Inequality for All
Directed by Jacob Kornbluth. (2013, PG, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013
Robert Reich, noted author and former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, headlines this documentary in which he explains his views about the United States' current economic woes. It’s something he manages to do engagingly and with great clarity. Using his platform as a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, the film uses his classroom lectures as a jumping-off point for conveying his ideas about the acute economic disparities of our times. Comfortable on the stage in front of students and armed with terrific graphics, Reich illustrates why he regards the situation as alarming and why the disparities in this country are worse than almost anywhere else in the world. The film also follows Reich into the field where he talks with workers of various stripes to provide the practical realities of what he otherwise conveys in charts and historical evidence.
Reich is a strong supporter of the middle class, which he believes must thrive in order for business to really flourish. He explains why the concept of a free market is an illusion, since the market is always governed by regulations. It comes as no surprise to him that as deregulation grabbed hold in the Eighties, upward mobility among the middle class started to stagnate. Globalization and technology also play roles in this stagnation. Most interestingly, Reich demonstrates that economic inequality and political polarization follow nearly identical trajectories, thus it makes sense to him that groups like the Tea Party and the Occupy movement are thriving at this point in time. Inequality for All creates a framework in which all this heavy material is easily digestible, and refashions Reich, the policy wonk, into an inspirational figure who argues that “history is on the side of positive social change.”