With the federal government shutdown and with democracy on life support (or at least a bad case of shingles), is America ready to hear about wage inequality and how the cause of the economic crisis be found in the past, along with a possible solution?
Robert Reich thinks so. The former Secretary of Labor is narrator and subject of "Inequality for All," documentary about wage inequality. On a topic that could easily get buried in flow charts, graphs and more numbers than the latest Candy Crush download, director Jacob Kornbluth goes past the rhetoric by giving us a history lesson with perhaps the teacher you always wish you had.
That teacher, is Reich himself, who teaches a "Wealth and Poverty" class at U.C Berkeley. Through the class and his speaking engagements, Reich goes into detail about why Americans are working harder for the same if not less wages. What makes the journey through the nation's economy entertaining is Reich and Kornbluth's use of history to serve as a foundation against the talking heads on both sides of the debate.
Between crushing the myth that trickle down economics actually works, he gives us a look into his own origins and points that shaped his life and his quest to not only educate, but to inspire others to fight for economic equality. Over the 90 minutes, you realize that wage inequality is not about him, but that standing up for others is at the heart of what he stands for. Reich touches on how his diminutive stature (he's 4'10 due to a genetic condition) made him the fighter that he is, first looking for protection from bullies at an early age to standing up for the little guy that is dubbed the 1%.
Beyond the human examples shown of the wage chasm that exists between Americans and his lamenting of the middle class becoming an endangered species, through interviews with everyone from union workers (which were instrumental in the focus on the middle class) to multimillionaire Nick Hanauer who admits his own conversion to realizing that rewarding the rich only compounds the problem. Hanauer flies in the face of conservative lawmakers claiming that his middle class customers are the true job creators. "Inequality for All" calls to task people of both parties to solve the greatest wage inequality since the Great Depression. If Schoolhouse Rock was the primer we learned how the world of finance and politics work, then "Inequality for All," is the graduate course that kids and adults should be required to take.