Inequality for All is an eye-opening peek behind the curtain of economic disparities. This documentary should be played for school children as early as eight grade. The film’s narrator, Robert Reich explained that income inequality between the wealthy and middle class results in a decrease in the potential for upward mobility (for middle class). The creation of this film was not only necessary, but it was very engaging and educational. Despite these attributes, there was one surprise and one problem within the content.
It was surprising to find that Denmark and Great Britain (37:25) offers better odds of coming out of poverty for their youth than the United States. When I saw that segment, my first thought was to ask why the United States could not copy those European formulas to improve our situation here. As if Reich heard my question, he stated that the U.S. “should emulate” its past performance. First, Reich said the largest middle class was created during the 1950’s to 1970’s. He attributed this to a huge focus on education. Next, there was a growing number of educated people in the workforce. There was an increase in labor unions and participants. Finally, this led to greater middle class spending. Reich revealed a windfall of positive feed-back that he summarized as the “Virtuous Cycle” (39:25) and later explained the contrasting “Vicious Cycle” (59:04) Reconstructing the virtuous cycle sounds like a great plan to introduce. In addition to “putting people first” (42:08), Reich also explained how the rise in corporate greed effected the wages of workers. Unfortunately, these rich executives who hurt workers were not held accountable.
In summary, Reich covered the explanation for growing inequality on both ends. He explained historical, economic triumphs compared to modern-day realities. He explained corporate greed without having to use the word “greed”. He explained working-class coping mechanisms such as women flooding the workforce. (56:12) However, there was a problem. What about the poor class? If middle class wages are declining, then isn’t the poor class suffering even more? We need a Part II of this film to address the poor in the U.S. Sadly, it seems as if Reich will never get through to the wealthy lobbyists, politicians and fat-cats. For this reason, he decided to reach the youth by working as a professor. I love how he placed the baton in the hands of his students in the end. It is easy to feel defeated while watching this film. However, his lecture in the end (1:24:20) was tear-jerking. It was thought provoking and inspiring. Lastly, I love that he didn’t just tell his students to go out and vote. In fact, he revealed how political officials are purchased by billionaires! Robert Reich is a mighty force for change. Everyone who is not in the top 1% in the economic food chain, truly needs to inhale his wisdom and take massive action.
- Kornbluth, J., Chaiken, J., Dungan, S., Reich, R. B., Cvetko, S., Krauss, D., D’Ambrosio, M., … Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc.,. (2014). Inequality for all.