Last night we watched Where to Invade Next, a film by Michael Moore. While many people disregard Moore as a provocative liberal, he identifies a number of policies and programs that other countries have implemented that seem very enviable and ideal.
Moore travels to nine largely European countries under the ruse of an invader attempting to steal their ideas and bring them back to America. In each segment, he plants an American flag as a symbol of victory. What’s particularly interesting is that each of the ideas is rooted in our own American ideals.
In the movie, Moore interviews both government leaders and the beneficiaries of the policies and programs that are highlighted, including:
- Liberal vacation and PTO policies in Italy that company owners say is good for employees and their business.
- Incredible school meals in France, plus effective use of sex education
- Virtually no homework and elimination of standardized testing in Finland, which has become a world leader in student achievement since reforming its education system
- Tuition-free higher education in Slovenia (and dozens of other countries), eliminating the burdensome debt that our college grads take on as they start their careers
- An enviable work–life balance in Germany, along with an honest, frank national history education acknowledging the atrocities of Nazi Germany
- The decriminalization of drugs In Portugal, and the resulting decrease in drug use
- A humane prison system in Norway that assists convicts in assimilating back into the community, with a 20% recidivism rate vs. 80% in the U.S.
- Women’s rights in Tunisia, including reproductive health and the removal of religious restrictions in government policies and law. This was a remarkable revolution which resulted in the establishment of democracy, and the voluntary stepping down of the majority of men in their Congress
- The criminal investigation and prosecution of bankers in Iceland after the 2008–11 financial crisis
We imagine that these kind of “socialist” programs raise taxes exponentially, but Moore shows an example where, while the taxes are higher, the resulting costs are much lower than the combined taxes and out-of-pocket expenses that American families bear.
The movie also points out another very interesting observation. After the civil rights advances in our country, we embarked on an all-out War on Drugs, which subsequently incarcerated a huge number of black men, who could then no longer vote. These prisoners were then used as laborers for a variety of commercial manufacturers, essentially bringing back a legal alternative to slavery. Frankly, I’m surprised that the brilliance of this atrocity never occurred to me before.
I would welcome a thoughtful, non-politicized movie review and discussion. For conservatives, I can only wonder if you can stomach Moore’s participation in the movie, and listen to the story rather than judge the content based on the presenter. My bottom line is that these policies and programs seem to have an inarguable benefit to society, and it’s well worth the watch to invite some self-reflection.