Archive for the ‘ The Slide Show ’ Category

OWS and the Federal Reserve

There is no denying that the Occupy Wall Street movement is a powerful
phenomenon. There is also no denying that they have some legitimate
grievances.

If I had a chance, I would like to communicate to members of OWS that
the Federal Reserve is easily the most dangerous part of the 1%. The
Reserve’s policy of creating money devalues the savings accounts of
the 99% and encourages debt. It encourages conspicuous, wasteful
consumerism. The cheap credit credited by new money benefits the 1%
at the expense of the 99%.

The slideshow explains it best:

http://www.matt.com/SlideShow/

NPR and The Federal Reserve

NPR’s This American Life has produced an excellent piece on the origin of money and the Federal Reserve.

In the prologue they illustrate that money is an elaborate illusion (The Onion has seized upon this reality satirically—or perhaps not so satirically?)  Listen through 10 minutes.  Very interesting.

In act one (starting at 10:05) we learn that the Brazilian government, as all governments do, printed money to pay for their programs, and in the process destroyed all faith in the currency by devaluing it to the point of worthlessness.  To overcome this, they essentially rebranded the currency and convinced the population that this currency wouldn’t be so radically inflated.  And it wasn’t.

Act two, at 29:12, is the most fascinating part.  Listen to this if nothing else. They sum up all of the key facts about the Federal Reserve: that it is not a wing of the government, that it actually creates money from nothing, and that it operates in secret and basically under the radar.  They speak in terms of “magical” and “dangerous”.  Throughout the piece, a healthy tone of skepticism prevails regarding the wisdom of all of this.

After listening, I would highly suggest a visit to The Slideshow on the Federal Reserve and the economy, which this pieces leads into directly.

What can be done? Upgrade the slideshow!

While the slideshow in its current form has been highly effective, it needs to be developed into an engaging video with animation and music.  I can handle the music (electronic music production is a side hobby of mine) and verbiage, but I am not a graphics person!  The Shift Happens video is an excellent model.  I’m thinking a Flash animation that can be posted  in full original quality here on matt.com, and then also posted to YouTube for greater exposure, would make the message much clearer to people.

A well produced video could go a long long way toward grabbing people’s attention long enough to teach them what is happening with money and economics in our world.  For example, the Cannot Print Wealth slide, without any detail or elaboration, simply states that doubling the supply of dollars makes every dollar worth half as much.  Most people can see this after a moment of reflection, although if you asked them to explain why they would struggle.  However, with visual representations of goods, services, consumers, and dollars we could show the number of consumers and the supply of goods held constant, with the supply of dollars being the only thing that changes.  By seeing what is happening it would be painfully obvious that the same number of people chasing the same supply of goods and services cannot possibly obtain twice the supply of goods and services.  Doubling the supply of dollars doesn’t double the supply of goods and services.  Explaining this textually in detail would require a lot for reading, and if we lose the interest of the viewer, we lose the battle.

Many principles in the slideshow that are stated very simply and matter-of-factly could be visually explained very quickly.  This way we can help people digest a lot of concepts, and really comprehend them, very quickly.

I’m not thinking of anything terribly sophisticated.  I really like the clean simply line-drawing animation in the Shift Happens video.  It seems clean and effective to me.  (Although I’m not committed to any particular approach; if you have a better idea, let me know.)  If you or someone you know is good at Flash and would be interested in working with me to develop something along these lines, please get with me!

mattwalt@gmail.com

What can we do about The Federal Reserve?

Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to read the slides and spread the word.  I sincerely believe, as I mention on one of the slides, that this is the most important issue that we face today.  People disagree on so many issues.  What should people be allowed to do?  Who should be taxed and how much?  How should that money be spent?  When is force justified to protect rights?  A significant consideration with all of these questions is the expenditure of money.  Before we can can even debate these issues, before we can consider the costs of political action, we have to stand on a foundation of money that is steady and not in a state of uncertain flux.  Money has to be something constant.  Something we all understand and trust.  It is like language.  We can’t have a conversation unless we agree on the definition of words, and we trust those definitions to remain basically constant.

Today we don’t really know what a dollar, a peso, a franc, a pound, or a euro is.  Today, debates on the expenditure of money are like debating the appropriate length of a highway in terms of miles when the definition of a “mile” changes from day to day.

I have convinced many of you that this is, in fact, the most important issue we face today.  This leads to the inevitable question: what do we do about it?  If you live in the United States, we have an unprecedented opportunity.

Since its inception in 1910, the Federal Reserve has operated under a veil of secrecy.  Even though an act of Congress created it, Congress is largely kept in the dark when it comes to its day-to-day workings.  We don’t know the specifics of the assets it purchases (with newly created money), or from whom it purchases them.  We don’t know the specifics of the loans made by the Fed.  While the jury is still out on the need for, and even the essential legitimacy of, the Fed, it seems reasonable that we ought to at least be allowed to know the details of its behavior.

This notion that we ought to at least be able to know what they do is catching on.  A bill has been introduced that will subject to the Fed to an audit by the Government Accountability Office.  While there is significant opposition to the bill by mainstream economists and those close to the Fed, virtually everyone else supports an audit.  In fact, most of the House and the Senate have signed on as cosponsors already.  The support is bipartisan.  What can you do?  This website will educate you on the details of the bill, and even provides tools for contacting your representative and senator.  If yours don’t already sponsor the bill, make sure they do.  Let them know now.