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Roger and Me 1989

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Iwas kind of a strange child.
My parents knew early on that something was wrong with me.
I crawled backwards until I was two...
but had Kennedy's inaugural address memorized by the time I was six.
It all began when my mother didn't show up for my first birthday party...
because she was having my sister.
My dad tried to cheer me up by letting me eat the whole cake.
I knew then there had to be more to life than this.
When I was a kid, I thought only three people worked for General Motors:
Pat Boone, Dinah Shore and my dad.
Our hometown of Flint, Michigan, was the birthplace of General Motors...
the largest corporation in the world.
There were more auto factories and workers here than in any city on Earth.
We built Cadillacs, Buicks, and Fisher bodies...
GM trucks, Chevrolets, and AC spark plugs.
We enjoyed a prosperity that working people had never seen.
And the city was grateful to the company.
With the whole city rocking, Flint, Michigan, throws a birthday party.
It's for the people of General Motors on their 50th anniversary.
Pat Boone celebrates with a song.
The promise of the future is the keynote set by GM President, Harlow Curtis.
From the world of TV comes Sergeant Garcia...
and the swordsman known as Zorro.
But the big hit of the parade...
is the lively marching of the Elks junior drill team.
The citizens of Flint, birthplace of General Motors...
also see the radiant Miss America.
This was Flint as I remember, where every day was a great day.
It's a great day, all right.
A salute to Mr. And Mrs. America.
My dad worked on the assembly line at GM's AC Spark Plug in Flint for 33 years.
In fact, as I grew older, I discovered my entire family had worked for GM:
grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins. Everyone but me.
My uncle Laverne was in the Great Flint Sit-Down Strike.
Just hours before the year's end in 1936...
he and thousands of other GM workers took over the Flint factories...
and barricaded themselves inside, refusing to budge for 44 days.
The National Guard was called in, and the eyes of the world were on Flint.
On February 1 1, 1937, General Motors gave in...
and the UAW was born.
The GM employee has made great advances.
It is our wish that he continue to prosper.
Most of our employees, even those who at times cause problems...
are conscientious and hardworking men and women.
Men and women to whose imagination, ingenuity, energy and dedication...
our country owes its industrial leadership in the world.
That all sounded fine and good, but the assembly line wasn't for me.
My heroes were the Flint people who'd escaped the life in the factory...
and got out of Flint, like the guys in Grand Funk Railroad...
Casey Kasem, the women who married Zubin Mehta and Don Knotts...
and perhaps Flint's most famous native son, Bob Eubanks...
host of TV's hit show The Newlywed Game.
I figured if Bob Eubanks could make it out of here, so could I.
After 10 years of editing my own paper in Flint...
a California millionaire asked me to be the editor...
of his muckraking magazine in San Francisco.
It didn't take me long to figure out what to do.
The final issue of the Michigan Voice is being printed.
Ten years after he began it, Michael Moore is moving to San Francisco.
What would you do? I mean, this was San Francisco.
But San Francisco was on the other side of the world from Flint.
Everyone there had a job, yet no one seemed to be working.
The cafés were filled with people at 3:00 p.m.
I was told there's one restaurant for every 44 people in San Francisco...
but most of them seemed to be dessert places.
Trying to get a simple cup of coffee became a nightmare for me.
Espresso, double espresso, cappuccino, double cappuccino...
Iatte, double latte, mocha, double mocha...
caffe con panna, macchiato, double macchiato...
caffe bianco, or house blend.
I was feeling disoriented living in a town that didn't carry any nondairy creamer.
I went to work and announced...
that I was going to give a monthly column to a Flint auto worker.
The owner instead told me to run an investigative report on herbal teas.
I told him I had a better idea: Let's put the auto worker on the cover.
The owner wasn't amused and declared that California and I were a mismatch...
just before he offered me my free U-Haul back to Michigan.
-Hello, Dad. -Hello, son.
-It's been a long time. -lt sure has.
-Where's Mom? -ln the kitchen.
Why, your hands are filthy!
-Go upstairs and wash them. -Okay, Mom.
Okay, so my homecoming wasn't quite like that.
In fact, I wasn't back in Flint more than a few days when the bad news hit.
This is the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reporting.
Good evening.
General Motors confirmed it today.
It is going to close plants employing almost 30,000 workers.
Today we are announcing the closing...
of 1 1 of our older plants.
While Detroit and Pontiac will certainly be hurt by the shutdowns...
the effect on Flint is absolutely devastating.
Devastating wasn't the half of it. Maybe I got this wrong...
but I thought companies lay off people when they hit hard times.
GM was the richest company in the world...
and it was closing factories when it was making profits in the billions.
We do not have any plan to cut our workforce by 80,000.
That was kind of a what-happens-if type of thing.
So this was GM chairman Roger Smith.
He appeared to have a brilliant plan:
First close 1 1 factories in the U.S...
then open 1 1 in Mexico, where you pay the workers 70 cents an hour.
Use the money you saved by building cars in Mexico to take over other companies...
preferably high-tech firms and weapons manufacturers.
Next, tell the union you're broke...
and they happily give back a couple of billion dollars in wage cuts.
Then take that money from workers...
and eliminate their jobs by building more foreign factories.
Roger Smith was a true genius.
I think our employees have got a new emphasis on job security...
and we want to try and help them with that.
-What do you have to say to Roger Smith? -It's gonna be rough.
I can't mention it on television.
This was to be the first of many layoffs in Flint...
the final day for the GM truck plant.
I think most of you are aware...
that this is the first major plant closing...
to take place in Flint. Let me rephrase that.
This isn't a plant closing. It's a loss of one product line.
My friends and I decided to pose as a TV crew from Toledo...
to sneak inside the factory.
I wasn't exactly sure what a TV crew from Toledo looked like...
but apparently the ruse worked, as we filmed the last truck going down the line.
What's everybody so happy about? We just lost our jobs.
Everybody's applauding. They just lost their jobs.
We're trying impress upon the employees that are being laid off...
that there is nothing out there for them...
to depend upon for the future.
The best thing Michigan and GM can do is get rid of Roger Smith...
and them other sons of bitches.
That seemed to be the general consensus...
as I talked to many GM workers about their chairman, Roger Smith.
-What would you like to tell Roger Smith? -I'd tell him to retire.
He can't look an auto worker in the eye, because....
-He should be feeling guilty. -Most people are hungry. He's not.
I'd tell him to get off his big bucks...
and start giving some of it back to its workers.
I'm sick and tired of these damn fat cats.
I could say a few choice words, but I'm a lady and I was raised a lady...
so I won't say what I really feel...
but I could use some unsavory language as far as the fat cats.
Fire Roger Smith!
There were those who had a different opinion in Flint...
Iike Tom Kay, a spokesman and lobbyist for GM.
I'm sure that Roger Smith...
has a social conscience as strong as anybody else in the country.
Because a guy is an automobile executive does not make him inhuman.
I've talked to enough of them. I know what their concerns are.
He has as much concern about these people as you or I do...
and nobody likes to see anybody laid off or put in a hardship situation.
-Have you ever talked to Roger Smith? -Sure.
What kind of man do you find him to be?
A very warm man. I have....
A warm man?
Did I have Roger Smith judged all wrong...
simply because he was eliminating 30,000 jobs from my hometown?
I decided to find out.
I wrote. I phoned. I faxed. I tried every means of communication available...
but nothing got me any closer to Roger.
I was left with no choice.
I got in the car and drove about an hour south of Flint to Detroit...
to the world headquarters of General Motors.
My mission was a simple one:
to convince Roger Smith to spend a day with me in Flint...
and meet some of the people who were losing their jobs.
Everybody in?
-Can I help you gentlemen and ladies? -Yes, we're going to the 14th floor.
-Do you have an appointment? -No, we don't.
-I think you need an appointment. -To go up there?
-How can we make one? -You want to step out....
-First of all, anything above-- -We came down from Flint.
Anything above the first level here is private property. That's off-limits.
-This is all off-limits. It's a security area. -This is? All right.
Listen, who did you want to talk to?
-I want to talk to Roger Smith. -I'll get a PR man and we'll see.
-What kind of movie are you making? -It's a documentary on Flint.
On the labor problems?
The whole situation, the plant shutdowns, the layoffs.
We'll try to have someone contact you as soon as someone's available.
-All right, I'd appreciate it. -Have you got some kind of credentials?
-Where they can contact you? -What's your name?
Herb Slaughter. I'll give you a business card.
Let's see, I've got a frequent-flier card...
I was having a hard time finding my business card, because I don't have any.
So I gave Mr. Slaughter my discount pass to Chuck E. Cheese...
but he said that wouldn't get me in to see Mr. Smith.
So I headed back to Flint for further guidance from GM lobbyist Tom Kay.
General Motors wouldn't be doing anybody any service if it goes bankrupt.
It has to do what it has to do...
in order to stay competitive in today's economic climate.
Even if it means eliminating 18,000 jobs?
Even if it means eliminating 20,000 jobs.
-Or 30,000? -Whatever.
How about all the jobs here in Flint?
It could feasibly happen.
Good evening, I'm Sue Zelenko. Bill Harris has the night off.
It was where the UAW was born.
Tonight 3,000 people are trying to decide what to do with their lives.
Nobody was ready for the announced plant shutdowns today...
Ieast of all, the 1,350 workers.
The last truck chassis headed down the line this morning.
Virtually all the 3,400 people are on layoff.
Larry Elliot was at the plant today...
as that last car was making its way down the assembly line.
Will this plant build engines again if the rush back to small cars occurs?
The answer is no.
In Flint, Joe Weaver, Channel 2 Eyewitness News.
More factories had closed...
and I began to see the effect this was having on my friends.
Ben was the worker I'd put on the cover of that magazine in San Francisco.
He'd been laid off five times in five years from GM.
Expecting to be laid off again, he cracked one night working on the assembly line.
He was now shooting hoop at the local mental health center.
I couldn't take it. I told the guy next to me:
"Tell the foreman I'm sick. I don't give a shit what you tell him."
I grabbed my coat, flew out the door, passed the guards...
jumped into my car, got onto Bristol Road...
and was flying toward my apartment.
I turned on the radio, hoping that might cheer me up...
I had tears coming out of my eyes...
and I strike right into the middle of Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys.
And I'm thinking, "What a horrible song...
"to have to hear in the midst of this panic attack."
A song that I'd usually get a groove going with.
I'm trying to sing the lyrics, and I've got an apple in my throat.
I'm trying to rationalize with those lyrics...
trying to think, "Wouldn't it be nice?" And it just wasn't working.
Some disturbing news today from the Genesee County Health Department.
It announced the rat population in Flint...
has now surpassed the human population by 50,000.
Health officials say it's due to massive numbers of people leaving...
and the city cutting back to twice-monthly garbage collection...
due to budget constraints.
Just when things were looking bleak, Ronald Reagan arrived in Flint...
and took a dozen unemployed workers out for a pizza.
He told them he had a great idea. If they tried it, they'd all be working again.
He suggested that maybe some of us...
could find better jobs elsewhere...
Iike in Texas, or in the southern states.
That's when I spoke up...
because I have a son, a home.
I'm trying to do it by myself. I can't just pull up stakes and take off by myself.
We don't hold public office, we're nobody special...
but he wanted our opinions and views.
It was at a level I could understand, and I liked his ideas...
that he voiced to us.
None of Reagan's luncheon guests got back into the factory in later years.
The only bright spot of the whole affair...
was the individual who borrowed the restaurant's cash register...
on the way out the door.
Meanwhile, Flint's more fortunate were holding their annual Great Gatsby Party...
at the home of one of GM's founding families.
To show they weren't totally insensitive to the plight of others...
they hired local people to be human statues at the party.
What's it like in Flint these days?
Things are tough here for the people that are laid off.
There's still people working.
I don't think it's as bad as people may believe.
We started something, and we're gonna finish it.
-We're gonna be the leaders. -What did we start?
We started the industrial revolution...
an art form that's never been created in the history of mankind.
-What was that industrial revolution? -The cars. Steel.
It took off from there. We invented the wheel again.
We're off again and running.
What advice do you have for those having a rough go of it?
Get up in the morning and go do something.
Start yourself. Get your own motor going. There's things to do out there.
I don't think it's fair to pick on the negative things and publicize them...
and not pick up any of the good aspects about Flint.
What are some of those good aspects?
-The ballet. Your kids were involved in it. -Ballet. Hockey. It's a great place to live.
Sheriff's department. Anybody home?
I had found one man in Flint with a secure job:
sheriff's deputy Fred Ross.
I treat a person the way I would like to be treated.
You know, I explain to them that I got a job to do.
The court issued the order, not me.
If you can make peace with your landlord, good.
If you can't, you've got a problem.
I've put out some good people.
You have a lot of people in this town paying $800 to $900 a month house note.
That's a lot of money to try to pay on unemployment.
Some of these people don't want to leave...
especially older people.
Some of them have retired from the shop.
Taxes catch a lot of them, too.
So if things go down, they close up some plants here...
this town is gonna be a rough place.
I continued my search for Roger.
I scoured the neighborhoods of Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Woods...
Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park...
Grosse Pointe Shores, and Bloomfield Hills.
I tried in vain to locate his house...
but the name Smith was a common one among these people.
I then read that Roger was going to be at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.
I decided to drop in on the affair.
I haven't seen him.
-You haven't seen him here yet? -Just a moment.
-Are you calling him? -Who, Roger Smith?
You want me to call Roger Smith?
I'm trying to get the manager to see if anybody knows anything about him.
I'm sure he said the Grosse Pointe. I mean it wasn't him--
Who, his office?
-Why don't we call his office and find out? -We could do that.
I have a television crew down here with Michael Moore.
He's supposed to meet Roger Smith at noon. I have no information.
How often does Mr. Smith come here for lunch or dinner?
Last time I saw him here was for Sportsmen's Night.
-What's that? -It's a wild game dinner.
-You go and shoot your own animal? -Pardon me?
You go and shoot your animals and bring them here to eat--
Some of the stuff is donated.
There are foods like rattlesnake....
Let me think of some real exotic foods.
-You eat this stuff here? -Roast beef.
That sounds better.
I obviously had the wrong yacht club, because Roger was nowhere to be found.
I didn't have more time to waste here, because back at Flint's county fair...
thousands of people were being entertained by the diving donkeys...
anxiously awaiting the return of our boyhood hero...
as he made his triumphant return home to Flint.
From Genesee County Fair, the newlywed capital of the world...
here come the newlyweds!
A big hand. This is your part....
There they come.
Yes, it's The Newlywed Game...
and these are our newlywed couples for today.
Let's all meet the host and star of The Newlywed Game:
Bob Eubanks!
Hello, everybody. Welcome. How nice of you to come here today.
Welcome to the opening of.... Hi, Mom. How are you doing?
You devil, you!
What about questions like, "How heavy are your wife's breasts?"
I never ask that. I say, "What does your wife's chest weigh?"
There's a lot of difference in that question you just asked....
A hell of a lot of difference. That's where I think we get a bad rap.
People like yourself will quote a question like that.
I wouldn't ask that question for anything. I wouldn't even say "breasts."
First question. These are easy questions.
Ladies, how much did your husband say your chest weighs?
-Gladys, what do you say, sweetheart? -Two pounds.
Two pounds! He said six-and-a-half ounces.
I said, "Both of them." He said, "That is both of them."
I said, "I'm sorry." He said, "Not as sorry as I am."
Bob was right. He didn't say "breasts " and I considered apologizing...
for implying that his show wasn't wholesome family entertainment.
You know why Jewish women don't get AlDS?
Because they marry assholes, they don't screw them. Pardon me.
Ladies and gentlemen, that's all for this afternoon.
If I made you smile one time, I'm happy. I had a good time. I hope you did, too.
Until next time. We'll be back every night....
I'm Bob Eubanks. So long, everybody. See you then.
I was born here in Flint, but I don't know anything about it.
I can only tell you this about this town:
It's pretty...
and the people are nice.
I don't know much about the economy, but I can take you to places in the U.S...
much worse off than Flint, Michigan. I don't think it's such a bad town.
With 30,000 jobs now eliminated, the city decided to turn to the one event...
that had always made us so happy: the big parade...
this time honoring the surviving Flint Sit-Down Strikers.
The highlight of the parade was Miss Michigan, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko.
Passing by dozens of boarded-up stores and hundreds of jobless Flint citizens...
she was an inspiring sight to all present.
How do you feel about the economy in Flint?
The factories all shutting down?
This isn't my interview yet. This is my time for enjoyment.
All kinds of important people showed up to march in the parade...
Iike the governor of Michigan, James Blanchard.
How do you feel about General Motors closing up these factories in Flint?
It's tragic.
Do you think we need another sit-down strike?
That won't do any good. That's the problem.
Is this a great time for a parade?
I think so, too. Let's have a fun time!
Give your life to Jesus today.
Jesus Christ loves you. Give your life to Jesus.
Tell your viewers they need Jesus! Give your life to Jesus.
How could you have a parade for the founders...
without inviting the current president of the United Auto Workers, Owen Bieber?
I don't know that we need another sit-down strike per se.
A sit-down strike today would not necessarily resemble...
or be able to bring about the same thing that it did in 1937.
The union is getting weaker. We're losing power.
Why? Because there's too many guys in the union...
that are friends with the management.
Some plants that are announced to be closed obviously will be closed.
We have to accept the reality that they're just not going to remain open.
I think that with the spirit here...
Flint will continue not only to survive, but will continue to grow.
Some people know what time it is. Some people don't.
Miss Michigan, could we talk to you for one second?
Your face looks familiar. Was this when you caught me on the road?
Yes, back in the parade. How does it feel driving through Flint, Michigan, today...
and so many people being laid off, so many plants being shut down?
-How does it feel? I feel like a supporter. -Of?
-Does it matter of what? -A supporter of General Motors?
Of just being here for the people. Is it the parade?
When you pass stores that are boarded-up and people that are laid off...
how does that make you feel on a personal level?
A little sad. Of course, I'm for employment...
and working in Michigan.
And, hopefully, it's just temporarily.
So, I just keep my fingers crossed that they'll be back working soon.
I'm trying to stay neutral. I'm going to Miss America in two weeks, and I don't....
-It's a great day for a parade, isn't it? -It's beautiful. I can't believe the crowd.
It's the largest parade I've been in...
and I've been in over 20 since June.
It's wonderful. I love coming back to Flint. It's my third trip here, and I love it.
Any message to the people of Flint?
Keep your fingers crossed for me as I go for the gold in two weeks...
and hopefully bring back a crown for Flint and the Michigan state.
Two weeks later, she got her wish.
Our new Miss America...
Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, Miss Michigan!
This is probably Number 15 I've been here and evicted someone.
-From this house? -Yes.
Daryl? Sheriff's department.
Get your clothes on. We're here to put you out.
-Here to do what? -Evict you from the house. Right now.
People stay up all night and sleep all day.
Deputy Fred seemed especially busy these days.
After doing 24 evictions in one day...
he arrived to evict a woman who was a month behind in her rent.
She quickly got the landlord on the phone.
After telling him that a film crew had arrived with the sheriff...
the landlord told Fred not to evict the woman and her children.
It had leaked so much, this whole area was bulging down.
My oldest son.... I moved his bed, I was scared the ceiling would fall.
But nobody was there at the time it fell.
It needed to be painted outside. The aluminum siding outside, I put on.
I paid for it and had it put on.
See my new siding? It does look better.
You put that on since last time I was here. You've spent a lot of money.
It looked like the raggediest house on the block.
These houses look nice and I was embarrassed about it.
The deal was pretty good, so I worked with it.
-What will happen to this woman? -End up putting her out...
unless her new husband comes up with the money.
I can't imagine somebody getting married to someone as poor as you.
It gets kind of rough. Put two poor people in the same house....
I always tell women, "You can be poor by yourself, you don't need help."
And she just got some help being poor.
Three days later, Fred put the woman and her kids out.
-Hi, can I help you? -We're looking for Roger Smith.
We're wondering if he's here.
I have no idea if he's here or not, but you'll have to leave the club.
-Why's that? -It's a private club.
-Has he been here today? -To my knowledge, he has not.
-Does he come here often? -I really don't know.
-ls he a member here? -He is a member.
But you don't know if he's been here?
We don't keep track of our membership. You'll have to leave the club, sir.
-lt is a private building. -You'd know if he--
-Sir, we'll have to ask you to leave. -I just want to find out--
Sorry, you'll have to leave the club. Call General Motors. Check with them.
We have called GM. We can't get in there.
If you can't get in there, you can't get in here. Would you mind leaving?
-We could just wait. -No, you can't.
They say you must leave the building, sir. You have to step outside.
We'll come back.
I'll be right here. They told me to take you outside.
You may wait outside. If he comes in, you can interview him outside.
You may not interview him in here.
You don't remember the last time he was here?
-That means nothing. -When the chairman of GM is in here?
That doesn't impress me.
It doesn't impress you? The chairman of GM?
The chairman of General Motors is just another member of our organization.
He's an important individual, but no more important than any other member.
I wasn't having much success bringing Roger to Flint.
The mayor, though, was having better luck with an even higher authority.
He paid TV evangelist Robert Schuller $20,000...
to come to Flint and rid the city of its unemployment plague.
Tough times don't last, but tough people do.
Thousands filled the city's hockey arena to hear his message of hope.
Pull your way out of poverty!
You won't pull your way from poverty to prosperity...
until you realize you have to be humble enough to say, "I need help. "
By then what happens is you can turn your hurt into a halo.
The sorrow becomes a servant.
Just because you've got problems...
is no excuse to be unhappy.
Maybe Reverend Schuller was right.
Things could be worse, and there was much to be thankful for...
Iike the Star Theatre of Flint...
funded with GM money to provide entertainment and escape...
during Flint's hard times.
Buick City, this is called.
Rednecks, hardhat automotive workers.
We bring Broadway and the theater to them...
in this beautiful edifice. But that takes money, time, effort, energy.
Bobby Vinton opened our season. It was 90 percent sold out. It was a big hit.
He has charisma. Came into the audience, spent about 15 minutes with them...
fussing with the ladies, kissing, and they loved him.
He got standing ovations every night.
Peggy Lee came. She wasn't the greatest hit.
But she had her cult from surrounding areas.
Her cult love her. Those who came absolutely loved her.
Standing ovations, bravos, cheers.... They were crazy about her.
Last year, Mitzi Gaynor came here with her show.
She brings 10 wonderful boy dancers with her.
She makes 16 changes. The boys make 14.
When they're on, she's off. She's on, they're off, changing costumes.
One production number after another.
You'd be surprised. Some of those hard-hat factory workers say, "Hey! "
They present their badge or identification, so they can come at a half-price ticket...
to keep them coming when they're having hard times.
Long before she sold orange juice...
Anita Bryant sold spark plugs for General Motors' AC division.
She used to perform for General Motors when I was a child.
I remember her carrying around a giant spark plug...
and singing You'll Never Walk Alone.
Now she was back in Flint, offering advice to the unemployed.
Opportunities are still in Flint, Michigan. They're still in America.
Hang in there. Take a day at a time.
Go forward and be positive about life.
Don't feel regretful or guilty about the past, or worry about the future.
You have today. Today's a new day.
It's an opportunity for you to look about you...
and look at the positive within yourself and within your community.
I read something interesting. Margaret Thatcher says:
"Cheer up, America. You live in a great country.
"You're a free country. You have a great President.
"Not everything's perfect, but cheer up, because you live in a free America."
So, we live in a free society.
Today is a new day, an opportunity to do something with yourself.
If nothing else, thank God for the sunshine...
and for the fact that you're not starving to death.
Go out and do something with your hands. I don't know.
Flint is bedrock America.
People here don't quit or give up.
They know there've been many good times in the past, and there's more...
of good, productive time ahead.
It was like I was reliving my childhood.
First Anita, and now "Mr. Chevrolet" himself.
Pat Boone had arrived in Flint just when we needed him.
I look the same. I liked you the moment I saw you.
More people identified me with Chevrolet...
than any other sponsor, and any other spokesman.
Since my family was getting bigger, we were having a baby a year...
I needed a station wagon. So each year I worked for Chevrolet...
I had a Corvette and a station wagon to use.
That strengthened my feeling that this was a great sponsor and a great product...
which I could whole-heartedly endorse on television, and did.
Take a look at Chevrolet's '58 Corvette.
What a beauty!
I own and drive one of these myself. I can vouch for them.
The sweetest-handling baby on the road today.
Chevrolet's completely new in style. It's the longest, too.
Have you ever met Roger Smith, the chairman of General Motors?
I haven't. At least, I don't think I have.
If I had, it would have been before he was chairman...
years ago, during my involvement. I don't think we've met.
So you don't know much about him?
I don't know much about him. He seems to be a very optimistic, can-do kind of guy.
He's not a quitter.
I knew you'd rather have a Buick. See you later.
Who's to blame for what's happened in Flint?
I don't think it's anybody's fault.
In a free society, in a capitalistic, democratic society...
things do change. There are shifts and trends.
I'm sure General Motors doesn't have any desire...
to either close down a plant or put people out of work.
The key becomes the attitude.
Folks wind up saying, "lt was the best thing that happened to me...
"when my job at the plant phased out. I was only gonna go so far at the plant.
"Now I've got my own business, whatever it is."
It's maybe no accident...
that the Amway business, for one, is in aid of Michigan...
offering anybody, for very little money, a chance to start earning dollars...
having their own store in their home.
If you have a dream, and you go after your dream, you can do it.
If you do it full-time, you can really make good money.
You can make a lot of money off of these.
Janet was one of hundreds of Flint's citizens who had taken Pat's advice.
Although her husband was still working at GM...
she'd seen many of her friends laid off, and didn't want to take any chances.
She'd been the founder and host of Flint's feminist radio show.
Now she was a distributor for Amway.
Color is my main love.
I got color-analyzed myself a couple of years prior to learning color consulting.
As soon as I found out what season I was...
it changed my outlook. I went around draping everyone with my eyes.
I really wanted to get into this business. It was exciting to me.
About 80 percent of the world's population is winter or summer.
Blacks, Jews, ltalians most often are winters.
I start with the orange and pink drape.
The reason is because I want to put you into a family:
the warm family or the cool family.
People who are warm have a yellow undertone to their skin.
The orange drape brings the yellow undertone out...
and makes them look really good.
If you put orange on someone who has a blue undertone...
which would be the pink, or cool, family...
then their face will get real pale...
or they'll look real tired...
or they'll get a lot of ruddiness come out on their face.
So I like to put what I think is the wrong color on you first...
then I can compare it to the right color.
That way it will really improve how you look.
What usually happens is what I'm seeing happen to her.
She gets jaundice when you put orange on her.
She turns yellow, looks a little bit sickly.
You might not even see it that much now, but let's compare it to the pink.
I get a small commission on every account.
Join up and find out. It's good!
Three months after we attended Janet's Amway meeting...
she phoned in a panic and asked that we come back...
as she'd made a terrible mistake.
I've very recently learned that I am not an autumn.
I was color-analyzed by someone in the lMS line...
who are the people who taught me to do colors.
I've discovered that I am another season.
It's a warm season, like autumn, but it's spring instead.
The colors that I wear are basically the same color family...
but they're lighter and brighter.
It's really a shock to me, because I am out there...
color-analyzing women all the time. Little did I know...
that I was not the season that I was telling people I was.
I felt sorry for Janet. So, to cheer her up, I let her do my colors.
As it turned out, we were the same season.
There were other ways to survive in Flint.
Taco Bell was one.
The local Taco Bell was retraining laid-off auto workers...
to assemble tacos and chicken fajitas.
The local paper said this would be their dream job.
When I stopped by to see how they were doing...
the manager told me why all the ex-GM workers had been fired.
Many of them say this is a lot of hard work...
because assembly work is easy. It depends on what you make it.
At Taco Bell, every day's a new day.
Every time you turn around, it's a different challenge.
-Taco Light. -One Taco Light.
-Would you like Cinnamon Crispas? -Yeah, you make it sound so good.
Dining here today?
Fast food is one of the most stressful environments...
because of the demands on you.
Fast food demands a fast pace...
because we want to present a food item...
within so many seconds, if we can do it.
The transaction from assembly work and the fast pace at Taco Bell....
Some of them just couldn't develop that speed.
There's a number of small manufacturing companies that have done very well.
One I like to look at is Helmac Co. Are you familiar with them?
They invented a lint roller.
Now they ship lint rollers all over the world...
and have a very profitable, nice business operating.
Maybe there's a....
-There's all kinds of opportunities-- -Tom, wait a minute.
Lint rollers? That's the solution to an auto industry--
That's an example.
A giant auto industry that had its birthplace here in Flint?
Lint rollers will pull us out of this depression?
There's as much opportunity here...
as when Billy Durant started the motor company on Water Street.
Maybe more opportunities.
-You believe that? -Yes, I do. Absolutely.
I saw the sign down on the street...
that said you're selling rabbits and bunnies here?
-For sale? -You want pets or meat?
Pets or meat?
Meaning I can buy the bunnies to have as a pet...
or I can buy them for....
Meat. They're already dressed and cleaned.
I butcher the babies when they are four or five months old.
That's good.
If you butcher the older ones, like these guys...
then they're stewers. They're not fryers.
A lot of people like fryers better than they do the stewers.
-That makes sense. -So I keep my personal stock.
When my babies get four or five months old, and I have 15 to 20 babies...
you've got to get rid of them some way.
If they don't sell as pets, you got to get rid of them as meat.
Them guys are all meat.
-See, they start doing this to each other. -What's that?
Peeing on each other and stuff like that, when they get older.
If you don't have separate cages for them, then they start fighting.
Then the males castrate the other males.
They do. They chew their balls right off. Then you have a bloody mess.
That's why you got to butcher them when they're a certain age...
or you have a heck of a mess.
I'm on social security.
The only other income I have is my rabbits...
for groceries, bills, and my dogs.
I also raise Doberman pinschers.
Because sometimes I only make $10 to $15 a week...
but that's better than nothing. At least I can buy $10 to $15 worth of groceries.
'Cause you only get paid once a month from social security...
and that's not very much.
It's really popular. A lot of people come down here.
Usually some people come down.
They're only open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
Saturday and Sunday, they're closed.
On the holidays, they get...
Iike, $1 to $2 bonus here and there.
If you're doing this every day, isn't your arm filled with needle marks?
They only keep it in one certain spot.
You keep it right there. Doesn't look bad.
I take some rubbing alcohol to get the scar tissue to heal up.
Can we see it?
I only do it in my right arm.
It's not so bad.
They only do it in a certain place, in a certain spot.
It's right here.
They don't track it up. They only do it in two places.
No! My baby!
Oh, God!
Flint is best known for its principal industry.
But it's quickly gaining notoriety as a major crime center.
It's a record year for homicides in the Vehicle City.
According to the FBI, Flint now has the highest violent crime rate in America.
...crime rate is one of the highest on the continent.
A big part of the problem is there aren't enough jail cells...
for all the criminals.
-I got it. -I don't think that target would have lived.
I got two out of the ring there.
-You got three out the ring, son. -Yes, sir.
Where is my third one?
Here's two here. Where's the third one out of the ring?
Okay, that one's out of the ring.
Your biggest problem is your barrel length.
We usually tell them that probably their best protection for home...
is the short-barreled shotgun.
-Why is that? -It's easy to handle...
and if you do have to shoot, you're not liable to miss.
And when they hear that pump gun...
when you rack that, there's no other sound like it.
Usually you don't have to fire it.
They get moving pretty fast. They'll move away.
They don't like the sound.
They know exactly what you have.
You don't have to say, "l have a gun in my hand."
They know it'll really tear them up.
With higher unemployment creating more crime in Flint...
General Motors and the United Auto Workers' union came up with a novel idea.
Train the ex-auto workers to be prison guards and give them jobs in the jails...
now filling up with their former line mates.
It's kind of sad in a way to see somebody that you know...
or had done something with on the outside being in jail...
or sentenced to prison or something like that.
But I guess it's, you know.... The theory goes, you play, you pay.
And you get over it.
I'd have a possibility to move on.
That's what this 160-hour program was all about.
I have a certificate now, stating that I can apply anywhere in the United States.
The money's not an object right now.
If I can improve myself, morally, the money will come later.
It's almost half of what I was making at General Motors...
-but I like the work a lot better. -You'll do what?
It's not as hot.
You don't scare me by saying that. I'll screw your fucking ass!
I don't care what you think! I'll screw you!
You'll cope with me in a few days, I'm telling you that now!
You don't scare me! I know my rights!
-I went to school, okay? -What's going on?
Someone in a heated discussion down there, I guess.
I'm going to jump you! I'll get you, man!
...a staff member is a violation of that rule.
I don't respect you!
When you give me respect, I'll respect you.
-Take it easy. -I know my rights!
I really don't know the answer. I feel sorry for people...
but you can't help them. I mean, you have such a good welfare program.
So, they just don't want to work.
I don't think so. I really don't know.
-Good shot. -That's nice.
All four of us have always lived in Flint and gone to school here.
We just love it so.
-What do you love about it? -I personally love our friends, you know.
And we like our club, and we like...
all the stores and...
you know, what's left of them.
I think everybody should...
try to find another job, or do something else in training, or something.
You think a lot of people are being lazy?
I think some of them.
I think a lot of them take the easy way out.
Judge issued the order to vacate the house.
-Right now? -Yes, ma'am.
Okay, that's the least he can do. I'll go get a truck.
-Today? -Right now.
Can't you wait till we get a truck?
You can get the truck, but they got a crew on the way here.
They stopped at the store to get a pop. I'd get dressed if I was you.
We got to vacate the house.
We're doing more evictions, more repossessions, and everything...
way behind, trying to catch up.
A lot of these people bought school clothes and didn't pay the rent.
The system 's got to change...
because if they didn't have enough money to pay rent and buy clothes...
they're in trouble, anyway.
I've put out some of my best friends, but it's nothing personal, you know.
They know me, they know what I do, so....
If they're lucky enough to draw me...
at least they got somebody to talk to.
These people couldn't find a truck. They called two or three different places.
They called U-Haul...
and they said all their trucks were out for today.
They called Ryder Truck, and they said all of theirs were out for today.
A gentleman came by, we hauled him down, and he didn't want to get involved.
So now I assume they're on the phone, trying to get a trailer...
from Mark's Trailer Rental up on Carpenter Road.
Why are all the trucks being rented here?
People are probably moving.
With GM closing, there are so many people leaving town.
We've handled over 82,000 address changes.
We're having a lot of people just abandon their house sometimes.
Thank God we're getting new equipment here.
We're getting new higher-tech computers that will be able to process more mail.
I don't foresee this job evaporating.
I feel we're secure in forwarding mail.
Usually we see somebody every day that we know...
that's moved on, left town.
A lot of people are looking for work elsewhere.
My husband's currently laid off, and we're giving some thought to it ourselves.
The GM layoff.
We have been having so many trucks...
go one-way to places like Florida...
and places south of here.
We have a very hard time keeping trucks in the Flint area.
It's expected we'll get some of our fleet back towards midsummer...
but with the layoffs coming heavier...
it's going to be very hard to keep a truck around here.
I continued to dog Roger all over the country.
From Detroit to Chicago...
to Washington, D.C., to New York City.
I followed a trail of three-martini lunches in pursuit of the chairman.
I finally found Roger at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City...
where he was getting an award for the car of the year.
We weren't in the hotel five minutes...
when GM security recognized one of our crew members...
as a relative of their arch nemesis, Ralph Nader.
They called the New York City police and carried him out...
chair and all, down to precinct headquarters.
As soon as I could, I headed to Detroit to Roger's office...
where I was determined this time to get on to the 14th floor.
Excuse me.
-Where are you guys going? -We're going up to the 14th floor.
-Do you have an appointment? -We're going to see Roger Smith.
No, you're not. You're not getting on one of those elevators.
-Why's that? -You're not going without an appointment.
Can we go up and try making an appointment?
I need Tony or Denise.
-The reason to talk to Roger Smith? -Michael Moore.
No, what's your reason for seeing Roger Smith?
-Excuse me. I need to see you. -We're making a film....
I quickly sized up the situation:
three guards in the booth, plus the one with the corsage...
a dozen security cameras...
and four new cars with inflated sticker prices parked in the lobby.
If I made a run for it to Roger's office, what's the worst that could happen?
Before I could fully explore the consequences of such an action...
my escorts to the 14th floor finally arrived.
Mr. Smith is not in at the present time.
We'd be happy to take your request under advisement, as with all appointments.
I've been told that before. I've called, written, and I've been here before.
-Have you written? -Yes, I've written.
-To whom? -To Roger Smith...
General Motors building, Grand Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.
John, how about we have a letter sent to your office?
Why don't you send a letter to us...
and we will be happy to, as I say, take it under advisement...
just as we do all requests to see the chairman.
It's just that I've been waiting for a year to get this.
It's been under advisement for a long time.
What I'd like to do is just go up to the 14th floor...
and set up an appointment with his secretary.
That would be impossible.
Obviously, I was getting the big blowoff once again.
Meanwhile, things weren't getting better back in Flint.
More jobs had been eliminated.
The city had become the unemployment capital of the country.
The visits from the stars and the creation of new jobs...
had failed to pull Flint out of its depression.
Just when it appeared that all hope was lost...
the city fathers came up with one last great idea.
You don't usually think of tourist attraction when you think of Flint...
but people here in Flint would like to change that.
And they're willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths.
Flint officials would like to see the local tourist economy explode.
Flint's Convention and Tourism Bureau president...
says visitors should take advantage of Flint's convenient location.
Millions of travelers pass by our doorstep.
Now, with this active and aggressive promotion...
we'll be able to draw them into our city and experience what we have to offer.
As part of the plan to attract tourism and conventions...
the city spent $13 million in tax funds to build a Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Although most people in Flint were now too poor to afford a room at the Hyatt...
the hotel allowed the public on opening day...
to come and ride the city's only escalator.
We put a luxury hotel in the heart of our city...
just like other cities with their luxury hotels...
with everything from the fountains and high ceilings...
the atrium lobby, to the large windows, the large plants.
The quality is there...
what you would find in Chicago, or Atlanta, or San Francisco.
We've got some great facilities, as far as places to stay...
interesting places to see, museums....
And it's a nice community to visit.
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Roberts.
They're two of the thousands of people...
who decide to spend some time at Genesee County each year.
There's the sign. We're almost there.
I can hardly wait to see some of the places in the brochures.
Let's pull off and fill up first.
-You from out of town? -Yeah, we're on vacation.
Welcome to Flint. You staying here?
Yeah, we are. Lots to do?
Sure, there's lots of attractions here. Have you seen Crossroads Village?
See how a little hospitality, right from the start, really makes a difference?
Suggesting things to see and do builds our own image...
and it creates positive word-of-mouth endorsements...
the most inexpensive, yet most valuable type of advertising there is.
Once again, you see our slogan: "Flint: our new spark will surprise you."
Capturing a lot of enthusiasm.
Letting people know there are some new and surprising things in the Flint area.
This is our visitors' log book. I see West Germany here, Australia.
Jackie, what are some of the things that visitors ask us?
First off, "Where is the bathroom?"
That's the question I get asked most.
Then, "What is there to do in Flint?"
The city had a hard time attracting major conventions to the Hyatt.
It settled for groups like the Michigan Ready Mix Concrete Association...
and the statewide organization of Scrabble players.
On this last game, I made a seven-letter word, "partier."
So we looked in the Scrabble bible, which is this dictionary...
and it isn't allowed there.
They allow "partied," P-A-R-T-l-E-D...
and "parties," P-A-R-T-l-E-S...
but no "partier." So don't claim you are one ever.
Flint's leaders needed more tourists.
They hired the company that built New York's South Street Seaport...
to come to Flint and create Water Street Pavilion.
We took a four-square-block area, tore it down...
and built this new facility...
which is a lot of glass and steel, as well as plants...
and different colors to make it festive, fun and exciting.
Also, a major parking ramp...
and some other facilities connected with the building.
It's more than just another building in downtown Flint.
I like the color and the excitement of it. It's very good for tourism in our area.
A major stop for the bus tours that come to our area.
They pull up, park the bus, and unload 40 senior citizens or so.
Water Street brings a fun atmosphere that comes with a festival marketplace...
much like other festival marketplaces around the country.
But the crowning jewel in Flint's plan to attract tourists was AutoWorld...
hailed by city officials as the world's largest indoor theme park.
Today is the first day...
of the rebirth...
of the great city of Flint.
The governor had reason to be excited.
Donny and Marie had come to celebrate the opening of AutoWorld...
constructed at a cost of over $100 million...
and dedicated to the belief that the automobile made America great.
I paid my $8.95 and saw something I hadn't seen in a long time...
downtown Flint, rebuilt exactly to scale...
under the glass-enclosed dome of AutoWorld...
to look like it used to before the factory closings.
They predicted a million tourists would come...
to ride the world's only indoor Ferris wheel...
to gaze at the world's largest car engine...
and to meet the official sponsors of the American dream.
My favorite was the exhibit sponsored by General Motors.
A puppet auto worker...
singing a love song to the robot replacing him on the assembly line.
The song was called Me and My Buddy.
AutoWorld will make a major contribution...
to our important tourism and travel industry.
It's not only a contribution to that, but as the mayor said:
"To jobs for our people, our children, our neighbors."
The million tourists never came to Flint.
The Hyatt went bankrupt and was put up for sale.
Water Street Pavilion saw most of its stores go out of business.
And, only six months after opening...
AutoWorld closed due to a lack of visitors.
I guess it was like expecting a million people a year...
to go to New Jersey to ChemicalWorld, or to Valdez, Alaska, to ExxonWorld.
Some people just don't like to celebrate human tragedy while on vacation.
It started to get looking like Toronto...
upper middle-class black and white people...
and everybody was dressed nice.
We thought it would be the entertainment center of the county...
in all truth. That may be naive, but that was my goal.
Let's make it the entertainment center...
so that everybody wants to be in downtown Flint.
We're going to have entertainment and art.
It's going to be very cultural, it going to be very upbeat.
Somebody said something to me, and maybe it's true.
They said, "Look, Maxine...
"you can't make Palm Beach out of the Bowery.
"You want to make Palm Beach, you got to go there."
Half of Flint was now receiving some form of government welfare.
Meanwhile, Roger Smith gave himself a $2,000,000 raise.
GM lobbyist Tom Kay tried to explain.
I don't understand your connection, that by saying...
because General Motors was born here, it owes more to this community.
-I don't agree with that. -Why not?
Because I just don't agree with it. I believe it's a corporation.
It's in business to make a profit. It does what it has to do to make a profit.
That's the nature of corporations or companies.
It's why people take their own money and invest it in a business...
so they can make money.
It isn't to honor their hometown.
What's going on here?
They're evicting somebody from his home.
I was just wondering.
It turned out that the guy Deputy Fred was evicting had gone to my high school.
His name was James Bond.
As if that hadn't caused him enough grief...
he was now being thrown out of his home.
Where can I go to stay?
We had five kids at the place where I was this morning.
And you went over there and evicted them?
-Set them out on the ground. -Why is that?
Because they didn't pay the rent. You think I like this?
I got other things to do.
-You've been doing it a long time. -It's a job.
-What can I say? It's a job. -It's a job.
Somebody's got to do it.
I feel sorry for the people that have kids.
What will they grow up to? What do they look forward to?
-lf I was a young man, I'd keep working. -Look out there. It's nothing.
-They got a bleak future. -I know. I worked over there for 17 years.
-I quit. I worked there. -Why did you quit?
Got tired of the system.
It was like a prison to me, so I quit.
It was like a prison?
That factory played tricks on your mind.
-Where are you going to stay? -I'll probably stay at my brother's tonight.
The thing is, I don't want to stay with somebody.
I want a chance to have something of my own...
which doesn't look like it's going to happen, ever.
Not in this town.
These are rough times.
Really rough times. I got thrown out of my house once.
The health inspector came out...
and told me that I was dressing my rabbits in a unsanitary condition.
So now I have to build me a building...
where there's washable walls, washable floors...
and an unbreakable light.
I have to have a scale that weighs properly...
and I have to have three sinks where I dress the rabbits.
-What's going to happen to him? -He's going to be eaten.
He's going to be our supper on the supper table.
What's the matter?
What are you guys crying about?
How do you slaughter them?
Hung them upside-down and stripped their fur off...
and gutted them.
Quit biting.
And chop their heads off.
Quit it.
What happened to your brother who worked at the factory?
He got laid off.
Now you know what I'm talking about.
He's dripping.
My girlfriend out in Fenton, we tan them...
and we try to make coats, gloves and animals out of the furs.
-What kind of coat does rabbit fur make? -A rabbit coat.
-What else do you think it makes? -ls it a nice coat? Warm?
I don't know. We ain't made one yet. We got to get enough furs.
-How many do you need? -A lot.
You need lots and lots of furs.
Right now, we've only got 135 furs...
with all the rabbits I've done so far...
before I got in trouble.
That's why I'm not actually supposed to be doing this.
I was brought up to learn to survive.
If you were out in the wilderness....
I'm getting ready to gut him.
You think it's hard to survive in Flint these days?
The shops are all going down, and people just ain't...
got the money like they used to anymore...
and you can't be buying things.
That's why I said my rabbit meat usually went....
The people of Flint had been through the wringer.
Then came the lowest blow.
Money magazine declared Flint the worst place to live in all the country.
The chamber of commerce and local beer distributors decided to take a stand.
They would burn Money magazine.
I came to burn Money magazine, because Flint's my adopted city.
I've lived in plenty of cities, and this is one of the best.
There's plenty of things to do. The economy isn't that bad off.
We're all hard workers and survivors, and I support Flint.
This is to tell people that Flint is our hometown.
There's no way on God's green earth it's the worst place to live in the country.
A lot of people say there's nothing to do in Flint. "Ha! " I say.
I mean, how many cities have their own PGA Tour event?
Not that many. We have one right here.
How many cities have an air show the size we have?
How many people have parks, rivers and trees...
and huge colleges like this over here? Not that many.
We've got a lot going for us, and don't ever forget it.
One good way to start out would be with a song...
about another industrial city that has seen hard times.
The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, singing a song about his hometown.
Burn, Money, burn!
That smells like Gary, Indiana.
Don't let anybody tell you you live in the country's worst place.
They're wrong!
Good evening. I'm Ted Koppel, and this is Nightline.
Flint was now in the national spotlight. The biggest event was to come...
when Ted Koppel announced he'd interview city officials live...
in front of city hall, on Nightline.
The trouble started--
Here's what we know so far.
The ABC news program Nightline was to be broadcasted live...
from in front of city hall tonight.
The reason? The closing of the historic Fisher One Plant.
Apparently, moments before the broadcast...
someone got in the satellite truck and drove it off, cables and all.
Nightline has had to cancel their segment from the city of Flint...
and police are looking for a suspect.
Reporting live from city hall in Flint, I'm Barb Schroeder, TV 12 News.
They caught the unemployed worker who made off with the Nightline van.
But crime in Flint continued to grow.
One guy thought he was Superman's cousin and decided to save the town.
He didn't get very far.
He just wanted us to call him Captain Dah.
He said, "You can call me Dah-Dah," whatever that meant.
The old jail couldn't hold...
the increasing number of inmates the judges were locking up.
So the county built a new, state-of-the-art jail...
that was five stories high and filled a city block.
The night before the jail was to open, the city threw a party...
where couples paid $100 to stay overnight in jail.
When you first come in from the limo ride...
from the pub-crawling before you get here, they book you...
they give you a free Breathalyzer test, and a mug shot...
complete with your fingerprinting.
Why do you want to spend the night in Flint jail?
-Just for the experience. -Yes, I've never been in jail before.
Let's fight.
And we're having a fantastic time here.
It was time to confront Roger face to face.
Posing as a GM stockholder, I got into the annual GM shareholders' meeting.
I sat patiently as stockholders aired their grievances to the board.
Finally, it was my turn at the mike.
Microphone number 40 is somebody who hasn't had the opportunity to speak.
Mr. Chairman, I have Mr. Michael Moore...
a stockholder from Flint, Michigan.
Mr. Gilbert, I wonder if you'd like to make a motion to adjourn?
I think we've answered all questions.
I think everyone has had a turn at the mike.
I have one question.
All right. Moved and adjourned.
Thank you very much. You've been a great audience.
I thought you said Louie was here.
-He's right there. -He was sleeping.
He got up slow, and didn't know what the hell to do.
I think he was surprised, for whatever reason.
Me, too.
I'm going to leave this stuff here, okay? They'll pick that up and bring it?
It was two weeks before Christmas. General Motors was closing the factory...
where the great Flint Sit-down Strike had taken place.
The UAW had promised...
that a massive demonstration would be held on the last day of the factory.
Only four workers showed up to protest the plant closing.
This is my second one I've closed.
It must be my destiny to close all General Motors plants.
It's never pleasant when something like this comes to an end...
but life goes on.
What are you going to do?
Excuse me a minute. Where are you guys from?
We're making a documentary about Flint, Michigan.
-From where? -We're independent.
-We'd like you off the lot. -Why?
Because this is private property. We'd like you not to be here--
We thought it was a significant day here today. The factory's closing....
It is a very significant day.
It's a very sad time, a very private, personal time.
What do you think about General Motors closing up this factory?
This is a very private, emotional, family time.
-We would not let outsiders in the plant. -We're not outsiders. We're from Flint.
You are outsiders. You don't work here.
This community depends on General Motors--
Jerry, this guy, out.
I don't understand why we can't talk to them for a couple minutes.
This is the factory's last hour. What's the problem?
The problem is, we were told to keep you on the sidewalk.
-You're hired by GM to do that? -That's correct. On the sidewalk, please.
Mrs. McGee. There she is. Let me ask her.
Why can't we talk to you if you're the spokesperson?
You can. I'll come outside and talk, but not inside.
I've asked you to leave.
-We'll go, if you come and talk. -I don't think I'll talk to you.
You're the spokesperson, and you won't speak to us.
That's correct. You don't represent anybody.
You're a private interest, and I won't speak to you.
We happen to be citizens of this community.
That's not a private interest.
We're all citizens of the community.
On the sidewalk, please.
The 1,800 hourly workers at this operation were sent home with flowers today.
Even union leaders offered them bleak advice.
One worker told me, "You know when they send you flowers? When you die. "
So, not a very merry Christmas.
In fact, as one man walked out of the plant...
he told me, "l want to wish Roger Smith a merry Christmas."
It was now Christmas Eve in Flint.
After three years of trying to bring Roger here, I was ready to give up.
Deputy Fred had three evictions scheduled for this day.
At the same time, in Detroit...
Roger Smith was beaming his Christmas message...
to every GM factory throughout the world.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I'd like to welcome you to our traditional General Motors Christmas program.
We're trying to clear up all evictions today...
so it won't get into the latter part of Christmas, which is tomorrow.
We don't want to do any tomorrow.
-Because it's Christmas? -Right.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to introduce...
the chairman of General Motors with his annual Christmas message...
Mr. Roger B. Smith.
You know, the thing that strikes me about Christmas...
is that it's such a total experience.
For a few weeks out of our year...
our whole environment is transformed.
There are the lights, of course...
that lift us out of winter's cold and gloom.
This bitch got his money and sent my motherfucking shit out.
They remind us of the warmth of human companionship...
and of the spring that's never far behind.
Try to lay it down. The wind will blow it over if you don't.
We listen for jingle bells in the country.
We smell the pine needles on the trees...
and the turkey on the table.
We even dream of a white Christmas...
in the hope that nature will accommodate our longing for a total experience.
Where are the motherfucking keys?
-That motherfucker got his money. -They're setting us out on the street!
I paid this man his rent. Give me my shit.
...the individual dignity and worth of each human being...
the more fully human each of us will become.
He's got his money! I showed you the paper!
All I owe that man is $150.
Now let me close with an observation...
that I consider by a real leading authority on Christmas:
Charles Dickens. Here's what he said:
"l have always thought of Christmas...
"as a good time..."
Get your goddamn coats on!
"...a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time... "
Set my shit out, and I done paid the bitch!
I only owed the bitch $150, and I was going to give it to her stinking ass.
"...the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year...
"when men and women seem by one consent...
"to open their hearts freely.
"And therefore...
"though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket...
"I believe that it has done me good...
"and will do me good.
"And I say, God bless it! "
Mr. Dickens, I couldn't agree more.
So I say, "God bless Christmas, and God bless all of you."
Thank you for coming.
Thank you, Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith, we came from Flint...
where we filmed a family being evicted from their home...
the day before Christmas Eve. A family that worked in your factory.
Would you be willing to come with us to see the situation in Flint?
I've been to Flint, and I'm sorry for them, but I don't know anything about it.
Families being evicted on Christmas Eve--
General Motors didn't evict them.
-Talk to the landlord-- -They used to work for GM.
-Now they don't work there anymore. -I'm sorry, but....
-Could you come to Flint? -No, I cannot. I'm sorry.
What's Christmas going to be like for you this year?
I get a couple of days off. That's the good part.
I get a chance to rest. But come Tuesday morning, I'll be back.
I failed to bring Roger to Flint.
As we neared the end of the 20th century...
the rich were richer, the poor poorer...
and people everywhere had a lot less lint...
thanks to the lint rollers made in my hometown.
It was truly the dawn of a new era.
If you're espousing a philosophy, which apparently you are...
that the corporation owes employees...
cradle-to-the-grave security, I don't think that can be accomplished...
under a free enterprise system.
Many of us are proud to be here...
and it will continue to be a good place to live and raise a family...
and have a good place to work.
-Where are you going? -I am going to Tel Aviv.
Maybe someday I'll be the Ministress of Tourism.
I mowed the lawn with my shirt off, made my back stiff.
My wife asked me to mow the lawn with my pants off next time.
I'm planning on going back to school in January...
for veterinary assistance, and also for dog grooming...
'cause there's a lot of animals that need taking care of.
It's great to have you guys here.
It's been fun having you around. You see all the craziness that goes on.
If you decide to go for it, you'll make it.
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