This is the second Tauranga showing of this film; back by popular request apparently. The lecture theatre in the Bongard Centre is almost full. The film’s title says it all.
In his introduction local Peter Malcolm suggests that New Zealand parallels the patterns and history disclosed by the film; the damage inequality causes and the socio-political danger it presents. Both Malcolm and the film make it clear that some inequality is both good and necessary to reward effort etc. And it’s the pillow maker (of immense wealth) in the film who in simple terms explains why he, his business and society need more equitable income and wealth distribution.
What the film is talking about is the significant accumulation of wealth, assets and socio-political power in the hands of fewer and fewer members of the community and the decreasing value of wages or actual wages concomitant with the disappearance and minimisation of unions and increased hours of work.
There were some graphs and charts, telling me what – that while the worst circumstance of income and wealth disparity is in the United States itself, Portugal and the UK are on also on that side of the graph as is New Zealand and surprisingly with Australia not that far behind us.
It was an easily watchable often humourous film with the miniature, mini-driving Reichs a deceptively simply speaking host and advocate disguising his intellect, qualifications and United States government roles. There were brief moments of historic and contemporary public violence.
Was this film universally accepted by all those in the audience – I don’t think so – there were some walk outs and at the end someone seemingly well-known to Chair, Peter Malcolm challenged him and us to look at contradictory evidence.
I walked to my car with someone I’d never met. He asked what I took from that film. What I think was the fundamental message that Reichs was putting forward. Concentration of great wealth in the hands of the few threatens the continuation of democracy.
Later as I was cruising Google to find out a bit more about the small and perfectly formed Reichs I read a recent entry by someone decrying Reichs’ comments because he has a $200,000.00 plus academic salary. Laugh out loud!