARD KNOCK RADIO.

[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]

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[1]  For example, modern money theory (MMT), as taught at heterodox economics departments, such as at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), the USA’s state monetary system can afford to spend for public purpose because it is the sovereign currency issuer of its own currency, namely the U.S. dollar.

Also, the fact that the US dollar is a major international reserve currency further buttresses the USA’s monetary sovereignty.

Essentially, the USA can afford to spend without fiscal constraints.  The only government spending constraints are real resource constraints.  As one of my UMKC professors says:

“MMT emphasises the relationship between the state’s power over its money and its power to do things, real things, to conduct policy in an unconstrained way.  It emphasises that the state, because of its power over money, has a form of power to command resources in the economy.”  —Dr. Stephanie Kelton 

The ‘Angry Birds’ Approach to Understanding Deficits in the Modern Economy” presented by Dr. Stephanie Kelton at the Student Union Theatre, University of Missouri-Kansas City on 19 NOV 2014

[2]  And, get this, one of my professors, Dr. Stephanie Kelton, who taught us students about MMT, was actually hired by Bernie Sanders to work as chief economist for the Senate Minority Budget Committee, i.e., the Democrats.  Later, Dr. Kelton would also go on to work as chief economist for Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Party presidential candidacy nomination campaign.

So, naturally, it has been disappointing that we haven’t heard Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail teaching the nation the heterodox economics knowledge he’s surely privy to, having allied himself with Dr. Stephanie Kelton, who is easily one of the most dynamic public speakers on the revolutionary implications of modern monetary theory for public prosperity.  Bernie Sanders could be talking about how the USA, understanding MMT, can create a job guarantee programme, capable of offering employment to anybody willing and able to work.  Dr. Kelton and others throughout heterodox economics could reinforce these arguments for ending unemployment with technical analyses.

But, instead, Bernie Sanders is holding back.  And, worst, he’s vowed to support Hillary Clinton and not run as an independent or with an alternative party if he fails to get the Democratic Party nomination.  So, by not speaking the full economic truth taught at heterodox economics departments, such as Dr. Kelton’s University of Missouri-Kansas City, Bernie seems to be conceding his full potential for making a positive socioeconomic impact on our society by placing his allegiance to his political party rather than to the spirit of the popular support placing their hopes behind his campaign.

And, of course, meanwhile, others in the public eye on the Left, such as Michael Moore and Davey D, will certainly be left completely in the dark about radical and emancipatory economic ideas, such as modern money theory.

[3]  Perhaps, the most controversial position taken by Michael Moore was actually not very controversial as it transpired at the time.  But, in hindsight, Moore’s decision to abandon Ralph Nader’s campaigning for president after the 2000 U.S. presidential election, moving politically rightward, and supporting Democrat Al Gore for president in 2004.  Most shamefully, and anti-democratically, Moore publicly pleaded with Ralph Nader not to run.

[4]  Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving:  Hard Knock Radio, hosted by Davey D, Friday, 13 MAY 2016, 16:00 PDT, one hour length.  [N.B.:  For some unfortunate reason, Hard Knock Radio usually deletes their digital archives from public access two weeks after the initial broadcast date.]

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[16 MAY 2016]

[Last modified 01:21 PDT  26 MAY 2016]

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