I like Dissent

I like dissenting views, even if I disagree with them, because they provoke thought. They also take a lot of courage to voice, and I respect that. And too, sometimes amidst all the noise there is even a gem or two of truth.

Zeitgeist - The Movie, 2007 is a rather odd duck. I ran into the link while on one of my wikipedia explorations, which for some reason veered off into "tax protesters" and "the federal reserve", which dovetails nicely with some of my recent reading on Alan Greenspan.

Anyway, this movie is a rather odd duck because, although it makes some rather far-reaching claims, I would be hard-pressed to describe an overarching theme. This is a movie dedicated to describing an enormous pile of shit, but spends little time describing the shovel.

So, the pile of shit has specifically to do with the nature of Christianity, the nature of the federal income tax and the federal reserve, and 9/11. The common thread seems to be intentional concentration of power into the hands of a few that is leading to unwitting servitude of the many. Although really the 9/11 datapoint doesn't quite follow this pattern. Indeed, the crux of the last argument is that a few guys living in caves couldn't *possibly* outsmart the US and NORAD.

(Other movies that are related, like America: Freedom to Fascism, offer a few more datapoints like the fact that every war of the 20th century was started for profit, and that the public school system is designed to keep our children stupid. But I digress.)

So the first part of the movie launches into a description of how the details Christian story isn't all that unique. To me, this fact is interesting but hardly an eye-opener. I though it was well-known that religions borrow from each other all the time. And besides, in my view the interesting part of a religion aren't the rites and rituals, but the underlying essence of the thing. But the movie treats these revelations as somehow damning, which frankly I don't get. It's true that atrocities have been commited in the name of Christianity, a lot of them, but atrocities have been committed in the name of peace, and in the name of science, and in the name of virtually everything. Power hungry psychotics aren't really that discriminating when it comes to their rationalizations.

I was very interested in what they had to say about the Fed. I'm not quite sure I understand all of the arguments, but I think the basic assertion is that the Fed releases more money into the world, and that money is only lent (at interest) to large banks. Since the interest can only be paid back with other money, the Fed is always collecting interest on the sum total of all cash flowing around the system, and is therefore printing up debt.

I have to admit that this seems very strange to me, but I'm not prepared to say that this is wrong. I've always wondered about how money works - I mean, if money represents "wealth" what happens when more wealth is created? If no money is printed, then deflation results, which is bad for people who have to pay back loans (but good for people who save). If too much money is printed, then inflation results which is bad for people who save but good for those who borrow. And there are other effects relating to GDP and unemployment that I don't entirely understand.

What's not clear to me is how a gold standard would solve any of this. I guess it would all work out if the rate at which gold is produced is roughly proportional to the amount of other wealth produced by society. However, it seems like the Fed has been able to stabalize the economy. However, one of the assertions of this movie is that the Great Depression was engineered (and only made possible by) the central bank.

I'm extremely wary of this hypothesis, but I think it's possible. The motive given is that, by forcing money out of the markets, those with liquid assets were able to buy up failed enterprises for pennies on the dollar, further consolidating power and money. This is possible from powerful, stupid men who want a large slice of a shrinking pie (there are plenty of short-sighted dictators able and willing to demonstrate this reasoning). Wiser men would want a nice slice of a huge pie, which in the end would constitute more wealth, if not more power.

I'll have to continue this post later...

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