Magicians and magic shows no longer have the aura of mystery and intrigue they once did. Even sights appearing impossible are met with near indifference because we know there is a simple, reasonable explanation behind it, even when that reason is unknown. We are aware of our ignorance, yet are intelligent enough to understand that our ignorance does not give a magician any true magic.
The magic performed by magicians is usually a combination of diversion, distraction and sometimes even mentalism. This is performed upon we, the spectators or participants. This magic is an attempt to cause us to believe things other than the truth, so that the magician can benefit and we can be entertained. These magicians are also sometimes called illusionists. When they succeed, we believe things that have no basis in actuality. We believe things that are untrue. We believe false things.
Some people claim that everyone’s beliefs are equally valid. Where illusionists are concerned, this would mean that false things are true. If the illusionist is very good, true things might even be false. But when we go to a theater to see an illusionist, we enter a context where we expect illusion. In that context we can easily maintain our sense of what is true and what is false. Here, we expect that what we see and hear will be carefully choreographed to assault our sensibilities. We expect to be tricked. And because we have purposefully entered this known context, we are protected against trickery. We know that our ignorance will be exploited toward an end. That’s what we paid for. And in this context, it can be entertaining.
But what happens when we meet the illusionist outside the theater context, in the world where we know true and false with inherent certainty? In the theater we are vigilant, intently watching for any sign that might reveal the truth behind the illusion. In the theater we watch for the sleight of hand to be careless, giving up its secrets. And even when we discern no trickery, we are convinced from the onset of trickery. But in the streets, in the world outside the stage, few maintain such vigilance. We are a happier, more trusting people, in the world, that is a stage.
It is remarkable how we have come to create ideas and institutions collectively. Our social interactions at all levels depend completely upon shared beliefs. We evolve socially through collectively determining and agreeing to what is true and false, and to a lesser extent, though just as importantly, what is right and wrong. This process of collective determination is what gives rise to a society. And it is from this process of social formation, both ongoing and adaptive, that a sense and even framework of social justice emerges. As John Rawls says in A Theory of Justice, “If men’s inclination to self-interest makes their vigilance against one another necessary, their public sense of justice makes their secure association together possible.”
The trade and skill of illusionists rests primarily in the subterfuge of generally accepted truth. Perhaps there is an equally valid private sense of justice that can tip the balance of self-interest between people in favor of a certain group, who can, in turn, bring about even more secure associations between members of a society. A private, or hidden sense of justice. Of course, in the light of truth and reason, such obscure reasoning cannot hold. However, illusionists do not deal in the light of truth and reason. Their tools are distraction and deception, to cause the untrue to appear true. And they accomplish this quite reasonably. In fact, they depend upon reason.
But as we know, even well-reasoned things can be shown untrue, given enough devotion to the process of reasoning and the discovery of related truths. Reasoning is simply a process of logic. It is an empty pursuit without at least some objects of truth pulled from our collective baskets. Even with truth as our motivation, the more empty our baskets, the less likely our reasoning will be sound. The fuller our baskets, the more likely our success becomes. Illusionists have very full baskets. They are full of truth. However, their baskets also contain a a good many illusory objects. The tricky part is, these illusory objects are not necessarily false, nor true. They are illusory — a distraction. With these illusory objects in their arsenal, their process of reasoning can be formidable, because most of us don’t feel like carrying big, heavy baskets around with us. We carry just a few things in our baskets to help us along our journeys. And this helps us to think, well, if this person over here has all these many objects in their basket of reason, they must know what they’re about. I’m just happy with my little basket. So sure, I’ll believe it — I’ll play along.
I’m going to give you some objects for your basket. If you already have them, good for you. I know with certainty that at least five of you do, and two of those have some wildly screaming and thrashing eggs in there, too. Now you can both go hopping around pointing and shouting at everyone, “told ya so!” to your heart’s content. Just be careful what eggs you drop into people’s baskets, otherwise you’re not much better than the illusionists.
The last piece I sent out dealt with more humanistic aspects of our current financial situation. Many people were surprised that the trillion dollar bailout actually passed. Some of the more savvy wonderers question where we find this kind of money, to give to Wall Street. I can just imagine Scott growling, “we gonna pull it out of our ass!?” Well, pretty much. But not us, really. Treasury Secretary Paulson will tell the The Federal Reserve to pull the money out of their ass. We’ll just be going into further debt. There’s his signature, right next to George Washington’s face. The credit crisis, and we’re going further into debt to the bankers as well. You should see the interest they charge!
But wait, you ask, isn’t the Federal Reserve part of the government? Well, no. And yes. It’s one of the illusory eggs in their basket. The US Government does not create US money. The Federal Reserve is a collection of 12 regional banks around the country that are privately owned. The Federal Reserve can create money with a few keystrokes. Our government does not create any money, except for small coins from the US Mint. The Federal Reserve also controls the credit markets, which are currently in turmoil. The only ties these private bankers have to our government is a small board of finance people who oversee The Federal Reserve. These people, much like Supreme Court Justices, are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, only with 14 year terms. They generally outlast multiple presidents. However, after Bush’s election, some of the board members resigned their terms early for some reason, and the board is now filled with Bush appointees. They include bankers involved in the economic scandal, and economists of the Chicago School of Economics, of Milton Friedman fame. If you’re interested, you can read more about the Milton Friedman economic ideologies that first took firm hold during President Reagan’s administration.
By far, the majority of Americans do not know that the Federal Reserve is a privately owned central bank. Other banks own these banks, as do other people, both Americans and foreigners, and foreign banks. When US dollars are printed, we simply go into debt to these banks and begin paying interest. They like it when we give a trillion dollars to Wall Street. They also like it when they get to buy up other Wall Street banks, or other failing institutions. During the Great Depression, they planned ahead the takeover of the majority of US farms through mortgage foreclosure, where farmers instead became tenants upon their land. They also like taking out savings and loan companies, and any non-national banks. They like very much being able to control money, even as far as being the ones who create it from nothing. And they love war. We entered into the Great Depression almost immediately after their creation.
The Federal Reserve is far more a Wall Street institution than it is a US Government institution. The same holds true for the Bank of England, and most other European central banks. Their interest is not for the welfare of the people. Their interest is profit for themselves and for their constituents. They can take advantage of economies in our good times, and they can take advantage of economies in our bad times. They can also manipulate and steer the economy into trends of their choosing, while utilizing this foreknowledge. As such, all times are good times for the people behind the central bank. In fact, they rely on the “business cycle” of ups and downs, even the extremes of bubbles and depressions.
When these bankers create money from nothing, it appears in their banks. Then, they loan out this money and charge interest on that loan. Until recently, banks would loan out 10 times more money than they conjured. Now, in large part due to Treasury Secretary Paulson’s efforts before he came to Treasury, these financial institutions loan out more like 30 times the amount, and collect interest on it all. They also foreclose when companies or people can’t pay.
So there you have a few big eggs for your basket. When you know this, and rationally consider our economic situation, it’s not at all such a crazy-seeming situation. It is all very sensible. It is also all very predictable when you are privy to the detailed financial reports of Wall Street, which we are not, after so much deregulation. These bankers can operate in relative isolation from any scrutiny.
Our nation’s history is filled with struggles between private banking and government. Several times in our history the US Government has created its own money. The Federal Reserve was, I believe, the third instance in which money creation powers were handed over to private people. It was created in the early 1900’s and shortly after its creation we entered the Great Depression. Like now, massive credit lending was the rule. During this time of massive debt, the Federal Reserve reduced the money supply, so there was no money for people, businesses, smaller banks, and farmers to pay their debts. Foreclosures were rampant. Like now, even though the major banks are infused with money, they are not releasing it.
Some people speculate that the business cycle is related to the Federal Reserve pushing money out into the country, then finding a way to get it for themselves. This is the boom/bust cycle. Other people claim that the Federal Reserve acts in the interest of all people, not just the bankers who comprise the Federal Reserve. These people view the Federal Reserve bankers as a benign and stabilizing economic force. It is a pretty egg.
Several US Presidents have fought against the private ownership of the nation’s central bank, as have many other prominent people. The history is quite fascinating. Thomas Jefferson even warned against any private individuals having such power over our money supply. He claimed that freedom would not be possible, since it would create two governments, the stronger of which was in the hands of a few private interests.
The history of privately owned central banks can be traced back to England in the 1600’s, with the founding of the privately owned Bank of England. Even before this, struggles existed between monarchs and the goldsmiths who produced coin and had a powerful influence. They also could manipulate the money supply. One king decided that he would control the money, and crafted a stick with markings that represented monetary denominations. Even though gold coin still existed, these sticks were the only thing the king would accept for payment of taxes. As such, the sticks were in demand, much to the chagrin of the goldsmiths. However, their coins still held value. The goldsmiths simply found it far more difficult to manipulate the kingdom’s economy.
Our President Andrew Jackson when asked what his greatest accomplishment as President was, replied simply, “I killed the Bank”. By this he meant the Second Bank of the United States, which was our second privately owned central bank. It was a terrible battle, though, between the President and the US central bank. The bank even provided Jackson’s political opponent with millions of dollars to help defeat Jackson. This spurred Jackson to take his campaign to the road, to the people — the first President to do so. His campaign slogan was “Jackson and no Bank”. Jackson was re-elected. The chairman of the US central bank, Nicholas Biddle, threatened to plunge the country into a depression if the government did not renew his bank’s authority:
“Nothing but widespread suffering will produce any effect on Congress…. Our only safety is in pursuing a steady course of firm restriction – and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to restoration of the currency and the recharter of the Bank.”
The US central banks called in loans and restricted the money supply, making no new loans. The credit market was effectively closed. Unemployment soared. Businesses failed. The banks foreclosed on property. And the US central bank started giving money to members of Congress for their campaigns. Newspapers began printing stories lambasting President Jackson, blaming him for the depression. President Jackson was even censured by Congress. But remarkably, Congress was unable to override President Jackson’s veto, which effectively shut down the US central bank. After this, Biddle was investigated, refusing to turn over any financial records. He died, with many civil lawsuits still pending on their bank. Andrew Jackson killed the Bank.
It was in 1835 that the Second Bank of the United States was closed. Also in 1835, President Jackson managed pay off the national debt, after having removed US deposits in the central bank in 1833, moving them instead to normal banks. This was also the year that an assassination attempt on President Jackson failed, with both guns misfired. It was also the only time our national debt was paid off completely.
Then, in 1913, the new privately owned Federal Reserve bank was created and handed back the money power. You know the story from there, don’t you? I’ll leave it to you to find your own new eggs for your basket, if you like. Oh, ok. One more egg. Both the first and second national banks were partially owned by the US government. We gave the bank 20% of its cash, for a 20% stake. The bankers then loaned themselves the money to buy their shares in the bank. And they started making loans of far more cash than they actually had. It’s a good scheme, isn’t it? Unfortunately, if any of us tried it, we would go to jail.
Which brings up an interesting point. What is money? When you ask business owners how much their business is worth, you’re always given the same answer: it is worth whatever someone is willing to pay, that sounds good to you, too. Money is much the same, particularly since it is no longer backed by anything real. If we agreed to it, hairs our our heads could be money. I’m certain the Hair Club for Men would be elated. Money is something we agree to. You can print your own notes, if you like. Last I checked, it is perfectly legal. However, if you are going to exchange products or services, you still must pay taxes, in the money of the realm. Somehow it is very appealing to think of a group of people coming up with their own form of money, just measuring how much they do for each other, in a simple, nice and open manner, free from illusionists. Taken even a step further, it’s just nice being able to do things for people. I wish that worked all-around.
But again, in case you’re still wondering what is going on in our economy, I’ll use a simple analogy. Baby, it’s just that the vacuum cleaner has been turned on. It’s a giant one, and the collection bag sits in the homes of a fraction of that top 1% of the people in the nation who already hold the majority of our nation’s wealth. All the rest is illusion. And so is my analogy, to a small extent, since the central banks of nations are interconnected.
From here, if you still have any interest, check out the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. Pay attention to what is going on in countries like Iceland. Those poor people — I really feel for them. I hope so much that they find their own freedom and independence after the storm, though. I hope also that we all can gain some sense.
There is also a very long documentary on this subject out there. It’s about three hours long, but it’s packed full of good information, from a very irritating narrator. Money Masters, I think is what it’s called. Yes, it shows up on Google Video. It’s worth a look. It was made in 1995, and I’ve verified much of its content, though I can’t say with certainty about the whole thing. It smells of conspiracy theory. Just keep in mind that sometimes truths we don’t know can smell like a silly conspiracy theme. Personally, I don’t believe it’s a conspiracy. It’s just well played business, devoid of ethics. It’s the golden cow we worship, and the illusionist’s diversions.
Just look at them go! And while you’re at it, be vigilant. See if you can spot the “invisible hand”.