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Michael Moore's Roger & Me Essay

1372 words - 5 pages

Michael Moore's Roger & Me

Roger & Me is a documentary film chronicling the workings of one of the world’s largest corporations, General Motors, as it nearly turns its hometown of Flint, Michigan, into a ghost town. In his quest to discover why GM's management and board of directors would do such a thing, filmmaker Michael Moore, a Flint native, attempts to meet the chairman, Roger Smith, and invite him out for a few beers up in Flint to "talk things over." Moore is the son of a Flint autoworker and a whole family of autoworkers. Roger & Me examines how Moore's hometown of Flint is affected when General Motors closes down a series of factories in order to set up production in Mexico. The town is devastated, economically and spiritually, because GM was practically the only game in town - the city was built around GM.

Since 1983, car sales had steadily risen and GM has posted record profits of nearly $19 billion. So why lay off all of these people? Moore points out that he and his friends were raised on the American Dream which promised that if you worked hard and the company you worked for prospered, you would prosper, too. Now, it seems GM's board of directors has changed the rules: you work hard, the company prospers- and you lose your job. Roger & Me shows that capitalism is not always consistent with this American Dream.

Roger & Me shows that GM's board of directors used company profits not to create new jobs, but to buy already existing assets, such as data processing companies (EDS) and weapons manufacturers (Hughes Aircraft) at inflated prices, and to automate their current assembly lines, and build new plants in Mexico and in Asia -- destroying jobs in the United States in the process. In Mexico, GM pays the worker only $.70 an hour, as opposed to at least minimum wage in the United States of America. In addition, GM's board has used profits generated by the efforts of auto workers to buy a controlling interest in Isuzu, enter into a joint operating agreement with Toyota, and to become the second largest mortgage holder in the United States. Flint, Michigan, it seems, is no longer part of the GM plan. To GM's board, Flint is not very important anymore, it does not need Flint at this point. The board believes it is in GM’s best interest to get the lower priced workers from Mexico, therefore hurting Flint.

This is an example of the conflicts between what workers want and what their employers want. The textbook says, "It is inherent in the process of profit making and places workers and their employers in opposing positions." (pg. 182) The company just wants to make money and to build there new factories and invest in these new endeavors, is good for the company. GM is making more money. Where the workers obviously want to keep their jobs and not have GM move plants to Mexico.

That is one of my inherent problems with capitalism. Capitalism is not for the benefit of all humans, it is for the benefit of the directors,...

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