Inequality For All

Year: 2013
Production Co: 72 Productions
Director: Jacob Kornbluth
Cast: Robert Reich

This documentary is partly about the widening wealth gap in America and partly about former Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he reminisces about his career trying to raise awareness of the issue.

At the time I watched it I was actually making my way through Oliver Stone's True History of the United States as well, and the themes and revelations from each have ended up a bit intertwined in my mind – the advent and growth of the military/industrial complex in America casts a long shadow over plenty of social issues in contemporary times, and wealth disparity is just one of them.

Reich doesn't seem at all suited to public office – smart and self-effacing, he talks like a TV presenter, has a sense of humour and genuine love of people you rarely see in politics. As he explains the way American society has evolved, you feel a thrilling frisson of discovery, exactly the kind of love of learning university professors wish they could bestow.

Most of the film charts the history of the labour movement and economy that led to the modern era, and then comes the educational kicker – Reich's three pivots in the 70s and 80s that fooled us into thinking things were getting better economically but which were only putting off the inevitable. The balance was tipped and the gap is so wide today as to be obscene.

The movie talks as plainly as Reich does and leaves you with two welcome effects; the belief that you've disentangled history and seen a truth usually hidden under obfuscating levels of complexity and agendas, and the desire that you should – and could – do something about it.

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