Unfortunately, the people who should see it, those who really need to see it -- the right-wing flagwavers who wrongly consider America is #1; the tax-cutting fanatics who don't believe in the efficacy of government programs; the strong-military zealots who fail to understand the harm our giant defense budget is doing to this country -- they won't risk having their delusions challenged by seeing the movie.
Hey, even an ardent progressive like me had my eyes opened repeatedly by Moore.
Before we bought our tickets I knew that his core theme was correct: other developed countries provide a much higher quality of life for their citizens than the United States does, so we should steal their more enlightened social policies (hence, the name of the movie).
But I still came away deeply disturbed about many of the specific ways European nations kick our red, white, and blue ass. "Where to Invade Next" convincingly shows that the United States is way behind in...
-- Providing vacation time, sick days, and maternity leave to employees
-- Educating our children
-- Making it possible to attend college without running up big debts
-- Running an effective prison system
-- Dealing with drug use
-- Holding Wall Street criminals accountable
-- Feeding elementary students tasty nutritious meals
-- Guaranteeing reproductive health care to women
-- Teaching sex education in ways that work
-- Etc. Etc. Etc.
Now, Moore points out that many of the policies other nations have implemented so effectively originated in the United States. We've just fallen away from putting them into practice.
Much of the blame falls on the increasingly radical slash-and-burn social policies of the Republican Party, along with the outrageously large percentage of our taxes that feeds bloated military spending.
The movie makes clear that while Americans pay a somewhat lower percentage of our income in taxes that Europeans do, we're still screwed over economically because of the much higher personal "taxes" we pay to go to college, get health care, care for a newborn baby, and obtain other necessary services that other countries provide more efficiently and effectively through public programs.
Over and over, interviews with ordinary citizens in other countries, along with interviews with foreign business leaders and government officials, showed how uncaring the United States is.
Our national morality sucks.
Harsh words, but true. In lots of ways we really don't give a shit about other people, because the United States is so focused on individuality, watching out for our own personal interests, letting those in need do without instead of offering a helping hand.
This was evident right here in Salem not long ago when the Chamber of Commerce, Salem Hospital, and other corporate types (including some small businesses) were unwilling to support a small payroll tax that would provide weekend and evening bus service for people who need mass transit to get around.
Opponents of the payroll tax only were concerned about themselves. They had a lot of compassion for keeping their own pocketbook as fully stocked with cash as possible, but couldn't muster up empathy for people who don't own a car, can't drive, or choose not to drive.
By contrast, "Where to Invade Next" is filled with talk by people in other countries who view caring for others as a main purpose in life.
They said that they wouldn't be happy living in the United States, where GOP negativism toward government, plus our inherent ego-centered sense of individuality, leaves so many citizens in terrible situations.
Sick. Lonely. Homeless. Abused. Disrespected. Unhappy.
I could go on and on about how Moore's movie affected me. But I'll just share a few other parts of the film that hit me hard.
The way we treat prisoners, and especially prisoners of color in this country, is super shameful. So is the general approach to policing in the United States, which is way more militaristic and heavy-handed than policing practices in European countries.
The movie shows police in those countries saying the obvious: treat people with respect, even (and especially) if they have broken the law. Let prisoners vote. Do away with the death penalty. Rehabilitate, don't punish.
Lastly, it was moving to learn how extensively Germany continues to remind its citizens about the horrors of the Nazi past. Children are educated about the injustices that were done. Plaques on city streets memorialize the houses taken from Jews.
Yet the United States does its best to cover up our history: slavery, lynchings, genocide of Native Americans, stealing of land from those who inhabited our territory before Columbus arrived.
Germany faces historical injustices head-on. Too many people in the United States pretend they never happened. So in no way are we the greatest nation in the world. We've got pluses and minuses, strengths and weaknesses.
Our goal should be to learn how to do better from other countries who are surpassing us in various areas. Thank you, Michael Moore, for making a movie that does this.
Here's the trailer, along with a good Thom Hartmann discussion of the film.