Heist – Who Stole the American Dream? – Movie Review

In the civilized nation of America, the 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million people.  Heist is a groundbreaking feature documentary by Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher, about the roots of the American economic crisis.  The movie is dedicated to the Occupy Wall Street movement and to the 99%.  There are more staggering statistics in the film.  During the recent economic crisis, over 10 million people lost their homes, about 47 million people slid into poverty and the film explores the continuing assault on the working and middle class people in the US, where social security and medicare cuts are looming on the horizon.

Heist goes beyond the crisis itself to explore the policies and decades of deregulation that led up to this crisis.  The oft-repeated mantra during the Regan era came to be “Government is the problem” and the policies enacted were aimed at rolling back the Government and introducing tax policies favoring mega corporations and the outrageously wealthy elites.  The film explores the historical background beginning with FDR’s handling of the economic crisis.  During the 1930s economic depression, President Roosevelt’s swift and bold action involved deep Government intervention, from which emerged a centralized, planned economy.  During the last four decades, FDR’s New Deal was largely dismantled, under the guidance of the infamous Powell Memo and the right wing Heritage Foundation’s Mandate for Leadership on government reform.  Both Republicans and Democrats, courted by the lobbyists, showed allegiance to big businesses and played a hand in drafting policies to minimize the role of the government.

The film makes a case that the US government is not the enemy of the people.  Government can be incompetent and wasteful but rarely does it systematically and in a planned way work against the common people.  Heist offers several “Take Action” suggestions, starting with a persuasive case for swift reinstatement of watchdog laws to prevent financial institutions and big businesses from taking further advantage of common people.  Heist makes a case for saving social security and medicare.  People in the bottom 50% depend on social security for 80% of their income.  Heist also makes a very strong case for supporting local lending institutions, and supporting all local businesses.  Several experts make a strong case that localized landing and decision making is the cornerstone of sustainable, green economy which in turn is a foundation for the long term health of a community.

Several screenings are being held across various communities and many are followed by panels of experts, dialog with the attendees, and Q&A sessions, with activists holding tables outside to collect signatures for various causes and distribute information about various campaigns.  While the merit and accuracy of the movie can be debated since statistics can be looked at from various perspectives and story behind the numbers can be understood from multiple angles, the movie is stirring up dialog.  The movie is keeping alive the OWS movement and getting communities involved in understanding the causes of the economic crisis, caring about the politics behind the numbers, and discussing the importance of checking the extreme greed which can lead to complete collapse and instead, focusing on sharing resources to sustain the long term health of the whole community.  For more information on movie screenings, go to www.heist-themovie.com .  For questions, send inquiry to infoheistmovie@gmail.com .


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