Friday, October 17, 2008

Stop and Think

In the last two weeks or so you've all probably heard me talking about the online film Zeitgeist Addendum. Its a long documentary with a lot of radical ideas, so here is my rundown.

I've watched ZA twice now. The first time I just sat back and let it play. When it was finished I wasn't sure what to make of it. My first impression was that it was very persuading, but like all second hand reports I didn't think it was the whole truth. So I started asking around to see if anyone could verify some of the claims that it made. This was pretty hard because it makes a lot of claims and I don't have the time or know-how to check all their facts. But my research did yield some fruit. The last quarts of the film is about The Venus Project, a proposed new "Resource Based" economy by this guy Jaques Fresko. The film is pretty much a big ad for the project but even without the proposed new economy, the message of the film is still important on its own.

So I decided to watch it again but this time take notes on their main points so I could compile it all and check from there. Thats when I realized that it wasn't the facts that I needed to focus, it was the ideas and concepts. Even if someone says that unemployment in the US is 10% when its actually 8% doesn't change the fact that the unemployment rate is out of control (I just made up those numbers for the argument). So its counter productive to focus on each precise statistic than to the look at the main point.

The entire argument of the film is that our growth as a people is being held back from meaningful progress by long held institutions that are not longer relevant, and the point is to just get you to stop and think about the way things work. We could be so much more than we are now if we were not slowed down by the desire to keep things the way they are. The biggest institutions targeted in the film are the monetary system, capitalism, government, and religion.

I don't want to go into each one individually because I don't think I could explain them accurately the way the film does. However there are few overarching things I'd like to point out.

1: Capitalism values profit well above human welfare. The only reason most companies hire employees is because that job hasn't been automated yet. If I have a factory and can function at a fraction of the cost by using machines, why would I hire employees?

2: The only reason we don't usually have to pay for water and air is because its so abundant. Charging for it would be useless.

3: Our monetary system cannot keep up with technological advances. What happens when the population starts to really outweigh the number of jobs? The global population is rising every year and more jobs are being automated every year.

4: As I said in my last post, we have the technology to make clean, efficient transportation and energy but the oil and energy companies (and the government) stand in the way. Why? Because efficiency does not mean profit. The longer we use inefficient cars and energy, the longer they
will stay in business and maintain control. Its no secret that the oil companies hold electric car patents that prevent mass distribution.

There are more issued addressed in the film but, again, I don't want to screw up the message by the explaining it poorly. Take two hours, watch the film, and then look around and ask yourself "is this really the best we can do?"

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