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Zeitgeist: The Movie - Full, Final version

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Jon Irenicus Posted: Sat, Jun 7 2008 7:01 PM

Anyone seen this? Seems a bit conspiratoid, but I haven't watched it yet.

-Jon

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Seen it. When I watched part one I thought it was excellent. It sadly descends into a farce.  I disagree with the film and personally think the reptilian humanoids are behind it all: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Icke#Reptilian_humanoids"

Austrians do it a priori

Irish Liberty Forum 

 

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I've downloaded the movie and I liked the 1st part. Then, it starts talking about 9/11 "Loose Change" BS. I may have not given it a fair shot to the last, monetary part, but it seemed anti-semitic propaganda from a little I watched. I would not recommend it to anyone.

Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. -- F. A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty

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By the way, they have some website where you can download it. You probably want to do that because it is 2 hours long... Anyway, a link that might interest you -- an interface to download videos from youtube or google-video: http://keepvid.com/ . You just have to rename the filename to "video-name.mp4"... But I'm sure the quality will be better if you google for the video website and download the original there.

Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. -- F. A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty

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 This and Freedom to Faschism just help the media in claiming Libertarians are conspiracy theorists. " It's not a law that I have to pay taxes lol lol lol lol" Why would the government not make it law? It is the stupidest arguement I have ever heard. Just stick with the taxation is theft line. kthxbye

 "The plans differ; the planners are all alike"

-Bastiat

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Bostwick replied on Sat, Jun 7 2008 10:41 PM

Anyone notice there is an entire "anarchist" movement devoited to bringing as much of society under the umbrella of state's guilt as possible?

I wonder where the former marxists will turn to next after market anarchism out lives its usefulness for society buidling.

 

 

 

Peace

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Part I was really well done.  It blew my mind.  Much I knew, but much was new.  Great information in a concise form.

Part II and III were ok.

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Quote from BlackSheep:
I've downloaded the movie and I liked the 1st part. Then, it starts talking about 9/11 "Loose Change" BS. I may have not given it a fair shot to the last, monetary part, but it seemed anti-semitic propaganda from a little I watched. I would not recommend it to anyone.

You should have watched the whole movie before making a criticism.  Actually, the first part of the movie is more a matter of opinions, however the second part document actual facts about 9/11.  The third part is also well documented.  I recommend this movie to everyone - I am also considering adding a link to the YouTube link to all my business emails.  You see, I am self employed, so my boss and I always agree.

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JonBostwick:

Anyone notice there is an entire "anarchist" movement devoited to bringing as much of society under the umbrella of state's guilt as possible?

I wonder where the former marxists will turn to next after market anarchism out lives its usefulness for society buidling.

I wasn't aware of this, could you elaborate?

"Look at me, I'm quoting another user to show how wrong I think they are, out of arrogance of my own position. Wait, this is my own quote, oh shi-" ~ Nitroadict

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I did some research and found that Part 1 was actually full of a lot of speculation, and speculation that while interesting, is misleading. Mises warned against a conspiratorial view of history for a reason. Check their sources.

This is apparently a Man Talk Forum:  No Women Allowed!

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Yes I've seen Zeitgeist and I thought it was pretty good.  As I understand it, it was meant to encourage people to think critically about the institutions we take for granted.  It certainly has the potential to do that but it errs a bit on the side of paranoia and includes a lot which people may find offensive.

Part I was interesting.  It had the potential to cause offense but it seems like it was worth putting out there.  Part II, I could have done without.  I don't think the government is competent enough to have pulled of 9/11 and even if it were, it's largely inconsequential regarding my beliefes about what public policy should be.  Part III was the most important part but it was a bit to much on the side of paranoia I felt.

 

The sequal came out last Friday - Zeitgeist: Addendum.  It goes deeper into the monetary and banking system as well as the role of "economic hit-men" in the American Empire; all of which should have been included in the first movie.  The second half then starts to propose "solutions" which caused me to lose a great deal of respect for the producers of this film.  They propose The Venus Project, which appears to me to be the product of watching too much Star Trek.  They describe a world without "scarcity" and claim that because of our new technological abilities scarcity only appears to exist because of money.  They say things like this "resource based economy" will free the common man from the drudgery of trying to survive in a capitalist monetary system and then procede to insult the viewers intellegence by claiming that nothing like this has ever been proposed before.  It's rediculous and as much reminiscent of the description of socialist proponents in The Road to Serfdom as anything happening in the mainstream today.  Of course, I don't have to tell most of you that do I.

At any rate, while I doubt this is new to anyone here I still suggest people watch it.  They suggest that people go to www.thezeitgeistmovement.com to organize.  The site isn't up yet but I hope it has a forum like this one.  At least that would provide an opportunity for me to point out the absurdities of what is proposed in The Venus Project.

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Telpeurion:

I did some research and found that Part 1 was actually full of a lot of speculation, and speculation that while interesting, is misleading. Mises warned against a conspiratorial view of history for a reason. Check their sources.

If it was my choice, I would remove the first part entirely.  I would create the movie with part 2 & 3 only.

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Jon Irenicus:

Anyone seen this? Seems a bit conspiratoid, but I haven't watched it yet.

-Jon

I have not watched it yet though I have a DVD right in front of me.   But I should since I am cat-sitting for the filmakers brother and his wife now.

 

http://www.comebackalive.com/phpBB2 Travel, Adventure Travel, Arguments, Recipes.

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LancierDombre:
They propose The Venus Project, which appears to me to be the product of watching too much Star Trek.  They describe a world without "scarcity" and claim that because of our new technological abilities scarcity only appears to exist because of money.

ahah. This idea seems to be spreading faster and faster. I've heard my share of this non-sense and absurdity in a talk in labor's day. But I think, while pretty much all of these people seem to live in their own reality, their view of the world is not destitute of merit. Less and less labor is needed to produce goods, and that is true of capital goods as well. More and more people are taking full years just to travel, out of a few months of work. There are a lot of government policies, like the typical protective agriculture ones very regressive in nature, that have a big impact in the price of necessities, without which we would probably see a move to a society whose greatest part of the time would be spent on leisure, not laboring.

Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. -- F. A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty

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It is really a shame. This film started out so well talking about the bs that is the Fed. It even had a clip of Ron Paul! I was actually on board. Untill the same old same old set in. Capitalism is bad, corporations suck blah blah blah. Blaming capitalism for the evils done to people by government action. People seem to confuse corporatism, and state capitalism, with free market capitalism. It is the same old song and dance that I have heard over and over again.  And the proposed "Venus Project" is complete fucking nonsense. I actually laughed out loud when the movements founder lumped fascism, communism, socialism and free enterprise as one in the same. People really need to read and understand the Austrian theory of monetary and business cycles. All in all i gave it a reluctant 2 out of 5 stars. The opening 15-20 minutes was good and the "economic hit-men" was interesting as well. I would like to see the sources used though. I never take crap like this on face value. Mises did warn of a conspiratorial view of history; putting together pieces that aren't there. And hindsight is always 20/20. But for its explaination of Fed monetary policy I reccommend the first 20 minutes of this film. Same with the first Zeitgeist film a lot of speculation not much else.

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Seen it, liked it, agreed with most. The smoking gun for me is the angular cut steel columns with molten metal around the cut. That part is just eerie.

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pedward replied on Tue, Oct 21 2008 6:25 AM

Me too. Regarding the assertions about a a resource based system, I do agree that our current economic systems including capitalism have a propensity to cause duplication of effort, corruption, activities that benefit one-self but have adverse and unknown (but real) negative impact on the rest of the economy.  I find some of the motivations behind what they call a resource based economy to have merit, such as the idea that we actually do have enough resources and advancement in technology to be able to take care of basic needs for everybody with minimum human labor if collective interests where prioritized and not everything has to be justified with personal short-term gain.  The interesting thing is that with more benevolent actions, in the long term, personal gains will also be maximized anyway.  But with the current systems its hard to have any faith in that idea because most people are worried (and not unjustifiably so) that if they are the only ones to act benevolent, they will just be abused by other more selfish persons and any grand goals that drove their benevolent actions will anyway be sabotaged by the more selfish.

Lets take the environment as an example.  I think most people have the notion that if everybody completely selfishly abuses the environment to save costs, in the long term each person individually will loose because holiday resorts will not be what they used to be, they will suffer from toxins, the world will look less nice, the air will feel worse, and costs required to make the environment habitable (such as air-cons, heating, dams etc..) will increase.  If an environmentally conscious company's bottom line will be negatively affected by being more green, they may feel that they are giving up a competitive advantage by acting environmentally responsible if they feel that many (or most) other companies will not follow.  Same applies for consumers.  One can buy environmentally friendly products which might cost more.  Many who have an interest may be put off by the idea that their action alone will not solve the problem.  We have here a case of lack of trust and lack of social and collective consciousness.

So whilst I can easily imagine that in terms of resources and technology, the resource based economy mentioned in Zeitgeist/Venus project is feasible, the challenge lies in our social development and social character.  Already in the world as it stands right now, one can see differences in social coherence and character between different countries, cities and communities; sometimes vast differences.  Hence I believe it is possible for us to improve things and I agree with the film that we should be managing human behavior rather than feeling limited by some notion of human nature.  The task at hand I believe is to raise awareness and take actions that will increase social maturity and trust.  People may or may not believe in the resource based economy.  Likewise people may or may not object to claims that Zeitgeist makes about religion or other topics.  I think if we increase social maturity (the exact opposite of what leads to economic empires and "hitmen"), even our current capitalist (or other monetary) systems will work a lot better and suffer a lot less of corruption and so on.  What was said very well in the film I thought was that we need to understand that we are an organism as a whole, all people together on the earth.  If the heart fails, so will the brain.  Capitalism though, may tend to promote behaviors where the heart competes (even with using dirty tricks if needed against the brain) - so I understand where Zeitgeist is coming from, that maybe the current economic systems make it very hard for us to mature socially.

Capitalism assumes the sum of the parts is equal to the whole, but this is simply not the case.  If each part is doing the best for itself in selfishness, the whole does not get whats best for it and in turn, the parts don't either.  We may be at a point in time where we are technologically able and sociologically needing to change to a real new system.  How exactly that looks I'm not sure, but I'm open to the resource based economy as a potential starting point for a blue-print of the future.  Most importantly though, I think as a strategic objective we need to mature social coherence to help us reach whatever future economic system we choose to build.

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scineram replied on Tue, Oct 21 2008 6:52 AM

I would love to know how to come up with the best for the whole.

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pedward replied on Tue, Oct 21 2008 7:41 AM

One of the first steps may be to work to increase the amount of people who realize and clearly understand that we would actually be better of this way (in a best for the whole situation as you say) and inspire people to start thinking of the possibilities - really want it.

Other challenge might be: people think to themselves "ok, I want it, but am I the only one? How can I and the few others change the world?"  So in parallel when raising awareness (or having discussions) that "best for the whole" is a good thing, we should raise awareness that there are other (hopefully with time increasingly many) out there who believe this.  This will give people confidence to trust it is possible and worth it to take action (act more environmentally friendly, don't sacrifice the greater development in a cut-throat manner for ones own profitability etc..) and take risks.  As long as the number of people who believe in this increases and as long as the behaviors of people move towards the greater good, we will be moving towards a "best for the whole" situation and we will enjoy increasing rewards during this change (i.e. we don't need to wait for us to exactly reach some vision of utopia to benefit from this).

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By churning out cute buzzwords and silly analogies, of course.

-Jon

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Solomon replied on Tue, Oct 21 2008 12:41 PM

pedward:
Capitalism assumes the sum of the parts is equal to the whole, but this is simply not the case. 

Actually, the underlying assumption is that the whole does not exist, and hence should not factor into rational judgment.

Edit: Rather, it cannot factor into rational judgment, as including it would make one's judgment irrational.

Diminishing Marginal Utility - IT'S THE LAW!

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pedward replied on Tue, Oct 21 2008 1:32 PM

ok..

Then I'd say that these assumption are incorrect:

  • that the whole does not exist
  • factoring in any notion of a whole makes one's judgement irrational

..for the same reason that a sports team with players that work well with each other will have a higher scoring average across their players than a sports team with players who's only objective is to increase their own personal score count (even at the cost of their team member's opportunities).  And in real life, you can easily end up in situations where the "highest scorer" of a society whose individuals aim simply to be better than each other no matter the costs to the overall society is worse off than the "lowest scorer" of a society whose individuals leverage each other's efforts and don't perform any (or minimal) destructive activities against each other to out-do each other.

Tackling the question of how to get to a best-for-whole situation from a different and parallel angle: concerning those people whose compulsion to control others is stronger than their desire for material wealth (I say this because these people already have more than enough money and they too would benefit from a more advanced society) and who are in a position to achieve such control over others but in manners that greatly harm the "whole", what does one do?  According to Zeitgeist, some of the key players within this group are major stakeholders of the banks that run the Fed and in general terms the banking industry.  If the mechanism by which these players steal wealth from the rest of the population is by creating currency "out of thin air" every time a loan is created through the fractional reserve banking practice, would a strong effort by the general public to stop taking loans from banks help in any way?  Of course easier said than done for different people.  But awareness that the banking system is working against the "whole" whenever a loan is taken may help too...?

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While I admire the ideas put forth in the Venus Project, I do not support its implementation via the state.  I would bet that if government didn't get in the way of the market, many of the ideas of the Venus Project would have already been implemented.

However, on the Resource Based Economy, when it boils down to it, everything is a resource, and resources are scarce.  I don't think the Resourced Based Economy folks understand Economics, let alone Austrian Economics.  From my understanding of the film, they are attempting to manipulate the market, as opposed to let the market run its course.

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I thought the first movie was okay. The first part, about Christianity being false, didn't really affect me one way or the other, as I'm not religious anyhow. The second part was a mediocre overview of the great body of evidence that 9/11 was an event orchestrated by insiders. The third part was a a decidedly lackluster expose of the fraudulent monetary system, particularly in comparison to the job the late Aaron Russo did in "America: Freedom to Fascism;" a movie which I would recommend one see instead of Zeitgeist.

I haven't seen the new one, "Zeitgeist Addendum," but I have G. Eward Griffin's critique of it, and he describes it as a full-on collectivist propaganda piece, offering false solutions to genuine problems. Others have suggested that it screams out "controlled opposition;" as if someone is intentionally trying to lead potential libertarian-minded freedom advocates (such as newbies arriving via the Ron Paul movement) down the path of futility.

My intuition tells me that it's more likely that the Zeitgeist producers are people who are genuinely ignorant enough to believe in a "post-scarcity" world, where everyone can be melded into a new, friendly form of communist collective, without resorting to the same absolute despotism that is the logical conclusion of all collectivist utopias.

"The only idea they have ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this–that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot."
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banned replied on Tue, Oct 21 2008 9:52 PM

pedward:
..for the same reason that a sports team with players that work well with each other will have a higher scoring average across their players than a sports team with players who's only objective is to increase their own personal score count (even at the cost of their team member's opportunities).

False analogy, there is a commonly desired outcome on a sports team: to win. In a market there is no one commonly desired outcome. The market is a mingling of various preferences.

pedward:
And in real life, you can easily end up in situations where the "highest scorer" of a society whose individuals aim simply to be better than each other no matter the costs to the overall society is worse off than the "lowest scorer" of a society whose individuals leverage each other's efforts and don't perform any (or minimal) destructive activities against each other to out-do each other.

Destructive activities? You're not "out-doing" someone by destroying their stuff, your simply making them worse off. Out-doing someone involves generating MORE of some thing than what the other person has.

 

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I agree entirely with Mr. Griffin regarding Zeitgeist Addendum.

The first movie, Zeitgeist, is much better than its Addendum.  The first part of the first movie is more a matter of opinions.  The second part documents actual facts about 9/11.  The third part gives a brief overview about the Federal Reserve.   If I had to recommend the first movie, I would recommend only the second and third part.

After reading Mr. Griffin’s comment, I decided to watch the third part again at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-594683847743189197).  My only criticism about the first movie is the narration put a lot of emphasis on loaning money at interest, implicitly suggesting collecting interests is a bad thing.  There is nothing wrong with charging interest on a loan; the problem is the creation of fiat money.  Charging interests on money created out of thin air simply adds insult to the injury.  I like how Mr. Griffin defines usury: any interest on any loan of fiat money (The Creature from Jekyll Island audio @ 71 minutes).

The root of the problem is creating money out nothing.  Therefore, we can call the FED an institution loaning counterfeit money.

By the way, people advocating Social Credit do not mind borrowing counterfeited money.  Those people want to receive money (through a loan) without paying any interests, therefore stealing from the savers through inflation.  Social Crediters love legal plunder; they just tailored plunder to fit their lifestyles. Since most of Social Crediters are in debt and wish to consume more, they come up with a new scheme of borrowing without limit.  The problem is they are borrowing fiat money, thus diluting the purchasing power of savings and taxing others through inflation.  Also, without interest, they wish to pay the loan back in with a debased currency.

 

Now, my review about Zeitgeist: Addendum at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7065205277695921912.  I will do my best to give the fact and point the fallacy where I found one.

@22 minutes: The movie praises the Greenbacks as interest-free money.  Although this may be correct, it is still plunder.  Government creating money out of this air is no different than what the FED is doing today.  When government creates money, the politicians are plundering the population as opposed to a central bank.  I see no difference at all.  In my opinion, I would rather have the FED creating money, because politicians are on a 4-year election cycle.  Politicians are very short sighted, and likely to print excessive money to get re-elected, thus destroying the whole economy.  The FED also wants to maximize plunder, however they know they will be getting more by plundering a small percentage on a large successful economy, than by trying to get the lion’s share of the economy.  The plunder strategy is maintaining a constant target for inflation.

@25 minutes: The movie praises the dictators as leaders for “their people”.  Those ruthless tyrants are nothing less than criminals.  By the way, if the US Government was unable to bribe those leaders, it is because those leaders owned the resources.  Remember a bribe must always be lower than its market value, otherwise offering a bribe offers no benefits.  For instance, you cannot bribe the owner of a store because he will prefer to sell his assets.  You can only bribe a politician or a bureaucrat because he does not really own the resource, and therefore he can make an extra accepting the bribe.  In the case of the dictators, they practically own the country, therefore receiving a bribe in exchange of the resources gives little value.  The movie attempt to make heroes of those tyrants refusing accepting bribes.

Later, the movie talk about how rich countries loan money to poor countries to keep them in debt, and those debts forces the country to give away its resources.  Public debt is non-binding.  It should simply be ignored.  Those who invested in government plunder should suffer the losses, not the innocent citizens.

@40 minutes: This part talks about the bad things of globalization, forgetting that globalization is an extension of the division of labor.  The movie assumes the country is one entity, like an individual.  A country is a group of individuals living in a geographical area, however individuals may have different opinion.  This collectivism approach claiming that a “country decides” about such or such is an incorrect logic.

@43 minutes: Environmental destruction.  The narrator forgot to mention the environmental destruction always occurs on “public property”.  Private property is the best mechanism to protect the environment, because polluting your property will destroy its value. 

@46 minutes: The narrator mentions that competition is a bad thing.  The idea behind communism was protecting the workers against competition.  Competition is freedom.  It is also the endeavor towards excellence.

@47 minutes: “We no longer live in a world of Nations and Ideologies”.  Nation Building and Ideologies is socialism. I am advocating individualism, not Nations.

@48 minutes: Inequality.  Well, inequality and justice are opposite.  It is unfair to have everyone equal, as some individuals work more and produce more.  A doctor should earn more than a welfare recipient.

@53 minutes: The movie put emphasis on undemocratic corporations, as if democracy is a goal in itself.  The free market is the best way for people to vote their wishes – with their wallet.  Businesses take your money only with your consent, and give you something valuable in exchange.  On the other hand politicians take your money by force.

@56 minutes: The movie mentions the problem of self-preservation.  The tenet of communism is to sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the community.  A man who is acting in his own self-interest neither makes sacrifices nor demands that other sacrifice for him.  The opposite of self-interest is sacrifice which is always wrong because it’s destructive of human life (The virtue of Selfishness, Chapter 1 – The Objectivist Ethics, by Ayn Rand).  Altruism makes hypocrisy necessary in order to live. (The Market For Liberty @ page 9-14, Tannehill).

A business in a free market economy must offer something of value to consumers in order to survive.  Government self-preservation is only by coercion and plunder.  There a big difference!  The problem is not about self-preservation, buy how self-preservation is achieved.

@59 minutes: Industries do not care for our people because they are outsourcing jobs [to pour countries].  This is called collectivism.  There is no such thing as “our people” or “our jobs”.  People don’t belong to someone else.  And jobs don’t belong to a group of people.  Individuals have the right to contract to whatever wish.  The statement of outsourcing is also contradictory, because it means that industries care about the poorest.  After all, the industries outsourcing jobs are creating jobs in third world countries.  For those who are really concerned with third world poverty, they should cheer outsourcing.

@1h: The movie says competition leads to corruption.  This is completely false. Competition is freedom to produce and trade without coercion.  Corruption ONLY occurs within the framework of government, where corporations seek special privileges from the government, such as subsidies and/or regulations to harm their competitors.  If government was non-existent, there would be NO corruption.  Of course, corporations competing for government handouts always lead to corruption.

The movie says competition leads to a government dictatorship.  Dictatorship is just the opposite of competition, because the dictator imposes his will on the population.  This movie is full of contradictions.

@1h 2 minutes: The movie says profits are the motive for downsizing corporation.  This is my favorite.  If downsizing makes a corporation more profitable, then upsizing (hiring more employees) should make the corporation less profitable.  Why do you think corporation hire people?  To reduce their profits, or to increase their profits?  To my best knowledge, a corporation cannot have a negative number of employees, meaning that every employee being laid off during downsizing was once hired to increase profits.  The reason corporations downsize is because of external changes, such as market conditions or the excessive costs of employment benefits.

@1h 2 minutes:  The movie claims the world’s problems are because we have a selfish mentality.  I can see this coming… and the solution is of course, eliminate your selfish behavior and serve the community.  Wait, this is exactly communism, just under a different name.   The collectivism ideology is the rights of the individual are not important; what is important is the goal of the community... of course controlled by the elite... and at gunpoint.  The elite running the community is not selfish… they just live in castles and are among the wealthiest people on earth by stealing from the population.

@1h 5 minutes:  The movie claims it is technology that solves problems...  I thought technology and automation are synonymous.  Was automation unethical just 6 minutes ago?  Technology plays a great role to solve problems, and technology comes from R&D which requires genuine capital.  No socialist country ever developed any useful technology.  Every piece of technology you love you owe to capitalism.

@1h 7 minutes: technology frees humans from chores.  This is called automation, which was bashed 8 minutes ago.  By the way, technology requires specialization, and specialization is what we called division of labor.  For division of labor to function effectively, there is a need of a medium of exchange: money.

@1h 9 minutes:  The movie claims that profits make electronic equipment obsolete in 3 months.  Well, if electronic equipment is obsolete in 3 months, it means technology has improved so much during the 3 month period, that it is more cost-effective to buy a new one than keeping the old one at no cost.  Notice the word “obsolete” was used.  This is a big difference from something "obsolete" and something "broken".  I would have far more respect for this movie if the movie said “things are broken after 3 months” to increase profits.

@1h 9 minutes: The movie claims that scarcity increases profits.  This is true according the law of supply and demand.  However, there is always competition offset scarcity.  Competing businesses want to maximize their profits, thus having an incentive to produce more.  This is rather strange, considering other socialist literature blame overproduction and dumping as a mean to increase profits.  Socialists are self-contradictory.  A socialist will prefer to sacrifice reason and logic to pursue a flawed ideology – to blame the free market (read Mises).  This reminds me the following from the book entitled “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” at page 144 written by Schumpeter:

Two seemingly contradictory charges are now rife: (a) that capitalism is not "growing" fast enough, and (b) that the trouble with capitalism is that it makes us too "affluent."  Excess wealth has suddenly replaced poverty as the tragic flaw of capitalism.

@1h 12 minutes:  The movie claims there is no "human nature".  Well, perhaps the producer should listen and/or read to Rothbard’s great book “The Ethics of Liberty”, Chapter 2 named “Natural Law and as Science”.

@1h 12 minutes:  The movie claims we need to a re-design of our society and values.  This is scary.  Such social engineering the slogan behind the bloody communism.  Who decides what society should be and, what values we must adopt?

@1h 14 minutes: The movie claims we need money because we assume scarcity.  Well, we live in a world of scarcity.  This is reality.  And as long as there will be scarcity, we will need money to allocate resources, because money is a measure of scarcity.   By the way, communism was also denying scarcity, and promising abundance to everyone.  We all know communism created nothing less than mass misery.

@1h 14 minutes: The movie claims we can create a society with such abundance that we can consume without a price tag.  The idea of consuming without producing anything is GREED.  People usually want money to buy stuff.  This is why people work hard to earn money, not for the money itself, but to exchange their money for goods and services.  Greedy people want to spend their money, and bypassing money will not remove the desire of consuming without a price tag.  Who do you think will join the Venus Project?  Those who dream of living a big lifestyle without doing any work.

@1h 16 minutes:  The movie claims the following: if there is a problem in society and cannot be solved with money, than it won't be solved.  This is true, and for a good reason.  If nobody wants to spend money on this "problem", it means there are more urgent problems to solve.  For instance, the "problem" of sending a man on Mars may be a "real" problem to some, however if there is not enough funds for making it happen, it means the "problem" is not that severe.  People spend their money to satisfy their most urgent needs.

@1h 16 minutes:  The movie claims it can create abundance.  That was also the slogan for communism.  In theory, communism would create a classless society of abundance and freedom, in which all people enjoy equal social and economic status.

According to Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution, trans. by R. Strunsky (London, 1925), p. 256:

In the socialist society "the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.”

The socialist paradise will be the kingdom of perfection, populated by completely happy supermen. All socialist literature is full of such nonsense. But it is just this nonsense that wins it the most supporters.

@1h 28 minutes:  Crime and poverty.  Criminality is proportional to the size of government.  First, the government creates poverty by confiscating resources from the working man and spend it (read waste it) towards politically elected elite.  For the common man, the role of the government is to redistribute wealth, making everyone equal.  When a citizens sees himself poorer than the others, then he concludes he has not has not received enough of his share of the loot, thus making justice for himself by stealing.  To help alleviate poverty, we need a sound monetary system, eliminating taxes, and removing government regulations and red tape.

@1h 31 minutes: The movie claims war is a result of scarcity.  This is false.  War is profitable only with the help of government which is backed by the taxpayers.  A war would never be profitable on free market because the cost of paying the war along with the losses caused by destruction would outweigh the value of the remaining loot.

@1h 32 minutes:  The movie praises the idea of working on a common good for mankind.  That sounds like communism.  By the way, what is a "common good"?  Who decides?  And if one thinks differently, what type of punishment will he receives?  If history repeats itself, such punishment is likely to be prison, torture and death.

@1h 46 minutes:  The movie says “It is time to claim our Unity and create a society where everyone is taken care of”.  Sounds like the communist motto "for each according to his needs".  Uniting people based on an ideology is a bad idea. The reality is we are united because of we need each other to enhance the quality of our lives.  Nobody is an island, and specialization makes it worth trading with others.  Also, what happens to those who do not share the Unity ideology?  Perhaps the same fate as those who opposes communism…

@1h 56 minutes:  The movie suggests declaring all natural resources are common heritage for the people.  Sounds like plunder to me.  What about the respect of private property?  Oh, wait, there is no such thing under a collectivist environment.

The Venus Utopia will never exist.  First, the Venus Project will require billions of dollars just for its construction.  This is probably why the movie producer blames money as the problem for scarcity… however it is because of scarcity we have money, so we can allocate resources rationally.   Also, the Venus Project also attract the laziest people eager to live in abundance without working  Greedy individuals, crippled with debt, will find it convenient to join the Utopia to consume without restrictions and engage in reckless spending.  Who will then do the work and/or pay the actual bills?

There is no way such "Resource Based Economy" can function without the backing of taxpayers!

I realize my movie review is quite a long.  For the reasons above, I would NOT recommend Zeitgeist Addendum at all.  Perhaps the Zeitgeist producers have good intentions, however good intentions don't cut it.   A friendly form of communism is an oxymoron.

Nobody is an island, and we all need each other.  With specialization, we can all increase our well-being by trading with others.  Money is the medium enabling such specialization. Money is the essence of civilization.

Sincerely,
-- Daniel Morin
514-616-3455

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jhr replied on Tue, Oct 21 2008 11:57 PM

Only listened to the first half disinterested as being a summary of banking ...

What caught my attention was Bayer's wrongful conduct being inherent in the 'capitalistic'/'monetary' system, rather than a breakdown in justice.

However, here's the clencher for me...

@1hr 12mins 13 secs

"War, poverty, corruption,  hunger, misery, human suffering will not change in a monetary system. That is there'll be very little significant change. It is going to take the redesign of our culture, our values, and it has to be the related to the [caring/carrying] capacity of the Earth. Not some human opinion or some politician's notions of the way the world ought to be or some religious notions of the conduct of human affairs."

 

In one sentence he says the "new" world should NOT be shaped by the opinions or notions of man, but apparently the venus project is factually based projections of Utopia.

[caring/carrying] I'm hoping he said carrying capacity of the Earth because at least carrying capacity seems like a factual figure.

How many times in distant history have we had peak oil scares? Limitations of farm production? The guy who quit the patent office because there was nothing left to patent?

 

 

The movie attempt to make heroes of those tyrants refusing accepting bribes.

I like this article's case for bribes: http://mises.org/story/2578

"In the case of bribes, therefore, there is nothing illegitimate about the briber, but there is much that is illegitimate about the bribee, the taker of the bribe."

 

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pedward replied on Wed, Oct 22 2008 4:11 AM

Daniel Morin:
Nobody is an island, and we all need each other.  With specialization, we can all increase our well-being by trading with others.  Money is the medium enabling such specialization. Money is the essence of civilization.

Great review and points about the Venus Project.

Regarding the bribes, I don't think the store owner analogy quite applies.  The "bribe" in these cases is just one side of the coin, the other being blackmail - with death or being overthrown as the threat.  I think a closer analogy would be that a store owner is told to accept a bribe (of less value than their store) or get killed or kicked out onto the street.  Also, in many of those cases the leader was democratically elected.  The act of refusing a bribe and risking their own death or being overthrown makes a pretty clear statement that their intentions were for the people, definitely more so than the blackmailers.  I can't say that is the case in every instance, but at least the cases shown in Zeitgeist Addendum.

It was mentioned in this thread that Zeitgeist presented real problems with unsuitable solutions.  Thats kind of where I'm leaning towards at the moment too.  I do recommend the movies because they raise awareness about some of the problems, and whilst they may not be without logical errors or inconsistencies and may not present ripe (or necessarily even correctly directed) solutions, they are creating discussions about the problems and that increases people's understandings.

I'm curious about the idea that problems such as corruption, harmful selfish behaviors (that for example destroy the environment and hence will harm each individual within the whole) can be addressed by fixing our current economic systems rather than some radical re-invention.  I find it insane that huge military budgets are being spent on destruction of people and assets for the short term benefit of a select few.  Meanwhile such funds could be used for actual good, to really help third world countries come of their own and eventually feed back and enrich the world economy.  You say that the biggest need should be prioritized.  Need is a subjective thing.  In this case we have those select few who exploit using wars who believe they have a need to reap monetary (and who knows what else) rewards from the wars.  At the same time we have the victims of the wars who have a need to live (fancy that) and not have their homes and families destroyed.  We have a need of those who could make good use of the money that is currently spent on war to develop themselves opportunities and improved well-being.  Who's NEEDs here count?  If there could be any way of speaking on behalf of the whole world, I'd say that money spent on destruction through war and the profit of a few has a net detrimental effect on the world economy than if that destruction were not to occur, and furthermore that money would be spent on helping the less fortunate in an effective manner so that they can contribute at a later stage to the world economy.

But its not the world's "net" need that makes the decision, its the need of those who control the money/resources, either by direct ownership or by controlling laws that allow them influence of their use.  Zeitgeist seems to think that in a profit based economy, such disparities of power and such abuses of power are inevitable.  I'm not sure if thats right, I think the answer is more a sociological one than necessarily an economic one.  I've seen that different places have different levels of blinkered "cut-throatiness" from company to company, country to country etc..  At its best, capitalism motivates people to do well, do better than each other, have the best product win, allocate their efforts according to their abilities and the needs of the economy (demand).  Thats all great.  At its worst, with current regulations, our economic systems lead to (unregulated) advertisement preventing the best product from floating to the top, vendor-lock-in strategies preventing equal playing grounds for competition to fruition, (corrupt) acceptance of personal bribes by vendor management personnel leading to the sneakiest vendor to be chosen by a company, not the vendor with the best value proposition.  Even worse than that, at its worst it has individuals within governments or other bodies of special privilege, abuse their position by instating laws that again make unequal the playing field.

If capitalism is to work as was initially intended (and yes, that might well organically lead to a Venus-esk efficient situation in time), controls are needed to prevent actions by enterprises or special institutions (such as government institutions) from degrading the level field that capitalism bases its success on.

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pedward replied on Wed, Oct 22 2008 4:27 AM

pedward:
If capitalism is to work as was initially intended (and yes, that might well organically lead to a Venus-esk efficient situation in time), controls are needed to prevent actions by enterprises or special institutions (such as government institutions) from degrading the level field that capitalism bases its success on.

And in addition to the above, the more we evolve to a society that is more conscious of the whole, and of the fact that long term we have a lot to gain from not "out-doing" each other by destruction, but out-doing by really doing better (as capitalist ideals intended), the fewer, less severe and less destructive cases of corruption we will endure.  Where will the ultimate war monger/exploiter take their family for vacation in ten years? They'll be king of a dead, polluted world ;) - don't mean to sound exaggerating or emotional but you get my point.. I don't think they are conscious enough that they loose out in the end as well.  Furthermore, if they spent their immense power of influence over resources and effort into improving the world economy, they have a lot to gain.  But they probably have a world view (probably handed down to them by their family and/or environment and experiences) that fighting for oneself no matter the cost is the only way.

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pedward:

The act of refusing a bribe and risking their own death or being overthrown makes a pretty clear statement that their intentions were for the people, definitely more so than the blackmailers.

The intentions of the tyrants were not for the people but for themselves.  Because those tyrants own the country, there are no economic benefits to for accepting bribes.  The real incentive for such bribes are rather threats - Like, your purse or your life.

As for the article at http://mises.org/story/2578, please notice there is always a difference between giving a bribe to bypass coercion (regulation), and giving a bribe to coerce others.  There is nothing legitimate about a government offering a bribe to another government.

 

If capitalism is to work as was initially intended (and yes, that might well organically lead to a Venus-esk efficient situation in time), controls are needed to prevent actions by enterprises or special institutions (such as government institutions) from degrading the level field that capitalism bases its success on.

Special institutions are the creation of government, that is, created by coercion - just the opposite of free enterprise.  There is no room for government in a free market economy, therefore no need for the government to fix the problem it created.  By the way, all the destructions created by war would not happen under the free enterprise model.  Government go to war, and of course, businesses receiving taxpayer's money will go to war, however under a free market, nobody would fund such wars.  Going to war would be at your own risk, and businesses would avoid war at all cost because of capital loss.

 

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pedward replied on Wed, Oct 22 2008 6:45 AM

What I don't understand is this this:

If you mean there literally should be no government, who would define and enforce laws governing trade?  As an example, what would stop a company selling medication and lie about its effects and contents if no law holds them accountable?  Ill effects may only be realized many years later _ by which time those who benefited from the lies may no longer be in any risk of repercussions
Are you saying nobody needs to define the rules of the game?  or that they need to be defined but not by the government _ in which case who and how?

Also_ how does removal of the government from the market deal with items like the environment?  when a company assesses its own risks related to an action_ it doesn"t take into consideration the ill effects it may have on the overall system (the overall economy)_ these risks go unaccounted for but have a real effect and will eventually affect all participants_  you again have this issue of no single member of the capitalist society willing to "take the plunge" if it will cost them more and they"re not sure all others will follow_ how does the free market model address this?  or does it assume that such things can only be addressed with social development?

(apologies for the weird symbols like _ keyboard has gone strange)

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With all that powerful rethoric, you guys will make excelent politiceans some day. I don't have the time or energy to go through it all -- though I'd advice you to pick something on Economic Analysis of Law -- , but I'll try to address my 2 cents as you get more specific.

pedward:
If you mean there literally should be no government, who would define and enforce laws governing trade?

You're talking of problems of information assymetry. Basically the producers, at least the good ones, wants to offer confidence over their products so they can charge a premium and attract customers. Customers want to be reassured over the quality of products. Even though the government offers some reassurance over the quality of goods and services -- even if not completely deserved -- situation like that happen today across all markets. Second-hand car deals might be a particular good case to study.

You can offer them guarantees for appliances, insurance for a house, have a regulatory agency put a stick on it, and the consumer's report evaluate it, sell the stuff through a common channel (supermarket), or under some brand (a franchise like mc-donanld's that only brands, doesn't own any of the restaurants), etc. Here in Portugal, there is a franchise of menus now, where restaurants agree to have a common menu to offer confidence over the expectation and quality of the food.

Anyway, libertarians don't put a big deal of effort into fighting government oversight -- even if they think it's misguided -- and libertarians are against fraud. According to libertarians ethics, some personal defense agency might not be able to go through the pharmacies to see if they're doing everything correctly, unless the pharmacies agree with the program, but they aren't against using force against fraud.

pedward:
Also_ how does removal of the government from the market deal with items like the environment?  when a company assesses its own risks related to an action_ it doesn"t take into consideration the ill effects it may have on the overall system

Of course it does, provided we assume profit maximization behavior. In this kind of cases, you want to think in a topic that isn't so dear to you, so it doesn't have all the emotions attached, but that reflects the situation just as well. Think for instance in urban planning. This is a real situation here: the city owns a marketplace (I am not talking about the market metaphor, I'm talking about the real thing). The voters want to bulldoze and build a shopping mall in its place. The people from the marketplace protested a bit, but now they're content with their share, so protests are now from locals and some other groups that want that place for cultural/tourism purposes. Of course the city will replace it with a shopping mall, but what would happen in a free market? It really doesn't matter who owns the place, if the merchants or someone that collects some fee on them. What matters is how much would people put their energies where their mouth is. Who would bid the usage of the place higher? The marketplace-advocates or the mall-ones. Based on current profits and projections of profits as a shopping mall, the owner would make whatever maximizes value.

Firms maximize profits, people maximize utility. That's how these things balance.

Same with environmentalist. Some pollution is necessary to produce stuff we want, but we don't want the voters to force a dump into some small city (as was the case, a couple of times already in a few years extent here). Coase demonstrated that property rights make sure that the place is used for its most valued use. In the end, the big city people will try to negociate something that the small city citizens are willing to take to cope with the dump smell. And maybe it's more valuable to have something to reduce the smell. Whatever is the most Marshall efficient outcome.

 You want forests for the purpose to produce wood, but others want to pinick, camp and all that stuff. You'll have some of each because of the principle of reduced marginal value (or whatever it's called).

Allocating scarce resources that have alternative uses is a problem in an economy (duh, that's why it is an economy); whatever maximizes value should win (I don't agree with free rape for Angelina Jolie even it maximizes value to most people, democracy should be limited, but in general, that's a good heuristic). Unfortunately, solving an economy by voting has serious problems, from externalities to the fact they rarely reveal preference like action does.

 

With regard to the Venus project, I think we could have to some degree a Garden of Even like world if the right economic policies were followed today. They wouldn't be centralized socialist ones, but free market decentralized ones. There is a place for big organizations and communities in the world, if for nothing else than due to contract costs, but smaller, more modular stuff scales better so that's what we would have to go with.

Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. -- F. A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty

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pedward replied on Wed, Oct 22 2008 9:30 AM

So who owns the air and gets to pick the highest bidder for its use?  How would your examples apply to something like say carbon emissions?  Right now, some governments apply a tax or a limit on emissions.  In the absence of this, what private entity would come to affect carbon emissions, and what private entity would come to have the right to affect it?  Isn't there a need for an entity that is meant (I know this rarely or never sincerely happens in reality) to work for the good of the general population's long term interests, rather than its own (potentially short term) profit?

I guess private entities may try to use decreased emissions as a selling point (as they sometimes do these days) and try to use it to increase their profits provided consumers could rely on the facts presented by the entities and provided the consumers placed enough value on such selling points.  So I guess consumers can "vote with their wallets".

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No on owns the air, because it is not something you can homestead. 

Private property rights would need to be enforced on pollution (assuming carbon emissions are pollusion), which trespass upon the individual as property property.

The State not only works for its own profit, but also for the profits of the corporations and individuals that lobby successfully with the State.  There can be private organizations, for example private charities, that do the same work for the "good" of the population, if individuals do so choose.  However the key is that these private entites are developed in the free market, and are NOT GSE (officially or unofficially).

The conclusion is correct, voting with their wallets, a la letting the market decide.

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Solomon replied on Wed, Oct 22 2008 3:17 PM

pedward:
If you mean there literally should be no government, who would define and enforce laws governing trade?  As an example, what would stop a company selling medication and lie about its effects and contents if no law holds them accountable?  Ill effects may only be realized many years later _ by which time those who benefited from the lies may no longer be in any risk of repercussions
Are you saying nobody needs to define the rules of the game?  or that they need to be defined but not by the government _ in which case who and how?

Interesting that you ask that.

From the LRC blog earlier today

We libertarians are nuts for thinking that the free market could police the safety of products--right? Only government can do that, after all. Greedy profiteers care only about the bottom line, not about their customers.

Well, Wal-Mart is now instituting its own quality standards for products made in China, going far beyond the Chinese and U.S. governments' regulations. After all, Wal-Mart has far more to lose if the products its sells harm its customers than any government has.

Meanwhile, what is the U.N.'s proposed solution to the problem of tainted products from China? What else? More government regulation!

In its report released Wednesday, the United Nations recommended that China tighten oversight focusing on high-risk areas of the food chain, have an all-encompassing food safety law that would cover the whole industry and hold businesses responsible for the products they sell. . . .

Additionally, China needs a unified regulatory agency, the report said, and a place consumers can go for reliable information. The task is currently split between different government agencies, creating uneven enforcement that is further complicated by numerous laws.

 

People foolishly trusted government regulators to protect them, and Wal-Mart is stepping into the breach to provide genuine protection, while the U.N. just prattles on about the same old failed government "solutions." Yeah, we libertarians are just a bunch of utopian nuts for trusting the market over the state.

Source: http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/023605.html#more

 

Not only is the market self-regulating in the sense that good products succeed and bad ones fail, and that (private) courts work as a preventative against fraud, a company, acting completely out of self-interest, may decide to impose regulatory standards on itself.

Diminishing Marginal Utility - IT'S THE LAW!

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pedward:
So who owns the air and gets to pick the highest bidder for its use?

Property comes with well defined bundled rights (or should). If your neighbor keeps his music too loud, you get to sue. If someone releases a ton of toxins into the air, same thing. The city council, or home owners association for a city, the fishing club for a river tributary, etc can seal that its members rights are being protected. Through a class action suit, a court can similarly channel many individuals to inject or negotiate with another party in a simple, orderly fashion.

If someone wants to build an airport near your house, they will want to buy permission to make loud noise from you. If the value of the airport to consumers is higher than the cost of the noise to you, they will pay you and build the airport.

Of course, you take things as you're given. If an airport already existed, you are the one that has to pay them to reduce the noise or to close the thing, if you want to quiet it.

pedward:
I guess private entities may try to use decreased emissions as a selling point (as they sometimes do these days

Yep, that is a more efficient model than the regulatory one because it makes use of internal information and motivates the creation of such information as well.

pedward:
Isn't there a need for an entity that is meant (I know this rarely or never sincerely happens in reality) to work for the good of the general population's long term interests, rather than its own (potentially short term) profit?

People don't think just in short term profits. They make insurances, build resumes and engage in all kinds of activities to ensure value into the future. That's where central governments get their power from.

Any distortions that make producers think short-term should be eliminated. Huge discrepancies on capital gains and income taxes, for instance, together with laws protecting management from corporate raids, are in part responsible for a lot of the short-term mentality you see in the stock exchange markets.

 

Duplication was discussed earlier, I just want to throw in that you guys should at least acknowledge this is a more serious problem in public organizations than in private ones (of which I'm not convinced it's that bad). Too often, public organizations waste surplus budget into stuff of low value, or even of negative value, so that the budget doesn't get cut the following year(s). In contrast, private producers have incentives to keep usage of land, capital and labor at a minimum, and re-evaluate their production process constantly.

Shops keep their storage/capital into another floor to free the street level; another interesting pattern is their dispersion: retailers at the street level and together, while gyms, offices and shops where people stay for a long time get second bid-ed for a higher floor, or at least with less frontal space.

As an interesting specific case, look at men and women bathrooms. In the private sector, they are built side by side to share the pipes, as well as in the same position vertically for the same reason. Contrast that to the public sector where contractors many times find to their advantage to hi-jack costs since they get paid as a share of the cost.

Labor saving devices have been created since the dawn of man, and things may only be less efficient here because of state-enforced unions.

Resources are shared throughout the industries. A factory depends on inputs from another factory, is using capital from another, who in turn depend on a zillion others and provides for a zillion more. Trucks, trains, boats, airplanes are all used for transport, with retailers all around the globe. Not even the OSI (the model watered down for IP) had as many layers as the ones to build a pencil!

Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. -- F. A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty

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An interesting case study to sense how bad of a job the public sectors does when it comes to evaluate value to cost is represented in the race workers figures from past decades. Plenty of laws were passed to distort competition between white and black labor (in particular in South Africa's Apartheid) because legislatures don't care about costs (employers did, and were hiring blacks). Public works were executed by white workers because the bureaucrat has no incentive to cut costs. Thomas Sowell has something about the staggering difference in black chemists in the private and public sector (in the 50s or 60s I think).

There was racism in the private sector as well of course, and I'm sure distortions don't explain it all, but because employers had to pay to be racists, it was that much rampant in public organizations.

Outside of distortions, greedy profit-seeking filthy capitalist pigs behave exactly as we'd like, unlike our benevolent burocratic swine overlords whose accountability is mostly fictious. (I'm not sure there is any human action with more externalities than voting.)

Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. -- F. A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty

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LancierDombre:

The sequal came out last Friday - Zeitgeist: Addendum.  It goes deeper into the monetary and banking system as well as the role of "economic hit-men" in the American Empire; all of which should have been included in the first movie.

Agreed. I very much enjoyed it until right about the 1:00:00 mark, when they tied Adam Smith to the promotion of merchantilism.

It's rediculous and as much reminiscent of the description of socialist proponents in The Road to Serfdom as anything happening in the mainstream today.  Of course, I don't have to tell most of you that[,] do I.

No kidding. They take all the good work pointing out how atrocious the actions and results government interventions and government fiat money have been, while pointing out the whole time how insider corporations have been making vast fortunes while wielding and being wielded by government power, and then say it's the fault of the "corporations" pushing for a free market.

Why would any corporation want a "free market" when they can have all the benefits to themselves that merchantilism brings?

Is it too conspiratorial to suggest that maybe Zeitgeist is a project of the New World Order itself, trying to undermine actual free market efforts by offering socialism as the only answer to a "corrupt free market"? It's not like that hasn't been effectively used before, to "save capitalism from itself" from the "excesses of a free market".

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scineram:

I would love to know how to come up with the best for the whole.

Get out of the way of people making that choice for themselves.

There is no "whole", there are only individuals. As each individual chooses what is best for them, everyone benefits.

Demands for wanted services are communicated as efficiently as possible, while supplies of goods or labor are likewise available to the greatest extent. As the demand and supply of each occurrs, prices are established and people can allocate their wants and goods as best benefits themselves.

Anyone who makes the claim of "best for the whole" is setting themselves up as God, to decide for others what is or is not in their best interests.

Trust no one who makes such a claim.

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pedward:
As long as the number of people who believe in this increases and as long as the behaviors of people move towards the greater good, we will be moving towards a "best for the whole" situation and we will enjoy increasing rewards during this change (i.e. we don't need to wait for us to exactly reach some vision of utopia to benefit from this).

You wrote this without breaking out in laughter?

I have rarely read such a load of Utopian central-planning hype anywhere, much less on Mises.org.

Pray tell, oh Great and Powerful One, how shall "we" plot this course to "move towards the greater good"? By what measuring stick shall we know what is "greater good" and what is "lesser"?

Forgive me if you're just quoting from the Little Red Book. Then I guess it's ok.

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