Today in class we spent some time discussing whether capitalism or feudalism existed in Flint, Michigan. We seemed to agree that when everything was going well it appeared capitalistic, but when things were going poorly for the workers it was unclear whether feudalism or capitalism existed. Although it is clear that there were not enough jobs for all those that were now unemployed due to the closing of GM plants, there was some conversation about other job options in the film. They were generally not very desirable forms of employment and there were a limited number of jobs because when GM left people did not have much money to spend and they’re for demand for products decreased. Michael Moore documented that some of the workers worked at Taco Bell. The job did not pay much and the workers had trouble doing the work as many of them had been trained while working for GM to only do one thing on the assembly line. However, a few members of the town worked for Taco Bell, and probably other businesses like it, while they remained in operation.
Michael Moore also spoke a little bit about the people that used to be unemployed due to the GM plants closing that became lint rollers. Again, they probably were being paid a lower wage, and there were not enough positions as lint rollers for everyone in Flint, but some people found work in that industry. At the end he says, “The rich were richer, the poor, poorer and people everywhere had less lint, thanks to the lint rollers in my town. It truly was a dawn of a new era.”
Conditions deteriorated in Flint for the “working class” when GM left, as the company had a lot of economic control in the town. While GM had economic control they did not have feudal control. The workers were not forced to work for the company; there wasn’t a bondage contract between the two parties. After GM left Flint, work was scarce, wages generally low, and overall conditions were poor for the “working class”, it doesn’t automatically mean that feudalism existed. Poor conditions exist frequently in Capitalism as well.
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