Regarding America: Freedom to Fascism
A few people had asked about the "documentary" America: Freedom to Fascism
. I finally saw it because a friend was nice enough to send me a copy of it.
Here is my review of the film. I don't have time to go into detailed research and rebuttals as I have sometimes done in the past, so this will simply be an op-ed rebuttal.
Overall I think the film was a bunch of nonsense. A few salient points were made, and the issue of the legality of the Federal Income Tax is interesting and, from what I know, relatively accurately portrayed, at least the technical issues.
The biggest problem with this film was the use of hyperbole and the total lack of clarity and the muddled ideology. Are the Federal Income Tax and the Federal Reserve a conspiracy of Communism or Capitalism? The film randomly blamed both. Ironically, the claims and ideologies expressed in the film exhibit the exact same mentality of the Germany Nazis. Nazism was founded on opposition to both Communism and the "international bankers", that was a major thrust of the movement. Ironically, this whole production could have been taken from Mein Kampf, indeed the reason that the Jews were targets was because "Jewry" was associated with banking.
Having said that, there are real issues and there are real concerns to be addressed, but this film did a horrible job at actually analyzing the real problems and producing coherent analysis.
First: The Federal Income Tax.
Who, ultimately, benefits from the system that the people in this film complain about? The wealthy property owners. Yet, several of the arguments against the Federal Income Tax that were put forward were complaints about "wealth redistribution". This, I assume, implies redistribution from wealthy to poor, but if this system is benefiting the wealthy, then how is this an issue?
The film showed footage of Reagan saying that the Federal Income Tax system had become "un-American", but what did Reagan do? Under Reagan income taxes were raised on the poor and lowered on the wealthy. If the Feral Income Tax is all a part of a manipulation to benefit the wealthy, then how exactly did lowering taxes on the wealthy and raising taxes on the poor make it "more fair"?
There was allusion to a "flat tax" system for income taxes, but again, this would only help the rich and hurt the poor, so how exactly would a flat tax be "more fair", if the Income Tax ultimately benefits the wealthy in the first place?
Prior to World War II, from the beginning of the country up to that time, virtually all taxation was on the wealthy. The poor certainly paid no meaningful level of taxes, and even the moderately wealthy paid almost nothing. Most taxation was on property, profits, and consumption, thus the taxes were raised almost exclusively from the wealthy. During and after World War II taxation was expanded to basically all classes of people thereby taxing the poor and middle class to a far higher degree than ever before.
In addition, corporate taxes were a much more significant part of the revenue system prior to Reagan. Indeed the founders, especially Thomas Jefferson, as some of the quotes alluded to, were ANTI-corporate. When the US was founded corporations were weak and mostly for things like schools and public institutions, and they typically only had limited life spans. Indeed Jefferson and others saw private corporations and the amassing of wealthy estates as among the greatest threats to American freedom, and certainly corporations as they exist today would be totally opposed by the founders according to the words of their time.
Then the film says that a graduated taxation system is a part of the Communist Manifesto, which it is, but what is their point? The point of the items in the Communist Manifesto was to oppose the interests of capital to allow, in theory, freedom to workers, the people who create value. The film complains that the income tax is a tax on labor, but then calls it Communist. Which is it? The Communist Manifesto was OPPOSED to taxation on LABOR. The purpose of the graduated taxation in the Communist Manifesto was to tax the profits, which it argued are really the product of the LABOR of the workers. Thus, being opposed to the Federal Income Tax is really taking the SAME position as the Communist Manifesto.
Second: The Federal Reserve.
Just like the Nazis and other early 20th century anti-Semites, the film, produced by a Jew, is opposed to the Federal Reserve. I'm not saying the film maker has anything to do with Nazism, simply that he is way over simplifying the issues and just jumping around to conspiracy theories and poor arguments.
The film maker, and others in the film, say that gold is "real money" and the paper issued by the Federal Reserve is "fake money".
Well, I agree that the Federal Reserve system is a corrupt system, but it is perfectly good in theory. You can't have an economic system based on gold, that's just idiotic. What makes gold "money"? Only that people have a social agreement to treat it as such, which is the exact same reason that paper is money. There is nothing special about gold that makes it "real money". The reason that gold was often used historically is that is doesn't corrode, thus you can store it for a long time without it physically degenerating. With book keeping, however, you can do the exact same thing. Money becomes a number on paper instead of a count of bricks. So what?
Value is relative, there simply is no possible way to create a de-facto constant measure of value, because value is subjective. Gold or paper, it doesn't matter. People say that gold is good because you can't simply produce more of it at a whim, but this is really nonsense. We could just as easily use marble or water or any other limited material to achieve this, but this is totally unsuitable for a modern economy. Yes, if you print too much money that will ruin the monetary system, which is why we have a Federal Reserve that manages that process. Is it as transparent and open and as honest as it should be? No. Would using gold solve the problem? No.
People like to complain about how horrible it was that the Federal Reserve was created, but the American economy has achieved its greatest strength and stability since the creation of the Federal Reserve. Prior to the Federal Reserve American banking was a disaster. The American economy had massive and erratic depressions, and currency was totally insane. Money was privately issued by small private banks, and you had to take your money to the right bank and not all stores would take all money. There was no universally accepted currency until the government stepped in and federalized the system. Money in one state wouldn't be accepted in other states, etc. Can you imagine today traveling to a different state and none of your money would be accepted. That's what it was like at one time.
In addition, people used gold and also tobacco for money prior to federal banking because there was so little trust in the banks. People also used foreign currency in America into the 19th century because the American banking system was so poor.
Who wanted the Federal Reserve? The corporations! Overall the federal banking system is a good system, and the idea of using gold is moronic. There isn't enough gold in the world to represent the value of other goods in the world today, unless the value of gold greatly fluctuates, in which case, what the hell? Even before the end of the gold standard they couldn't use gold anymore, they had to switch to silver, because even a spec of gold was worth too much to pay for every day items. Gold is limited, and we have to destroy the earth to mine for it. Talk about a cause for war. Nations would be warring over the gold mines, as they were doing in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Why do you think the Boer War took place in South Africa? Because the United Kingdom wanted control of the gold mines, one of the largest gold supplies in the world, because gold was money. So we would then fight for gold in addition to oil? Now securing gold mines around the world becomes another requirement of national security? An even greater reason to deploy the American army around the world? That's just plain stupid.
A country that naturally has no gold then is doomed to poverty and a country with a gold mine will be rich, if they can keep it...
Digital and paper currency is absolutely a good thing. Money is just a representative of value. The real value is in the other goods and services. The real value is all of the property, which money is just supposed to be a proxy for. Even if gold is money, gold is only then a proxy for the other stuff, the land, the cars, the movie rights, etc., that's all of the "real value". It doesn't matter what money is made of. The problem comes in with corruption, and gold doesn't put a stop to corruption. Plus, we will be able to fabricate gold at one point, the technology is on the way, and what then? Then gold will be just like paper anyway.
The film also complained about national ID cards, but then complained about illegal immigrants. When the Nazis issued national ID cards the majority of people liked it. Why? Because the cards were used against minorities and dissenters, thus for most people they were considered a good thing. They were only a bad thing for Jews and dissidents, but 90% of the population doesn't like dissidents anyway. So, if they issued national ID cards in America who would benefit? The average person. Who would be harmed? Illegal immigrants and dissidents.
Who is this film complaining about? Illegal immigrants. The position it takes is like a German complaining that the Jews should be expelled from Germany, yet complaining about the ID cards that would make that possible.
Next we have the issue of vote rigging. This is a real concern and I don't have any real complaints about how that was covered in the film.
Finally, we have the complaints about "world government". What exactly is the problem with "world government" anyway? Look at the example of the United States. What if all the states were totally "sovereign"? You could cross the border of a state, rob a bank, run back to the other state and never have to fear. Indeed this was a major problem until the creation of the FBI.
The reality is that as the world becomes more integrated due to technology we have to develop governing bodies that can adjust to this integrated reality. As it is I feel that we need stronger international regulations, not weaker ones. I would like to see an international minimum wage, and speaking of which, this would actually help to resolve the illegal immigration issue in America. The only way to reduce immigration into America is to raise wages abroad, yet corporations in America try to keep wages low abroad, so they can pay workers a low amount in foreign countries and then sell the products of their labor for high prices in America. Naturally people want to immigrate to where the wages are higher, which is America. This only demonstrates how regional problems are global problems and how there is a need for international governance. We have to tackle global problems, such as climate change, water supplies, pollution, labor markets, the drug trade, human trafficking, etc., with international governing bodies, there simply is no way around it.
Painting all forms of international governance as "evil" is just plain nonsense. The people who typically do this are people who are defending certain types of exploitation and illegal activities that are easier to do with weak international laws.
Overall, what is the message of this film? Who are the "bad guys"? Bankers? Corporations? Communists? The UN?
It's just a jumbled mess of conflicting ideas and complaints. Among this jumbled mess there are a few real issues and valid points, but overall it is just a jumbled mess.
Americans are the "oppressed slaves"? In reality the World Bank and the IMF and the Federal Reserve system have greatly benefited America at the expense of other countries, primarily developing countries. Americans have it horrible? We get cheap goods made by people in Mexico, China, South America, India, etc. Who is getting the raw deal here, not us? We benefit from these exploitive systems. We are the beneficiaries of the global exploitation. The film portrays Americans as victims, when in reality we are the beneficiaries. Yes, ultimately American capitalists are the ultimate beneficiaries, at the expense of even the American working class, but even the American working class benefits from the system of global exploitation. Think of it like the American working class are the limo drivers and errand boys for the mafia. Yes, ultimately the mob bosses are the ones screwing everyone over, but even the low men on the totem pole in the mob get benefits by association.
The problems with the ideas presented in this film are typical of libertarians. They champion "private property rights", yet they fail to understand that it is private interests who are undermining their personal property rights. They complain about the expansion of eminent domain, but eminent domain is being expanded to transfer property to private corporations.
One of the most telling remarks was when someone complained that America was "turned into" a nation of wage earners instead of independent business owners. They attributed this to the Income Tax and the Federal Reserve. What nonsense. This is a natural product of industrialization and capitalism. The amassing of private capital, and market competition, is what drives smaller independent producers out of business as economies of scale are established, thereby consolidating capital and necessarily producing a dichotomy of a large pool of wage laborers and a small pool of capital owners. This isn't a problem created by Federal Banks, this is a "problem" (if you call it that) created by private ownership of capital. It is inevitable in a capialist system.
What the people in the film fail to fully address is that the American government is ultimately a tool of private interests, so it is far more complex than simply saying that "government is bad and private property is good". Communism has nothing to do with this, indeed the whole objective of Communism was to overcome many of these very same problems that the film is complaining about. The wealthy are the people who benefit the most from the system, yet libertarians are often defending the wealthy and railing against the poor. They can't seem to get their agenda straight.
Once again the libertarians point the finger at a bogus bogeyman and secret cabals, while not addressing the real elephant in the room. They complain about "redistribution of wealth" to the poor, when in fact the wealth is being redistributed to the wealthy.
The reality is that things are nowhere near as simple as this film portrays them. As far as I'm concerned, eliminating the income tax would be fine, then replace it with a property tax and higher taxes on corporate profits and capital gains. Of course, we know that would never fly, because that would hit the wealthy. I want to see the Libertarians promote such a system. I don't pretend to have all the answers, but this film, while raising a few interesting points, doesn't even present a coherent analysis of the issues.