The Big One That Got Away

Everyone who’s claimed that the current economic crisis couldn’t have been predicted (e.g. most recently, Dick Cheney) should be sat down with a copy of Michael Moore’s The Big One.

Filmed during a Moore book tour that spanned the 1996 presidential general election (Bill Clinton v. Bob Dole) and released in 1998, The Big One follows Moore from city to city, where he meets with a variety of front-door security officers and PR flaks at large corporations, Garrison Keillor and Studs Terkel, and workers from plants that have announced closures.

It was a period when the economy was ramping up to the Internet boom, but it was also an era of massive nationwide layoffs for workers in trade and labor industries (something that Moore had documented a decade earlier, on a smaller scale, in Roger & Me). Despite the cheery numbers on job creation from the Clinton administration, we were already living in an America where many people worked more than a single job in order to get by, and as many studies have pointed out, a lot of the jobs that were created in Clinton’s second term paid a fraction of the salaries of the jobs that were lost. Then, of course, there were the Bush(2) years.

The seeds of the current economic collapse do indeed go back that far (and farther). Maybe it was just easier to see the squeeze taking place from the bottom than it was from the top.