The Zeitgeist Movie Series – My Take

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Let me open by saying that these movies are a classic definition of Propaganda. They follow the tried and true model of massaging real facts to their own needs, and using strategic omissions or worse. That said, I have long wondered whether monetary system is the best way to organize Planet’s resources at this stage of evolution for our mighty civilization. It is rather clear to me that human race is much further along thanks to invention of Money and evolution of Markets and Banking, but is Monetary System in it’s current form truly the best method to propel us onto the next stage of evolution as a species?

For those not familiar with the series, let me start of with by focusing on particularly ugly misinformation in the films:

  • The films pile Communism along with Capitalism and others as a Monetary system. That is just a complete fib, and if you don’t believe me, just read the first 2 sentences on Wikipedia definition of Communism. In fact The Venus Project and various others like it are just pure Communism solutions, but of course they stay away from being labeled as such, seeing how Communism got nothing but bad publicity in the past.
  • The Evil “Profit” is really not an aspect of Monetary system, but rather a key element of Capitalism. Meanwhile Evil “Interest” is not inherently there to enslave us, but rather an aspect of Monetary system that ensures that Money is properly allocated and remain “active”, instead of piling up idly “in someone’s mattress”.
  • Artificial Scarcity goes hand in hand with Price Gauging and other Capitalism evils that are well known, hence US and most other Western countries have laws to abolish these practices and prosecute anyone engaging in Collusion or Monopoly. Free Market is designed by definition to eliminate scarcity and encourage competition, driving price and the Evil Profit down.
  • The current “Glue” of society, that which guides us as humans, is Money. This is how we got our Technology to progress as far as it has. This is the key principle that allowed us to combine “Human Ingenuity” of many people towards the common goal. Without it, we each would be exploring duplicate or disparate ideas and likely progress would be much slower. Furthermore, without it most likely no-one would take the time to fully educate our children generation to pass on the knowledge collected over time. That knowledge and education is what allows us humans to continue and excel – Standing on the Shoulders Of Giants as we often call it.
  • Ecological impact remains 100% relevant even with Money-Free society. There will always be someone who feels it is fine to dump pollution, as long as it is not in our “city limits”. Or another who is fine mining Lithium, even if it may collapse a mountain where 1 million “other” people grow their crops today? How will we resolve such disputes? Weapons?
  • Problems without monetary gain are “not solved” today – absolute fib, obviously. Society richest people pledging their funds more than ever now, and even large corporations are engaged with philanthropy, more so than ever before. Furthermore, most of humanity’s crippling diseases are being researched on a massive scale, thanks to donations and large R&D budgets of established Pharmaceuticals. This is exactly where Monetary system shines, whereas in pure Communism it is unclear whether we could guide so many of our brightest minds into these important common goals.
  • Planned Obsolescence is presented as big evil also, while I contend that it is actually great positive as our society faces accelerated progress forward. With more and more investment into R&D (mostly to stay competitive, another big positive) there are continuous new discoveries that benefit all kinds of products. Another thing one would learn in business school (ahem), is that various brands position themselves for different durability, which is signaled to consumers in price and generally in brand. I will fully agree that we have big issue with lack of good recycling techniques. There seems to be lack of incentive there, for our economy, but I am seeing increased interest there as well, as we dispose of more and more useful things.
  • Israeli Kibutz is mentioned as non-violent place, which is true. However, I think it is of greater interest as one of the best incarnations of working communism on the planet now, albeit on a small and isolated scale.

Technological Utopia (what they call “The Venus Project”) was envisioned years ago, and even subject of one of the original Star-Trek episodes. I still believe that key issues that approach suffers from are still unresolved, including all essential Human Incentive problem, predicting and managing demand/supply and covering all critical “professions” for sustainability. Presence of Money solves all these via signaling mechanism, same one that movie presents as “evil” and “leading to inequality”.
Similar ideas have been tried and failed, so far. Latest example, and perhaps most similar to the series, is the Israeli Kibbutz cooperative. In conclusion, here is an interesting read about how they are faring today.
Although one way to look at money is debt, the true essence that we use it for in our economy is signaling. Here is a simple example where moneyless economy runs into trouble: You have newly designed holocam coming off the manufacturing line. First one is due to ship tomorrow, and both 19 year old gifted woman and 70 year old scientist are interested in it. How do we decide who gets the first one? First come first serve? what if 70 year old scientist happens to be the one who found cure for cancer? What if 3rd person is interested, one who invented faster than light space-travel? How do we measure one contribution against another? Today the answer is pretty much Money.

Even better than Google’s 80/20 approach!

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Annual Tax Time – My Take

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hr block at home I have been working this weekend (not enough of it, granted) on organizing and preparing our household 2009 taxes for filing. There is plenty of time before April 15th deadline in United States, but I like to have breathing room as this process always takes way longer than one expects (and hopes). I have been self-filing via software for many years now, and this year again opted for H&R Block software for Home and Business, which is newly renamed TaxCut software from prior years.

First, I am not convinced that going through this annual ritual is good for US Residents nor US Government. Accounting is getting more complex every year, and way too many “grey” areas still exist in the code. On top of this, creative return preparers often taking on “risk” in your name, because ultimately each of us is fully responsible for their Tax return.

Solution: Fairtax.org – which sounds like a great idea to me! In fact, I say bump it up to 25 or even 30% ! It simplifies accounting for all, and should provide boost to our overall GDP, IMHO.

As an alternative, I say we should introduce government mandated accounting cloud. In fact, the two solutions aren’t mutually exclusive! Such cloud will have strict requirements for reporting directly from Point-of-sale systems, inventory systems, and other software systems companies already use in-house to track their own accounting! Only this time all these systems will be unified by single standard and have specific requirements for “calling home” to the cloud within 48 hours of transaction, for example. I know everyone is afraid of “big brother” effect, but accounting anyhow ends up being reported one way or the other, and providing country-wide standard should only help keep it all fair!

I am still blogging less in a futile effort to minimize “ramblings”. But I am out there on the Web, on Twitter and now on all encompassing Google Buzz, which you should be able to subscribe to via my Google Profile page.

How To Kill Economy in One Easy Step!

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chart_cci Well, perhaps I exaggerate a bit. No, not about one step part, but about it being Easy. It is a little harder for regular folk like me and you.

I’ve been meaning to post on economy for a while, especially on my dormant Econoville blog, but what finally prompted me to post is a call from my father, this weekend. He was really concerned about whether or not we were going to loose our home. You need to know that he doesn’t live in the US, so I was surprised to hear that even in his corner of the world there was so much “misinformation” on the housing crisis in the US, and the collapse of our economy.

I have posted further details about the importance of Consumer Confidence Index, at least the way I see it (and I am no economic expert). And the gist is – our fears and overall “feelings” drive our behavior. A lot of purchasing and spending is directly driven by our emotions and thus, economy takes a hit. This in turn hits us, which in turns hits the economy.

The bad news – Nothing is faster than big President’s speech, to scare us all into stopping our spending, as clearly seen in the chart above. I am not saying there aren’t real problems out there in housing market and in auto industry, and in Financial industry (more on that separately). But, rather than helping these industries, the speech caused All of us to cut back our spending! The Result – accelerated freefall of the Economy!

Onto the good news – I am a strong believer in Moore’s Law, and the related Singularity. What this means for us, in my view, is that this whole Economic Cycle will be shorter this time around. Perhaps as short as 6 months, and yet shorter in the future.

Laying blame is easy, but I certainly wonder – What, if anything, could have been done differently to avoid this crisis. Meanwhile, printing more money clearly turned out to be pretty good idea to boost things. Now, if only we can manage to figure out who to give all those pretty new bills to… Definitely needs to be someone who is a big spender!

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year 2008 Welcome to 2008!

I am not into putting together "year end review" of 2007, like some other bloggers, and I especially don’t like all the posts on New Year Resolutions for 2008. One of the late lessons you learn in life is that when you Talk about doing something in the future, and you keep talking about it, chances are you will not do it. The more you discuss doing something (instead of actually going for it!), the more you realize that it probably isn’t all that great, or something could go wrong, or just loose interest in general…

So instead of some empty resolutions, I took some affirmative action today, some first major steps, if you will, with more to follow:

  • First, I am adding Watch page to my blog. It’s right up there on the header, next to About Me and other pages. The idea is to aggregate some of my favorite videos in one categorized page. Right now it’s mostly videos I blogged about already, that I enjoy, but I will be adding some other fun videos as I come encounter them. Hopefully you will return to that page often (Bookmark it!) and I trust you will enjoy them as well.
  • Second, I am announcing launch of another blog called EconoVille that I will moderate (but guest posters are welcome). As you probably figured, it will focus on all things related to Economy and Economics. I have been fascinated by Economics as a science for a while now, and I find it especially amazing that even in this day and age with all the research that was done, Reality often drifts away from our Economist predictions.
  • I am also taking affirmative action on few other project of mine, but I am not prepared to talk about those just yet. Details sure to follow, I promise.

So, have a great new year! I will continue to update my Shared Deals & Blogs (on the right column here) multiple times each day with the latest bargains and major tech developments and news. I also hope to bring you more tips about technology and, of course, life in general.

PS: Do yourself a favor this year and start using Web Readers (Google Reader or Bloglines), it makes it so much easier to keep up with your favorite blogs and web sites! And, once you sign up for free account there, don’t forget to Subscribe to this Blog! 😉