On The Money with Peter Hebert

February 23, 2010

The Rise of the People, Radicalization, and Freedom

Filed under: Legislation and Regulation — Peter Hebert @ 5:16 PM

There has never been an idea so threatening to the banking and political establishment than freedom. Imagine a pension system that can be passed down through the generations so that it can grow and become the foundation for the family tree to grow. Imagine a banking and credit system that encourages households and businesses to take on minimum debt and to pay it off so that assets can grow in value rather than be forever encumbered as like this generation of financial tenants. Imagine a political system where elected representatives are not lawyers, but rather business professionals who actually understand the ramifications of proposed bills and can anticipate each unintended consequence.

The array of subgroups that make up the Tea Party suggests the rise of the people. They are understandably angry and feel disenfranchised. They are fiscal conservatives and libertarians, who value freedom. They also want to take the country back from liberal progressive ideology that took the federal government away from the nation’s founding documents – the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Among the subgroups are Second Amendment die-hards and conspiracy theorists. Those conspiracy theories, once the domain of the fringes, have come into the mainstream, and serve as the bonding glue. They dovetail with each to form a cohesive and comprehensive alternative explanation for the complex world around us. Their significance in 21st century America is rooted in a fundamental fact: We’ve lost faith in the mainstream media, the corporate sector, and government. We see them as being in bed with each other, and therefore, alternative explanations are more satisfying than more misleading propaganda.

Each passing news cycle suggests that radicalization in America is becoming more prevalent. Consider these three instances. In June 2004, Marvin Heemeyer of Granby, Colorado rampaged through town in a bulldozer that was fitted as a tank over zoning disputes and liens that put a hurt on him and his own business. When it was over, he committed suicide. In February 2010, Joe Stack of San Marcos, Texas slammed a small plane into an office building that housed the Internal Revenue Service. His action resulted in the injury and death of other(s). In these two instances, death was preferable to life. Also in February 2010, Terry Hoskings of Moscow, Ohio bulldozed his house out of spite to the Internal Revenue Service and RiverHill Bank. His actions, fortunately, only amounted to significant property damage. According to an Internet poll conducted by WLWT News, which reported the Hoskings story – an overwhelming 78 percent responded with good for him, 9 percent responded with not a good idea, and only 13 percent said that he should be prosecuted. These people were not political radicals and they were not domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber). Instead, they are society’s symptoms that suggest just how fragile we are in the face of government agencies and financial corporations that do not think, feel, breathe, or care.

Radicalization, however, does not need to follow the paths of these people. Imagine a world where groups of people have the power to wage creative destruction safely and on their terms for everyone’s best interests. Citibank, America’s zombie bank, issued the following statement:

“Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change.”

Radical times demand radical economics. The logical answer to this too big to fail bank is to pull the plug by closing accounts, and transferring funds elsewhere. Consumer choice of this nature is more powerful than a tank, plane, or bulldozer to send the message that we recognize that monster corporations are a threat to America. That pariah of an institution has ruined lives, fortunes, and the American economy. Because Citibank is a corporation that does not mean it is assured life in perpetuity. Out of this type of creative destruction will come better business models and real competition. That may sound radical, but it is what people need to do. As voters, tax payers, and consumers we are the ones who have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … not monster corporations that continue to threaten our lives, freedoms, and our economy. Freedom is radical and it is liberating.

Peter Hébert
Author of Mortgaged and Armed
Coming late-July 2010

February 2, 2010

Thoughts on the Film Avatar

Filed under: Commentary — Peter Hebert @ 4:02 PM

Avatar is a metaphor for the corporate state’s relationship with humanity and planet earth. The plot is fairly simple. Resources must be acquired due to profits regardless of the cost to life, civilization, and the sustainability of the environment. In other words, Avatar’s message is that it is a lie that human population poses a threat to sustainability. The opposite is true: the corporate world actually poses that threat. Opening up Pandora’s box results in painful repercussions. And, it is that context that permits this three-dimensional animation to succeed at the box office.

Those giant, blue-colored aboriginals are the Na’Vi, which I think is a take off on the Hebrew word navim for the prophets. In the movie they are in tune with nature and life, understand their relationship with the tree of souls (as in the well of souls beneath Jerusalem’s TempleMount), and are in harmony with the world as it is – not as the corporate world would like it to be – exploited for profit. The conflict is set into motion when the life sustaining and supporting habitat of the giant Hometree is to be destroyed by the RDA Corporation in order to mine for a rare and valuable mineral. The injustice is resolved when Jake Scully takes up the cause of the Nav’Vi by using the corporation’s own tools, infiltrating and going native, and arguing with the natives that self-defense and survival is essential. In fact, Scully becomes their messiah-like figure, or warrior king, in the process. The crisis triggered by the corporate miners and exploiters serves to not only galvanize resistance, but to also bring about unity among all the tribes of Pandora.

It does not matter if this story is set in Vietnam, Guatemala, Africa, or the Near East, Avatar is a film that champions the cause of underdogs, not dominant establishments that unyieldingly believe they are on the right side of history and technology. The 9/11-like event that takes place in the shock and awe attack on Hometree is the inverse of what happened in the United States. Film viewers are set up to identify with the Na’Vi, not “the Sky People” that cause fire to come down from heaven. Seen in these terms, the movie implies that even though Americans, or for that matter all people on the planet, are not united on issues of concern to many, when confronted by threatening challenges such as fears of irresponsible government, rogue multi-national corporations, impending global government, or looming global conflict under the doctrine of the preemptive strike as part of the just war theory … the grass roots push back will ensure that evil is rooted out so that justice may prevail. Those who have been right will be shown to have been wrong.

Film critics and talking heads, however, would rather exclusively focus on the stunning animation, science fiction themes, and miss the core message. The film, as author Naomi Wolf correctly observes, is an indictment against America, its military establishment, the military’s disregard for its own, and the unashamed support of corporations they defend to rape and pillage other peoples while never understanding why the world hates us. The film’s script writer and director James Cameron insists that his film is not anti-American. But, that is not the issue. The issue is what does the metaphor tell us and what is the truth about America and its relationship with the world. Telling the truth is not anti-American. And, dissent is not un-American … unless you ascribe to the view of the world where it is us against them.

Peter Hebert

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