"I don't want to know how things are to be. I want to exert action for as long as I live, so that the sort of things that should in my opinion be, have more chances of being." That's just one of the many brilliant quotes from the 1967 television mini-documentary I want to share with you today.
What will the future be like? That's a mighty interesting question to think about, but unfortunately we live in an economic reality that doesn't allow us any time to spend on it; we simply lack the freedom to ponder on anything that doesn't have an impact on how we pay the bills for this month, let alone next month. This is the reality for a rising number of people, as we have to work more hours to maintain the lifestyles we've come accustomed to. Not having to stress about paying rent, buying food, paying for our children's education; that's freedom. Having spare time to spend on those children, our elderly, our hobbies, talents and interests; that's freedom. Knowing that when we run into a spell of bad fortune, when we have an accident or lose our job, we can count on the warm care of the society we all helped build, instead of falling into a downward spiral of debts and bankruptcy; that's freedom. It's too bad that so many of us have forgotten that, and instead believe that freedom means being able to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it, to or with anyone you choose; that freedom is something that's significant solely on the individual level. "Freedom starts with breakfast" is one other brilliant quote from one of the scientists in the 1967 look at the year 2000 I share with you today; he argues, correctly, that all the freedom in the world doesn't mean a thing if you can't meet the basic needs for a decent life worth living.
It's funny how the freedoms listed in the first paragraph can only be realized through government, in a time when government is seen by many people as the antithesis to freedom; the evil of taxation are seen from the perspective of the individual who's coerced to pay without his or her consent, and not from the perspective of the society in which that individual dwells. When progressives propose a wealth tax, it's seen as an attack in individual success, instead of as a golden opportunity to transform society into a friendlier place in which the majority of people will literally be liberated from so much stress and so much uncertainty. It's funny, looking at those old pictures from one year before my birth, to realize that capitalism's best argument for being the best economy ever, was the middle class. The free market marvel was advertised with a strong egalitarian argument, namely that almost everyone was middle class, with only a few rich who wren't insanely rich, and a few poor who mainly chose to be in that position because capitalism was able to provide a strong safety net.
Only it wasn't capitalism but the opposite; it was the socialist fight against capitalism that made possible the middle class and the safety net. Capitalism in itself creates two classes only: the rich and the poor. Fighting for better working conditions, against child labor, for the 8 hour work-day and so on, these weren't proposals made by capitalists and are the exact opposite of capitalism's goals. But somehow many have been brainwashed into the idea that capitalism was responsible for all of it. And things would be even better if we reduce government even more. You see, we've been made to believe that only markets can solve real world problems, that markets are efficient and that they make us produce that which we want and need. This may be capitalism's biggest lie, the notion that the game of supply and demand satisfies our wants and needs. In reality markets produce only that which we can afford to consume. I bet many of you very much want a Lambo, some might even believe they need one, but there will never be a lambo produced for you, unfortunately, because the markets only produce what you can afford, not what you want or need. If this was the case, hunger wouldn't exist, there would be no homelessness next to scores of empty, unused buildings.
Capitalism, the age of the robber barons, was tamed through popular uprising against the super wealthy who destroyed the economy by taking their capitalist game to the extreme, creating social democratic governments all over the western hemisphere with FDR as its most glaring example. This way we reduced inequality and managed to let workers' pay rise at approximately the same rate as productivity. But somehow, through think tanks exerting their influence on academia, and propaganda aimed at the middle class that was created by the government, this libertarian notion of "government bad, free markets good" got hold. So much so that the FED, the world's largest central bank was run by Ayn Rand fanboys for decades. Every time I think about this I'm taken aback by how easy it apparently is to paint over history, and make people believe the exact opposite of what really happened. This mini-documentary for me painted the same picture from a different direction; these scientists foresaw a much different 21st century than the one we made for ourselves.
The Futurists (1967) | Scientists Predict The 21st Century
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