We’ve been hearing increasing buzz about Generation Zero, a documentary about the U.S. financial system that premiered at the National Tea Party Convention earlier this year. The trailer is out, and it belies a film that’s nothing if not “interesting.”
The trailer flashes shows of burning dollar bills, shady handshakes, and clips of tornadoes ripping through towns as voices describe the destruction of our financial system. Dramatic music plays, a woman’s voice describes paying $600 in utility bills, and apocalyptic imagery flashes by at a quick pace. What does footage of a plane bursting into flames have to do with the excessive printing of money, and why are they layered back to back? Oh, because they’re both scary.
Narrators talk about “lie after lie after lie” as we’re shown the facades of the office buildings of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Have big banks done immoral things and mishandled taxpayer funds? Sure seems like it. Does that mean that Armageddon has come? I’m less convinced. Although there are probably some relevant points in the film itself, I’m automatically skeptical of a trailer in which the destruction of plane crashes and tornadoes is conflated with banking failures. For all of Lehman Brothers’ faults, it is not the cause of summer hurricanes or our current oppressive heat. Sorry, guys.
What’s most important is to treat this issue, like all other financial questions, with a reasoned, calm eye. Were there failures in the banking system? Certainly. But, when we talk about them, let’s do it in a reasoned, academic way. Although people around the country are struggling financially and many have the right to be disgruntled, we need to remain on the lookout for exaggeration and keep everything in perspective.
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