Tuesday, January 4, 2011

American Dream: Is it propaganda meant to perpetrate victimhood?

"The AMERICAN DREAM is a 30 minute animated film that shows you how you've been scammed by the most basic elements of our government system." That's how this movie is billed on YouTube (linked below). The movie intends to wake up the viewer to truths about the Federal Reserve that supposedly are secret, and that it's part of an evil global banking elite that's sucking the money out of countries around the world. The movie has some good points to it, but misses one aspect to it. We're not automatically the victim of the banks, we can make choices so that we are free of the banks. Further, the system could work if regulations were in place to keep greedy tendencies in check, but those regulations were dismantled over the last few decades.

The movie seems to come from the Tea Party movement. Clue? It has a long section focused on one of the U.S. Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, and especially gives a rendition of his statement that occasionally the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants. That phrase has recently come back to the surface in a way that's advocating for a new civil war or revolution. As if fighting in the streets will result in anything useful.

The movie shows the life of a financially ignorant everyman who wakes up one morning to undergo foreclosure. As his house is being taken away he's whining about being behind in his payments, but next month he'll have more money just have mercy. The movie goes from there through a tour of the history of money and banking, slanting the presentation towards bankers being evil villains and us normal folk being victimized every time money stops being "real money"

"Real money" appears to be defined as being backed by gold held in a vault.

The story does have a lot of good information in it, and is probably factually correct. But it's highly slanted towards keeping the viewer thinking they're a victim of the system.

One crucial piece it misses is the depression of the 1870-1880's. The movie shows Pres. Andrew Jackson "killing the banks" and fast forwards to 1913, claiming that everything in-between was hunky-dory. It wasn't, that depression in the late 1800's was supposedly extremely severe, and occurred while the U.S. was not under the influence of any form of false money.

The main thing ignored by the movie however is our power of personal choice.

Individual people have two choices about their financial health. They can live above their means, spending willy nilly, maxing out the credit cards, etc. Or they can live beneath their means, keeping borrowing to a minimum, instead saving and investing their money in a way that creates personal financial resiliency.

The movie shows the ignorant everyman as having lived above his means. Unable to keep up with his personal greed, the banks simply exercised their rights in the contract he signed when he couldn't keep up payments on the loans that fueled his greedy lifestyle. Living above ones means is just as greedy as the bankers depicted in the movie as evil demons, what's different is the scale.

The fact is that any time you take out a loan you're putting yourself under the control of someone else. Somewhere inside that loan will be provisions of taking back stuff in case loan payments are not made. Any lender who doesn't put those provisions into loan agreements is stupid and will go out of business. The banking business has thousands of years of history behind it, so every bank will understand that principle.

The way to not being controlled by others? Don't take out loans. Instead of living a life based on borrowed money, be frugal and create personal financial resilience.

It's that simple.

We don't have to see ourselves as victims of the great evil banking conglomerates. We can live beneath our means and be free of debt.