What Hollywood can teach us about the Washington, DC establishment … and Obamanomics
By Rob Carlson
On November 3, 2009, a new movie opened in theatres, starring one of America’s favorite sons — George Clooney. In the film, Men Who Stare At Goats, the government gathers and trains a group of people with “special” mental capabilities. These men of rare ability are to be trained as Top Secret… Psychic Soldiers. The film was, ostensibly, “based in a top-secret true story.”
Employing their special “abilities,” these “Jedi” warrior monks would pass through walls, and see into the future. They would fight – not with guns, but with their minds. Directing their gaze at the enemy, they would concentrate intently, with brows furled and muscles tensed. After a few moments, the subject, unable to withstand their sheer willpower, their mental force, the raw psychic energy, would fall over… dead.
Hollywood Meets Reality
Men Who Stare at Goats is a light, absurd film. A comedy. It is meant for laughs – and it gets them because the whole premise is so… nuts. But, here we are. It’s February of 2010. And in this film, we are witnessing “life imitating art.” Or is this movie imitating… real life?
Today in Washington, DC, at the top levels of government, there is a group of individuals that believes that, by sheer force of will, that they can shape our beliefs, in effect, creating their own reality. Among them are the Secretary of the Treasury (Tim Geitner), the Chairman of the Fed (“Helicopter” Ben Bernanke), and our very own President Obama. We see them on TV regularly.
They gaze at the TV camera, concentrate, speak, and…
- Expect us to believe the government really does, in policy and practice, desire strong-dollar. Poor Timmy Geitner’s mental abilities didn’t sway – or even impress — a group of Chinese college students in his audience last year. They laughed when he talked about the administrations “strong dollar” policy.
- They would have us believe that their stimulus has created some half-a-million jobs. A few days after that “good news” pronouncement, the “official” unemployment number went up to 10.2%. Unofficially it’s more like 17% according to StadowStats.
These Washington Jedi hope that they can, with their furled brows, stage makeup and mock sincerity make us…
- Believe that the economy is rebounding – it’s the “green shoots.”
- Return to the way things were before credit market locked up, and the stock market crashed in the fall of 2008 – spending, rather than saving.
- Burn with desire to pour our money back into the stock market. (“…what suckers…”)
- Trust this country’s economists – those that ALL missed the real estate bubble, the credit freeze, and the stock market crash last fall.
- Blindly leave our investments and retirement money to… Wall Street flunkies. The same Wall Street that has sucked the life out of this economy with exotic derivatives, and credit default swaps, etc.
What we are seeing coming from Washington’s talking heads today it’s not called psychic warfare. It has a more elegant, polished name: Management of Perception Economics (MOPE). It is a school of economic thought, based on applied psychology. They are, through their words and actions, showing us they believe we can be manipulated, and our actions modified. That we can be pulled in any direction they choose.
They think it, they say it, we DO it. (They HOPE.) Then they pray, intently, and with furrowed brows, for all they are worth, that we are gullible enough to believe their TV sound bites. It’s also known as self-fulfilling prophecy.
They think we are simple and stupid — weak-willed fools.
And you know what? For the most part, they are right.
“Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading, an easy prey to sensations and cheap appeals.” – G.M. Trevelyan, English Social History (1942)
The education system in the U.S. does a poor job of teaching one to think independently and think critically. Most citizens of this country are totally oblivious to what is going on. They just take the words of the talking heads at face value, and go back to watching Survivor.
The great majority of citizens in this country are not prepared to make any investment decisions for themselves. They are not equipped to prepare for their own retirement – without handing it all over to some fund manager or their company’s 401k plan administrator. We know how well that worked in the recent market “correction.” Fund managers lost their (and their clients’) shirts…
Consider how many citizens fell for the “adjustable ARM” when they bought their homes. They didn’t understand the meaning of “adjustable” in “adjustable-rate mortgages.” Interest rates have and continue to reset. Now huge numbers are losing their homes to foreclosure. With the teaser rates jacked up, they can no longer afford the payments.
Yes, banks should be keelhauled for offering these adjustable-rate loans. But, if citizens had been equipped to think – analytically, critically, independently – they would have understood what happens when interest rates go up. It’s not rocket science. But it’s too late now – they are stuck.
“Education made us what we are.” — Helvetius, French Philosopher, De L’esprit (1758)
The days of mindlessly giving our retirement funds to some faceless fund manager, then hoping they are competent, intelligent, and able to manage it for us, are past. How much of your retirement savings did you lose last fall? 40%? (Can you look at your reflection in the mirror, and say you are NOW comfortable giving MORE of your retirement money to… some “expert” to manage?)
If you have any hope of protecting your wealth – let alone growing it – in the current environment, you can’t leave it to the wisdom others. You can’t rely on them. And too many of them have proven they can’t even be trusted.
We need to be able to make intelligent investment decisions for ourselves. This does NOT mean that we all have to become financial analysts, CPAs, or CFAs. But, we DO need to develop SOME analytical ability.
Isn’t it time we learn how to take responsibility for ourselves – and for our own investments?