I rented from Netflix the documentary Roger & Me by Michael Moore. This is the first film by Michael Moore which made his name. Whether or not you agree with Michael Moore’s liberal point of view, the film offered a good reminder of what a recession feels like.
In case you haven’t seen it (the film was out nearly 20 years ago in 1989), it’s about the impact of General Motors’ closing of several auto assembly plants in Flint, Michigan. Michael Moore, a native of Flint, wanted to bring then GM chairman Roger Smith to Flint and show him the devastation of 30,000 laid off GM workers. The film showed how his repeated efforts failed to get Smith to come to Flint and how the workers and the town coped with the event.
Oh boy it’s depressing. Workers got laid off. They got evicted from their apartments when they couldn’t pay their rent. They took up other odd jobs. Even fast food restaurants wouldn’t hire former GM workers because they were not good enough at working in fast food. The wife of a laid off worker became an Amway saleswoman doing “color reading” for her customers. She later confessed in great horror that she had read herself into the wrong color! The scene of a former worker raising rabbits for a living and killing and skinning one on camera for meat and fur is absolutely shocking. I cringed and closed my eyes. Don’t let your kids watch that scene.
The film stuck me on a nerve because I worked in an auto plant before. The workers in the film looked very familiar to me. The so-called blue collar workers are hardworking. They care a lot about their families. Sadly, the site I worked in also closed a few years after I left. I wonder what happened to the workers.
The film reminded me of what a recession feels like. People lose their jobs and they can’t find a new one. Are we in a recession now? I don’t think so.
Rating: ***** (Excellent)
Have you been in a recession? What did it feel like to you? Do you think we are in a recession now based on your past experience?