When small is mighty BIG!

IFA poster 10-18-2013Robert Reich is short, four feet, eleven inches to be precise. I mention his height because the former labor secretary and current professor at the University of California Berkeley makes it an integral part of the presentation in his thought provoking new documentary, Inequality for All, currently showing at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

When Reich speaks about the ever-widening income gap in America between the uber-rich and the rest of us, he towers over his subject matter and rivets the attention of his audience.

Yes, the film is filled with powerful data. A few examples:

  • The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
  • In 1970, the top 1% of earners took home 9% of the nation’s total income. Today, they take in approximately 23%.
  • In 1978, the typical male American worker earned $48,302 while a male in the top 1% earned $393,682. In 2010, the typical American male earned $33,731 while a male in the top 1% earned $1,101,089.
  • Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.

But the heart of the film is the people who tell Reich what income inequality means to them and their families, ranging from a wealthy CEO who disdains the “job creator” myth to working men and women struggling from day to day, often one paycheck, one illness, one emergency away from catastrophe.

I was in the audience on Tuesday when MECEP hosted a panel discussion following a screening. When the film ended and the applause died down, the audience took charge. The questions and comments clearly demonstrated that Reich had struck a nerve with virtually every person in the theater.

As John DeFore writes in his Washington Post review:

“Jacob Kornbluth’s ‘Inequality for All’ listens intently as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich recounts the history of America’s rich/poor divide and argues that the status quo is destroying our nation . . . Judging from the pit left in a viewer’s stomach, it does the job pretty well.”

MECEP has already scheduled two additional showings followed with discussion by a panel and the audience. On Tuesday, October 29, we will be at Reel Pizza Cinerama in Bar Harbor for a 5:30 p.m. screening, click here for details and to purchase tickets in advance. On Thursday, November 7, we will be at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta for a special 3:00 p.m. program, click here for details.

We are also working with theaters and organizations across the state to schedule more screenings and discussions as we roll out our forthcoming State of Working Maine 2013. This new report addresses many of the issues Professor Reich discusses from a distinctly Maine perspective. Watch our website, Facebook page, and Twitter posts for future showings at a theater near you. Find out for yourself why small can be mighty big!