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A geolibertarian review of "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward"

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A geolibertarian review of "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward"
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A geo-libertarian review of Zeitgeist: Moving Forward

POSTED APRIL 24, 2012 BY EDWARD B MILLER

by Dan Sullivan,

(Reprinted with permission. Originally published 07 February 2012 at LVT. You can find him at Saving Communities)


                       Green Supercomputer | Argonne National Lab

Two hours and 41 minutes, and it’s just half-truths from beginning to end.

It’s easy to buy into the idea of rich people being obsessed with wealth and acquisition if you don’t actually know any rich people. This is the starting premise of their half-truths.

Then they get into a long digression about genetics vs. environment, partly to set up an “ain’t it awful” mentality, and partly to lull half the audience and to drive the thinking half away. I noticed some very unscientific statements, so I suspect these are not neurobiologists at all, but people picked because they contribute to the point they are eventually going to make.

They completely misinterpret Locke, and then substantially misinterpret Adam Smith. From this they launch into a confused (essentially Marxist) interpretation of money that jumps from point to point as if they were connecting dots, but they overlook the obvious questions of where money came from in the first place.

They make a huge deal about GDP being a poor indicator of well-being, as if everyone in economics didn’t already know that, and [then] they treat *all* increases in GDP as detrimental.

There’s more “ain’t it awful” moaning, in terms of the environment, but no cause and effect. They call our economy an “anti-economy,” but they ignore privilege and complain about competition. They condemn “cost efficiency” without having a clue as to what might distort cost efficiency. Will they suggest taxing the creation of social costs and untaxing labor? I suspect not, since they would not need such a long time to set up such a straightforward idea.

They make a naked assumption about “planned obsolescence,” and “cyclical consumption,” again without a clue as to what causes these. But ain’t it awful? The strategy of dwelling on how awful something is will induce people to buy into a proposal no matter how illogical it is.

Over an hour into the movie and they haven’t suggested a single solution, yet, since they’ve already smeared Locke and Smith, you can bet that their solutions will involve a lot of command and control, and the elimination of private property.

They complain about advertising, just as Marxists did a century ago, and, then as now, without a clue as to why this happens. Then they launch a gratuitous attack on several right-wing economists, including [drum roll] John Maynard Keynes! Is this some other John Maynard Keynes than the one all the right-wingers themselves attack?

They trash money demand, but they have no idea why there is a disconnect between money demand and need. Rather than to get to the bottom of that, they seem to be just into trashing monetary demand generally.

Oh, wait! They are talking about the debt money! Will they propose the direct issue of currency and the elimination of the fractional reserve! That would be so cool, because then very little else (other than land tax) would be necessary.

Nope, now they are on to something else – how evil it is to *trade* debt. They just glossed over the obvious solution that if there were no artificial debt, there would be no trade in artificial debt. Never mind that… more robots!

So let’s get this straight, rich people are acquisitive robots, consumers are robots, and investment traders are robots. So clearly we need more robots!

Oh, now we are off to public health, having talked about banking and a bunch of other things without actually proposing anything. Now we are talking about “inequality.” Will they go to the root, or are they just going to say, “ain’t poverty awful?”

It’s the “Monetary-Market System!” But what does that mean?

Project Earth! Now maybe they are going to talk about a solution! Only 60% into the movie!

“Science has no ego. It holds onto nothing and accepts everything.” (Really? Where did we get these egoless scientists?) But, I smell a solution coming!

“We” locate, identify and track all the resources in the world. “We” identify how fast trees grow, etc., and “track” the inventory of the world’s resources. “A global resource management system.” The ultimate in central planning. “There is simply no alternative.” This is the old left vs. right lie that either “we” must control everything or “they” must control everything, and “they” will screw it up. (That second part is true, no matter whether “they” are the plutocratic monopolists of the right or the bureaucratic monopolists of the left.)

Now they are going to govern how computers are designed. A central computer will tell us “the absolute best method for sustainable production.” They never heard of GIGO, I suppose.

The supercomputer will tell us to reduce the travel of goods as much as possible. Couldn’t a tax on fuels accomplish the same things without centralized coercion? It’s as if we couldn’t have an egalitarian, resource-efficient world without a supercomputer.

I’m sorry; I mean a “demand distribution tracking system” to prevent overages and shortages. But the true progressives knew that there was no such thing as excess production as a long-term phenomenon.

No ownership. “Strategic access” will replace it. “Centralized and regional access centers” will work like libraries. Then they show speedboats and water skiers. So, we will take speedboats out whenever we want and then return them. If only speedboats needed no more care and maintenance than books need.

Global abundance results. No explanation of *how* it results.

“The free enterprise system was great 35 years ago,” they say. No mention of what changed. They throw in some more nonsense about how objective scientists are. (We’re talking about economic science here.) This is exactly what Marx said in 1850. Free enterprise had its place, and we are grateful for the innovations, but now that we have the steam engine, what more is there to invent?

Now they are designing cities as a circle. No credit for Ebeneezer Howard, who designed exactly the same things in 1919. Never mind that Howard’s circles had lots of problems, and never mind that most of the world is not nice and flat. Most of all, never mind that the worst development patterns came on the heels of zoning laws.

Now we have a visage of total mechanization, as if that is somehow an improvement over craftsmanship. Never mind that mechanization consumes far more resources than craftsmanship – not only in the running of robots, but in the building of them. Robots can make robots that make robots that make chairs, consuming fuels and non-renewable resources at every step, or a craftsman can make chairs with hand tools. I guess once they put all the inputs into their supercomputer, they will see that. Or, perhaps not. Both monopoly capitalism and socialism are based on the myth of corporate efficiency, a myth that these people have swallowed.

They will have no money at all! Or so we are told. Centralized planning will tell me whether I would rather eat at a restaurant or go to a movie. I can have unlimited amounts of both! A computer will cook for me (exactly the way I like it), and make my life wonderful in every way. Obesity anyone?

Their example of “sustainable” automation shows a factory stamping out big plastic containers. If someone could make clues out of plastic, maybe they could buy one.

Next they trash incentives, as if the problem were that people were naturally rewarded for their efforts. Money is only a reward for “competitive mundane actions” that their supercomputer would replace. Yet I have done many jobs that, while not in the league of Thomas Edison, were quite creatively pursued, and I did them because they earned money.

The Wright brothers never showed a monetary incentive? They ran a bicycle shop for profit, and their interest in flight grew out of their professional and *profitable* business, making (and motorizing) profit.

Having not solved so many other problems, they are now not solving crime. What can’t they do?

They show really obnoxious Archie Bunker types calling these ideas Marxism, but it is more exactly and precisely Marxist than anything I have ever seen, outside of the tracts that had Marxism right on the header. They make the point that Marx hadn’t contemplated the reality of limited resources, but this is a trivial detail. The solution of abolishing profit, abolishing monetary choices, and ultimately abolishing labor, is right out of Marx. So far, I haven’t seen a word in their proposal that doesn’t fit into the phrase, “We must control the means of production.”

They condemn printing money with no collateral, which is exactly the right thing to do. Ain’t it awful, we’re running out of oil! Well, we are running out, and it is awful, but they are clueless about what to do about it – other than that they must control everything. Wouldn’t a stiff oil extraction royalty and a cut in income taxes let me make my own choices as to how I would use less oil?

There is no profit in resource efficiency. Well, why not? No clue. It’s just too awful to consider any approach less than complete centralized planning and the end of profit itself. So terribly awful.

As we drift into the last 15 minutes of the film, the “explosions of awfulness” increase in rapidity like the grand finale of a fireworks display. It’s an all-out “us vs. them” revolt of the masses. Then, magically, everyone has a love-fest and the rich withdraw all their money and throw it away in contempt.

Flash to the vision of utopia, orgasm and close. Their final lines are “This is our world. The revolution is now.” Yet they seem to have no clue what “This is our world” really means, and certainly no clue that we could each enjoy the world without some dictatorship of the super-computer telling us what our allotment is.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

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