"When I was asked to make a short doc on economic inequality, I thought sure this would be easy. Boy, was I wrong. I found out that I understood the feeling of inequality, which is exemplified in the doc by Frans De Waals’ fairness experiment with monkeys. But like most Americans, I conflated the feeling of inequality with the economic definition of inequality, and that was where the confusion came in. My goal with this film was to use my own learning curve as a point of departure to provide some clarity.
What I learned is that economic inequality is essentially a discussion about the gap between the rich and the poor. By comparing wages and salaries it is shocking to realize that most Americans — the working and middles classes — or the bottom 80%, only make a tiny fraction compared to the people at the top. Economists agree that the gap was not always as stark as it is now and that it’s been worsening since the late 1970’s. Economists across the political spectrum also agree on the root causes: technology, globalization, and government policies. They just do not agree on the degree that these root causes impact economic inequality or even if economic inequality matters to the overall health of the economy.
Economists do not deal with judgments or feelings but strictly with metrics and by comparing measurable terms. To understand the economic debates in the media about inequality and the income gap, it is key to make sure that economists are arguing about the same terms otherwise it is like comparing apples with oranges — useless. Now when I watch theses kinds of debates on television, I will be a better judge. My hope is that anyone who watches MONKEY BUSINESS aka ECONOMIC INEQUALITY will too."
Shola Lynch is an award-winning American filmmaker who burst on the scene in 2004 with her feature documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, a first-hand account of the events that thrust Angela Davis into the national spotlight, from a young college professor to a fugitive on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Shola’s first independent feature documentary, Chisholm ‘72 - Unbought and Unbossed, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, aired on PBS’s POV series, and garnered two Independent Spirit Award nominations and a prestigious Peabody Award for excellence. Shola honed her filmmaking skills as a visual researcher and associate producer for Ken Burns and Florentine Films. Her work on the two-part Frank Lloyd Wright documentary and the ten-part JAZZ series inspired her to pursue the craft of storytelling. Since then she has produced and scripted stories that aired on PBS, CNN, HBO Sports, ESPN, TV-ONE, and BET.