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HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream? 8/28

Home Forums Events Film Events HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream? 8/28

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  • #510140

    Twixlen
    Participant

    ToddAnders said:

    @Twixlen
    , good; so why give all your hard work away without someone else earning it? We all should work hard and be paid for our labors. But handouts at an unlimited basis have to stop.

    We don’t have hand outs on an unlimited basis – each state gets to set the limit on how long people are eligible for their assistance programs. I don’t disagree that there’s some real reform that can take place – particularly in the abuse of the various systems. The people that can’t find jobs don’t necessarily not want to work – they aren’t suitable for work, with their current knowledge base. There needs to be job training, and a real rehab of our education system.

    #510141

    lifeontwowheels
    Participant

    Twixlen said:
    We don’t have hand outs on an unlimited basis – each state gets to set the limit on how long people are eligible for their assistance programs. I don’t disagree that there’s some real reform that can take place – particularly in the abuse of the various systems. The people that can’t find jobs don’t necessarily not want to work – they aren’t suitable for work, with their current knowledge base. There needs to be job training, and a real rehab of our education system.

    This

    #510142
    hugh59
    hugh59
    Participant

    I watched the trailer. I also read the Powell memorandum. I look at our country and I do not see much sign that the program suggested by Powell has been enacted or, if it was, has been terribly effective.

    UPDATE:

    But, looking at this review, maybe this film has more to offer than just a condemnation of Reagan, Bush, and the GOP:

    Other documentaries have covered this ground before; Heist distinguishes itself by puncturing the appealing liberal myth of the Democrats as rebel soldiers hopelessly trying to win America back from the dark side—a fairy tale that inspired some of the late comedian George Carlin’s most brilliant, scathing routines. Reagan and Dubya are obvious scapegoats for the current economical climate, but Clinton and Obama are revealed to be nearly as accommodating, enabling corporate control while publicly speaking to rights of the common worker.

    SLANT Magazine Review -HEIST

    #510143
    hugh59
    hugh59
    Participant

    Okay, here is another review.

    Pittsburgh Urban Media – Review[/url]

    That carefully-orchestrated fleecing of the country is the subject of Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?, an eye-opening documentary co-directed by Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher. The film features the sage insights of some of the nation’s most outspoken consumer advocates, such as Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, former Obama Administration Green Czar Van Jones, Journalist David Cay Johnson and Congresswoman Donna Edwards.

    And I see a problem. One of the people they list as a source of insight is (in my probably biased opinion) a hack. This person co-wrote a book that passed itself off as an academic study of a problem when it was just a simplistic political tract.

    I am a conservative tax lawyer who is believes that there is a limit to how high you can raise tax rates. I could probably get some fame, fortune, and a lot of praise if I were to write a book arguing that increasing taxes would stop global warming and halt the spread of AIDS. That is essentially what this person did. In other words, this person is part of the problem, is entrenched in the system that created the problem, and is profiting from the mess we are in.

    #510144

    ToddAnders
    Blocked

    @bjx, no, I’m not “trolling”. I am stating my opinion on how our system is broken, and I’m certain, I’m not the only person feeling this way. I’m glad you wish to bring your personal resources to help fix it. Just set up the account and we at CU will help you direct the funds.

    @Twixlen
    , we do, and it is not the fix. We have a bad culture of entitlements, and it needs to stop.
    @Life, ok.

    Listen, I’m not a cold hearted bitch. But, our US system is broken and needs fixed, with current generations, before we are unable to fix it. And saying, just give us/them a few more months, is not a fix, it’s kicking the can. And from our current Congress, you can see where that got us.

    #510145

    JonMyers
    Participant

    I agree with Todd, it’s true, there are some themes in American culture, which need to be stopped.

    While, generational reliance on public assistance is a problem, I’m more concerned about a bigger picture more destructive theme. It’s a theme hurting our competitiveness, and stifling innovation and economic progress.

    Ironically, the title of this film dovetails nicely into that theme and the point I’m trying to make.

    It’s the idea that someone, some people or something has conspired to steal something you feel is owed to you.

    Entitlement.

    Stealing the American Dream.

    The title of this film says entitlement to me, and implies that we’re all victims.

    The way it’s framed intentionally forces out any concept of personal responsibility. It’s by design. It’s why for example, no one will take up the point and provide counter-point to alternate conflicting narratives such as the immigrant entrepreneurial experiences, which Todd points out.

    The immigrant entrepreneurial experience in America, the American Dream, conflicts with the idea that something was stolen from us, and now we’re all just a bunch of helpless victims.

    The way this particular narrative – Someone Stole the American Dream is framed it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the possibility that the problem is all of us. That maybe a big reason the American Dream is fading is because not enough of a majority of people are taking action on the privilege of being born an American.

    Yes, it is a privilege to be an American.

    This theme that something that didn’t really exist in the first place was stolen from you, ultimately just renders excuses and inaction. It’s a theme that bums me out, pisses me off, and leaves me scratching my head.

    Thank god I know enough Americans who still give me hope.

    I’ve been living in HCMC, Vietnam for a little while now. I’ve spent a lot of time teaching, and getting to know the locals here. A big contrast between the US and here, relevant to the direction this thread has headed is this – people don’t rely on government for anything because they can’t. There are no safety-nets here.

    There are times when I wonder if a government even exists here.

    The results of this are interesting. I’ve met dozens and dozens of young local people here in the city, and the cultural theme I keep running into here is – hustle.

    I’ve been shocked by the amount of twenty-somethings I’ve met who are working 1-2 jobs, have a side business, and are in school full-time. These aren’t affluent kids. I’m not kidding.

    It wouldn’t even cross their mind that the government would do something for them. The result I’m seeing is that people are more entrepreneurial, and more self-reliant.

    Of course, you find this attitude, and hustle in the states. It just feels rarer as a cultural theme.

    This brings me to my point of why I brought this up.

    The faster we get to a point where we’re honest with ourselves that government won’t do anything for us, that nothing was “stolen from us”, that we’re not victims, the faster we’ll pull ourselves out of this mess.

    We’re not just in a race, we’re in an all out hell-bent sprint.

    ToddAnders said:In this country, you have minorities who are currently “leapfrogging” over other minorities. They do this by taking advantage of the programs that help people overcome challenges and start their own businesses. The great populations of Somalians in Columbus come to mind with this. Then, on the other side of the coin, you have generations of people that know no more than to live off government programs. And guess what? They teach their kids to do the same. This is wrong and should not be sugar coated. It’s not an item of a few bad apples; it is a cultural theme and generational theme that needs to be stopped.

    #510146

    adam
    Member

    Anyone with a firm belief in the “bootstraps” ideology ought to read the book, Savage Inequalities by Jonothan Kozol. It’s an objective look at several public school systems across the country. The author just spends a couple days at each school and writes down what the kids face every day.

    The wealthier towns have primo bussing, 3 computers in every classroom, gym equipment that sparkles with safety, music courses, etc. And the poorer school districts — the ones with the low, low property taxes and subsequent low, low government funding — are dealing with some major shit. 45 kids to a classroom, but only ten books that have to be passed around and shared. Holes in the ceiling that leak when it rains. Grade D food in the cafeterias. You get the picture.

    But then think about how those kids start to develop their sense of self-worth. The lower class kids are basically being told from a very young age, the system doesn’t give a goddamn about you. You’re not worth the trouble. When that gets into your head — unless you’re one outstanding exception to the rule — it’s pretty tough to become a success. It’s pretty tough to swim with that kind of lead shackled to your ankles.

    #510147

    adam
    Member

    adam said:
    Anyone with a firm belief in the “bootstraps” ideology ought to read the book, Savage Inequalities by Jonothan Kozol. It’s an objective look at several public school systems across the country. The author just spends a couple days at each school and writes down what the kids face every day.

    The wealthier towns have primo bussing, 3 computers in every classroom, gym equipment that sparkles with safety, music courses, etc. And the poorer school districts — the ones with the low, low property taxes and subsequent low, low government funding — are dealing with some major shit. 45 kids to a classroom, but only ten books that have to be passed around and shared. Holes in the ceiling that leak when it rains. Grade D food in the cafeterias. You get the picture.

    But then think about how those kids start to develop their sense of self-worth. The lower class kids are basically being told from a very young age, the system doesn’t give a goddamn about you. You’re not worth the trouble. When that gets into your head — unless you’re one outstanding exception to the rule — it’s pretty tough to become a success. It’s pretty tough to swim with that kind of lead shackled to your ankles.

    here’s the book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savage_Inequalities

    #510148

    bjx
    Participant

    You’ve made a lot of over-reaching arguments along with pious wordplay. I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve familiar with the story. The thing about wealth is not that it is a bad thing as it is pursued and pedestel-ed here as a root-ethic. The problem the filmmakers/me have is that concentrated wealth gives a tremendous amount of leverage to a few. For example, do you know that FACEBOOK buys and then shuts-down apps? It would seem that those who achieve the American Dream are crushing the dreamers. This isn’t a matter of competitive cream not rising to the top but rather what efficiencies the general public may be denied.

    Well, lets start with the title, “HEIST” is most likely just a catchy title to get people to watch. No different than any other Hollywood-ed title. Is it intentionally inflammatory, sure, but its supposed to be. Will some viewers feel like they are being hoodwinked, sure, but the for the vast majority it is just a mental nudge that wealth isn’t ALWAYS being distributed in such a manner that best serves the public, nothing more.

    Regarding entitlements, most people across the political spectrum don’t like any one person taking advantage of the group. This is a primal slight felt by all. I can’t imagine any other person who posted is encouraging or welcoming of those on the dole. Other than Medicaid/Medicare which is a huge financial burden ripe for serious reform, welfare entitlements represent a very small percentage of GDP.

    I didn’t read into anyone’s post that they hate working or hustling and wish to abandon personal responsiblity OR wish that for others. If you are implying that people leave HEIST gritting their teeth wishing to tell off their boss, then I think you are wrong. I would bet that most leave glad to have a job (Gee, it is hard to speculate about the movie without having seen it, but they’re all sorta the same movie, aren’t they?)

    Most Americans realize the great and distinct advantages they have over other countries. Using the terms “American” and “privilege” are just a cheap way to get votes AND distract from the financial issues alluded to by the film (presumably). In fact, I will say that many Americans are too proud of the privilege in that years after the War has shown to be engaged under false-pretenses and diplomatically ineffective and , many are still enlisting as BOO-YAH! as ever (why ironically may be because of the military spending’s effect on the economy).

    Comparing the working youth of two different cultures isn’t fair either with U.S. vs. Vietnam. I don’t really know where to start or end with this (because it is a thread in of itself) but the cultural DNA and infrastructure probably are too incompatible to compare. I mean Eskimos have to whalehunt to eat, I guess you could call them go-getters as well.

    Your biggest overreach is declaring that people dissatisfied with the financial status quo feel themselves to be victims and that something was “stolen from them”. Dissent is not necessarily dissatisfaction, although this is often how it is framed. I didn’t get that vibe from other posts and I would doubt the filmmakers of HEIST promote that philosophy. The movie is probably just an extension of Michael Moore’s movies, a bloated blowhard who is often right in hindsight.

    Sink or Swim, this “by the bootstraps” mantra is the Tea-Party-line against us bleeding heart liberals. If anything, posters seemed to fight for the rights of others and unequal leverage money provides but is not often acknowledged by those who have it. Remember that nothing makes money faster than money. Also, it is human nature to attribute your own successes to hard work and others failures to laziness not luck. A good movie about luck is “Matchpoint” by Woody Allen if you need a refresher.

    “There are times when I wonder if a government even exists here.” That is the end result and reason the Somalians are in Columbus in the first place. LOFL.

    #510149

    JonMyers
    Participant

    Hey Adam, it has been a long time. Hope you’re well.

    The book seems interesting, but might be dated.

    Given that the book was published in 1991 and enough time has passed, I’d be interested in seeing if there were efforts, and public money spent to address these inequalities, and thus the results.

    If I were to bet on this, I’d guess that there were more efforts, and more public money spent, and the results didn’t meet expectations.

    I don’t doubt that massive inequalities, and difficult to overcome personal circumstances exist. I had em, and they exist for the majority of us in their own way.

    The point isn’t whether or not these circumstances exist. They do, and they always will always exist in some form as the planet accumulates more wealth, and highlights of contrast are provided.

    The point is – what do you do about it.

    What should those who have experienced inequality, a loss of confidence, and psychologically debilitating circumstances do? Resign, wait on the government to help them or do something for themselves.

    If you want to rise above circumstances of inequality is there anything else besides bootstrapping?

    The wave of immigrants wanting the American Dream, forced into entrepreneurship, and starting things without asking questions, don’t seem to think there is anything besides bootstrapping.

    #510150

    JonMyers
    Participant

    My point is that this same resiliency, the DNA used to be much more prominent in American culture.

    Self-Made American used to be our brand. Our cultural theme that dominated the national conversation.

    Our theme now is dependence and fear.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s fair or an apples to apples comparison. Who cares. The point is they’re coming for you, they’re coming for me, they’re coming for your jobs. They’ve already arrived to take them. Sadly, I’ve witnessed firms here, which have stripped away hundreds of US jobs, and it’s not just about low cost labor.

    This is happening the world over. That’s simply reality, and all the protectionist bullshit or government programs in the world aren’t gonna stop it. I see no other choice than to rely on yourself first and foremost.

    Regarding entrepreneurial Somalian immigrants.

    How engaged with government do you think they are?

    I’d bet little to no engagement.

    I’d be willing to bet that a part of entrepreneurial immigrant success is due in part to the fact that so many operate outside the specter of government all together.

    bjx said:

    Comparing the working youth of two different cultures isn’t fair either with U.S. vs. Vietnam. I don’t really know where to start or end with this (because it is a thread in of itself) but the cultural DNA and infrastructure probably are too incompatible to compare. I mean Eskimos have to whalehunt to eat, I guess you could call them go-getters as well.

    “There are times when I wonder if a government even exists here.” That is the end result and reason the Somalians are in Columbus in the first place. LOFL.

    #510151

    adam
    Member

    Yeah, for those whom the system has shunned, or underserved, their only option is to figure it out for themselves, gaming it along the way if need be.

    But I think my point was: level the playing field more so that the sense of victimization you were talking about doesn’t begin during the formative years. Make sure everyone gets a fair shake from the get go. Which, to me, was the real American promise.

    Hope you’re having fun on the other side of the world. (WTF.?!)

    #510152

    adam
    Member

    also, this dude is dead on.

    jackoh said:
    Snarf is right. “Sink or swim” is, and should be, the basic dynamic of any society. And advantages and disadvantages are influential but not, ultimately, determinative. But “sink or swim”cuts both ways. Those who have made it owe nothing to those who haven’t. And those who haven’t made it owe nothing to those who have, in either respecting what they have or in restraining from taking it. When it comes to “sink or swim,” everyone will try to stay afloat in any way that they can; and if you buy the idea of “sink or swim” you can’t condemn them for it.

    that shit = lawlessness.

    if you don’t provide basic opportunities and reasonable quality of life to most strata within a society, you’re asking for dissent, and then revolt.

    the government’s only job is to protect its people. and making sure they don’t kill each other is part of that.

    #510153

    JonMyers
    Participant

    Got it. I don’t disagree with the leveling of the playing field.

    Especially when it comes to the disgraceful nature of the American educational system.

    Though, I question how level the playing field has ever really been, and wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any leveling to happen.

    It’s always eye-opening being away. I’ll have been gone for about 11 months. Re-entry will be weird for sure.

    I’ll be in CMH around early October for 2 or 3 months for some work stuff, then back out on the road again.

    Look forward to catching up with you, and a lot of other fine peeps here on this board. :)

    adam said:
    Yeah, for those whom the system has shunned, or underserved, their only option is to figure it out for themselves, gaming it along the way if need be.

    But I think my point was: level the playing field more so that the sense of victimization you were talking about doesn’t begin during the formative years. Make sure everyone gets a fair shake from the get go. Which, to me, was the real American promise.

    Hope you’re having fun on the other side of the world. (WTF.?!)

    #510154

    gramarye
    Participant

    I agree with almost everything JonMyers has said since he joined the thread, so a big thanks for saving me the time.

    Unfortunately, we’ve been making it harder, not easier, for immigrants (and native-born Americans) to actually start businesses when they get an idea and want to make a shot at it. Licensing laws and levels of regulatory review for every step in the process of business formation and operation have grown, not shrunk, often at both the state and federal levels. Ohio’s commercial activities tax may be simpler than a tax on corporate profits (which can be a more complicated figure to calculate because of all the moving parts), but it also starts hitting people the moment they start a business, and many businesses operate at a loss in the early going. Private-sector innovations like Kickstarter have been steps in the right direction but often insufficient to make up for the increasing governmental burdens on entrepreneurs. If anything has stolen the American dream, it’s been bureaucrats, not bankers. (And, as JonMyers pointed out above, “stolen” is an odd word to apply to something that was prevented from coming into existence in the first place.)

    As for the general thrust of the comments on the last five pages of the thread about entitlements and empathy: It’s true, I don’t know what it really means to be poor, though my parents acquired their first home for $25,000. At least they were both still married and actually college educated. And we had access to a lot of social capital in our early years because we still lived in the Philadelphia area, where a lot of my extended family on my dad’s side lived, and social capital can make up for a certain amount of lack of financial capital.

    However, the critique of the welfare state does not rest on understanding what it is to be poor. After all, I still don’t understand from firsthand experience what it’s like to be rich, either. And most of the politicians in Washington buying votes from welfare recipients with my tax dollars have never known poverty, either. Rather, the critique operates at a higher level than that: the taxes and borrowing necessary to fund an excessively generous entitlement state impede the formation of financial capital, and the direct dependency on the state encouraged by entitlements impedes the formation of social capital. I am not blind to the fact that luck at birth influences our entire lives; we just don’t support spending a fifth of the entire national economy trying to deal with it (particularly when that government intervention often makes things worse for the entire community even as it makes things better for those who get the biggest slice of the take). It has not just eroded the ethic of personal responsibility at the level of those dependent on the state; it has eroded the ethic of fiscal responsibility among the leadership of the state as well. The budget will never be balanced with an entitlement state the size of our current one. Note that I support higher taxes, to the point where I’m honestly hoping that “fiscal cliff” that there’s so much hand-wringing about actually occurs. Yet even that combination of tax-cut expiration and spending sequestration wouldn’t even come close to balancing the budget. Thus, we’re looking at deficits as far as the eye can see that would have been considered staggering just a decade ago; we’ve become inured to it in a few short years. I consider that a significantly more pernicious development for the country than wealth or income inequality or any egalitarian principles undergirding our staggeringly expensive entitlements aimed at equalizing the results of luck at birth. I don’t celebrate such disparities, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to stretch and abrade the social and economic fabric of the Republic in order to offer expensive and at best incomplete (and at worst counterproductive) solutions for those disparities.

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