Robert Reich talks about the widening economic gap between the wealthy and everyone else in 'Inequality for All.' (72 Productions)
This isn’t left. This isn’t right. This is just the way it is. And it’s not only terribly wrong, it’s actually bad for business.
Those are some of the basic and inescapable points of “Inequality for All,” a terrifically plain-spoken and non-hysterical documentary that follows economist Robert Reich as he continues his near lifelong battle with the widening of the economic gap between the wealthy and everyone else in America.
The film uses Reich’s popular lecture hall class at the University of California at Berkeley as its frame, taking off for interviews and graphics and plenty of talking head time and then consistently returning to the classroom. There, the diminutive (he’s 4’ 10”) former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton gets his students laughing about matters that aren’t really all that funny.
Reich ties together the concerns of both Occupy Wall Street and the economically driven Tea Partyers and tracks economic trends over the decades, landing again and again on the fact that a healthy middle class makes for a healthy economy. After all, if people aren’t making money, they aren’t going to be able to buy things.
There have been numerous documentaries on this subject, especially in the past decade. What sets “Inequality for All” apart is a mix of Reich’s wonderfully conversational way of explaining things, his vast expertise and a distinct lack of vitriol. Reich doesn’t seem to want to hang anyone, he just wants to set things straight.
There’s a tendency to use his body as a comic gimmick that’s initially self-effacing but eventually distracting, and a few anecdotes fall a bit flat. But overall, this film is enlightening, entertaining and seriously alarming.
'Inequality for All'
Rated PG for thematic elements, some violence, language and smoking images
Running time: 88 minutes