Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pennyland - Echoes of the Great Depression

This video moves me to tears.

I learned of it from the creator who very kindly emailed me saying: "This is not meant as a political statement, but rather as an attempt to put a face on something that so often appears academic." And although a picture is not an argument, it is crucial that we keep in touch with the very real and profound effects that ideas, events and policies have on the lives of individual human beings. Art helps tremendously in that task and thus is an essential complement to intellectual debate.

People are the reason it all matters. Here's a look at a few of our faces.

from the email:

I see that you often embed youtube videos on your blog. I think you may be interested in "Pennyland - Echoes of the Great Depression" which I created from an original song written by my brother.

I've also placed it on my website at

I thank you. In hard times artists, as much as anyone, need strong advocates to help share their work.

--Frank Thomas

Time to spend time with my family. Be back in about a week. This holiday season, I wish for you and your loved ones both spritual and material wealth, to be shared in an abundance of joy and peace.


Richard said...

I am sure you know this, but I had to say it, because of disgust over the damage shown in the Pennyland slide show:

These images show the consequences faced by any individual who ignores reality. However, if he manipulates others to ignore reality his way, then he transfers those consequences to someone else. In the latter case, he benefits whilst others lose. He may be a politician, a lobbyist, a journalist or a political philosopher in some academic ivory tower.

Regardless of how many layers of statist agencies, and business victims there may be, or whichever statist Ponzi schemes he influences, at some point there is some one, some family, that pays the price for his default. They are in the pictures.

It starts when Washington D.C. converts bad ideas into coercive social, economic & now Environmental 'engineering'. It is enough to bring one to tears.

John said...

While the images in the Pennyland video are truly heart-wrenching, and are the result of statist-socialist government policies, interferences, manipulations, restrictions, regulation, and controls of American lives and the free-market economy, another lesson can also be learned here. Even with all the statist government coercive interference from the late 1920s through the early 1940s, including that which lead to the Great Depression, the free-market – capitalism – was so resilient at that time, that despite the Great Depression, there was still 80% employment.

I am not trying to downplay the destructive statist government forces that caused the Great Depression, but we tend to focus so much on the misery and 20% unemployment of the Great Depression, that we forget that 80% of viable workers where still employed and working, and that it was only the free-market that finally got us out of the Great Depression, again despite the government’s interference. It was capitalism that kept us alive and fixed things, not some statist government program.

Both sets of my grandparents were raising their families during the Depression, and they were able to hold jobs during those tough times. Both my parents were in their late teens and remembered those very lean days well – no money, no savings, scarce food at times, etc. My mother lost a brother to pneumonia during the Depression years, which was even harder for my grandparents. Times were really tough. But it was the spirit of the free-market and the hopes it held that pulled people through those times and prosper once again.

However, that was then with less statism, and our plight is now with even more statism. It might be worse now.

Richard said...

John, your comment was terrific, especially with the addition of your family's experiences.

I too fear an upcoming depression that may well be worse than that of the early 30's. The American cultural zeitgeist is far worse than it was then, the Leadership is declining in quality with every election, and with Newt Gingrich already campaigning for 2012 I can see no improvement on either front

It is not ALL doom and gloom. The growth and impact of the Ayn Rand Institute over the past few years has been tremendous. I 'pray' that, not one but many, wealthy businessmen see the same future as I and that each choose to make donations to ARI of a $million or more each.

Damn it, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Larry Ellison, Warren Buffet, the various Waltons, Michael Bloomber, all the way to the poorest ($1.3 billion!!) of the Forbes 400 richest Americans... get your heads in gear on this!

Anonymous said...

Regarding your rhetorical inquiry on my blog as to the nature of the demand for public education, I would say that, unfortunately, public education is in tremendously high demand. If demand represents the ability plus the willingness to spend, the demand for public education represents the ability plus the willingness to spend on public education.

There are serious problems however with such political demand. First of all, public education spending includes spending by those who wish not to spend on public education: homeschoolers, economically astute citizens, etc. They are not willing to spend for public education - their spending is coerced through taxation and/or inflation monetary theft. These people are "willing" spenders in only an extremely deceptive way.

Also, there is no direct spending on public education by taxpayers/coerced spenders. We pay "taxes." Its the government, not the taxpayers/coerced spenders who determine the allocation of tax dollars. Its often the case that taxpayers/coerced spenders do not want so much of their tax dollars appropriated for public education. Others (in particular the less intellectually inclined ones) wish to have more of their tax dollars distributed towards public education. Either way, the government ends up overallocating or underallocating tax dollars according to different taxpayer preferences - money that wasn't even willingly spent in the first place.

Free-market schooling, by contrast, is, by definition, paid for directly by willing spenders who can control exactly where their money is allocated. Homeschooling is even more simple. Whereas parents paying for free-market education are purchasing consumer goods produced by others on the open market, homeschoolers produce their own consumer goods for their own consumption (education being, in this context, a consumer's good). This control over ones property and assurance over how ones exchanged property is used is a quality of the free-market, not of public education. Not only is public education not paid for willingly - what money is paid is allocated not by the payers, its allocated by the takers.

So a better definition of the demand for public education would be the ability to spend on public education plus the level of governmental coercion used to pay for public education plus the level of citizen complacency towards governmental coercion used to expropriate the funds necessary to pay for public education.... *exhausted sign*...