by COLIN MANGAN
I recently rewatched the documentary Where to Invade Next by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. In this thought-provoking documentary, Moore travels the world, exploring the progressive political, economic, and social policies practiced by other countries and how they can be applied to American policy. I highly recommend that you watch this film for yourself.
In Italy, Moore examines workers’ rights. In Italy, businesses provide their employees with paid parental leave, paid sick leave, paid vacation, paid holidays, and benefits. Because of this, Italian workers are highly productive. As a social democrat, I strongly agree with this idea. I believe that workers should be respected for their hard work, I believe that all workers should have the right to unionize, and I believe that the economy should be led by the middle class, as it is in Italy. Conservatives claim that providing workers with benefits and living wages will require companies to lay off workers due to a lack of revenue. I strongly disagree with this point. Right now, corporations are making record-breaking profits, and while the heads of these companies walk away with large bonuses, the workers are not being recognized for their hard work.
In Slovenia, Moore examines Slovenia’s tuition/debt-free college system. Moore visits the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s oldest public university and one the largest universities in Europe, with about 63,000 students enrolled. The University of Ljubljana teaches about 100 courses in English. I believe that this is another idea that the U.S. should embrace. In this country, if you want to enter a stable carrier and earn a decent living, you have to go to college. A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau found that college graduates will make at least $20,000 more a year than people without a degree. In the highly competitive global economy, we must have the best educated work force as possible. Manual labor jobs are disappearing in favor of automation and companies such Google and Apple continue to grow. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for IT jobs will grow about 22% by 2020. However, those jobs will be worthless, unless people have the education to fill those jobs.
In Finland, Moore examines the country’s secondary education policies. Finland has abolished standardized testing and, for the most part, homework as well. As a high school student, I agree with Finland’s education policies. I don’t believe high schools should give homework because I find it to be unnecessarily stressful and an inefficient method to retain material. I also agree with Finland’s abolishment of standardized testing.
Moore also examines Norway’s prison system. In Norway, the death penalty has been abolished. I strongly agree with this, as I find the death penalty to be barbaric, draconian, and unnecessary. In my previous article, I examined the United States’ unfair prison system and how it is necessary to reform prisoners, rather than punishing them. However, I found Norway’s prison system to be too lenient. Moore first visits Bastøy Prison, a minimum security prison. This prison looked more like a summer camp than prison, as “prisoners” were able to walk around freely during the day, bike around the island, and swim. I believe in making our prison system more humane and putting an emphasis on reform rather than punishment, but I still believe that those who commit crimes must confront their actions. On the other hand, Halden Prison, a maximum security prison in Norway seemed much more appropriate. In Halden Prison, prisoners are given cells, but are also given access to education.
The most interesting part of the documentary for me was when Moore visited Tunisia. Despite being an otherwise Muslim country in Northern Africa, Tunisia is the world’s leader in women’s health. Moore also examines the role of women in the Tunisian Revolution of 2011, in which women organized massive demonstrations on an unprecedented scale. In the aftermath of the Revolution, women played a pivotal role in the drafting of the new Constitution and helped establish Tunisia as a secular state. Moore interviews conservative Muslim politician Rached Ghannouchi, who told Moore; “The state should not tell women how to dress or interfere in their lives.” This was undoubtedly the most interesting part of the documentary. I consider myself to be a left-libertarian, I strongly believe in personal freedom. I believe that people should be free to make their own decisions in their lives without being told what they can and cannot do. I strongly support abortion rights. I believe that what a woman does with her body is her choice, and her choice alone. What is so interesting to me about Tunisia is that conservatives in their country have realized that it is wrong to impose one’s personal and/or religious beliefs on other people, while conservatives, especially Christians, in this country continue to do so. A prime example of this issue is Paul Ryan, our current Speaker of the House. Paul Ryan has voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a bill signed into law by President Barack Obama, which explicitly bolstered equal pay for women. Paul Ryan sponsored a bill to redefine rape. This bill, which thankfully wasn’t passed, wouldn’t have declared that if one of the partners was asleep and/or threatened during physical activity, it could not be considered rape. This bill also declared that spousal rape could not be considered rape. Paul Ryan has referred to rape as “a method of conception”. Paul Ryan opposes abortion in all instances, unless the mother’s life is at risk. While Christians here in America continue to fight to impose their will upon everyone else, Muslims in Tunisia learned to separate their religious beliefs from public policy.
I give this film a 10/10 rating. I found it to be thought provoking and entertaining. I strongly agree with many of the points made in this film. I think it is very important for America to look to the policies being practiced by other countries and apply them to our country. What’s interesting is that at the end of the film, many of these ideas such as abolishing the death penalty and fighting for workers’ rights, originated in America. I encourage you, whether you’re progressive or conservative, to see this documentary.