School video wildly false and anti-capitalism

By John in Oregon

Making the rounds and being peddled into local schools is the Story of Stuff. The video by controversial environmental activist Annie Leonard mixes a decidedly anti capitalist message with kid-friendly illustrations.

But as FOX news noted some teachers are starting to worry over the one-sided nature of the presentation. Is the video an exposé of the United States obsession with things or is it a rant against free market capitalism? To answer that question FOX news decided to do a little fact checking. Ms. Leonard claims in the Video:

Now the reason the corporation looks bigger than the government is the corporation is bigger than the government. Of the largest 100 economies on earth now, 51 are corporations.

FOX news found this was false. FOX stated:

According to a 2002 study at the University of Leuven in Belgium, that number should be about 37. And even the largest corporation is tiny compared to some of the world’s biggest economies “” The error came about because environmentalists were comparing the sales of corporations to the GDP of nations, which aren’t comparable.

That’s a good one. Comparing apples to red bowling balls. Another fact check from FOX. Ms. Leonard’s video claims:

Where I live, in the United States, we have less than 4 percent of our original forests left.

FOX found this was misleading.

The U.S. Forest Service reports that 33 percent of the nation is forested, and that the number has been stable for about 100 years. It sounds like Leonard is saying that 96 percent of our forests have been cut down, but what she’s really saying is that some trees have been cut down at some point in the last 400 years in nearly every forest.

Well. It could be that for some people cutting even a single tree is the same as raping the forest and clear cutting the woods. I will leave it to the reader to conclude whether a misrepresentation is a lie.

FOX news did show potential bias in the video so I thought I would dig deeper and see what else I could find. Throughout the video Leonard uses illustrations to represent people and things. Here is how she talks about government.

Well, let’s start with the government. Now my friends tell me I should use a tank to symbolize the government and that true in many countries and increasingly in our own, after all more than 50% of our federal tax money is now going to the military.

Is that true? Are we spending half our money on the military? According to Treasury information the top four expenditures of the 2008 federal budget year are:

Health and Human Services.$701billion
Social Security ……………..$658 billion
Department of Defense ……$620 billion
Interest on the debt……….$550 billion
Total………………………….$2,529 billion

Even without considering the other departments (Housing, Education ETC) DOD spending is only number three on the list and no where near half the Federal spending.

But Ms Leonard saves her harshest condemnation for our economy.

And President Eisenhower’s council of economic advisor chairman said that the American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.

MORE CONSUMER GOODS??? [loud voice] Our ultimate purpose?

Not provide health care, or education, or safe transportation or sustainability or justice? Consumer goods?

Wow. The American economy cheating people by forcing them to buy things they don’t need or want. All the while the people are punished with no health care, education, transportation, shelter and food. I added the last two which are natural extensions. That is quite an indictment. The evils of the free market set against the people victimized by lack of heath care, education, transportation, shelter and food. Horrible. Just horrible.

Except. Did you notice the slight of hand here? The illusion the video creates. The illusion of a struggle between health, education, and transportation (the good) on one hand and the economy (the bad) on the other.

But, when I pay my doctor’s fee, write a check to the Montessori school, buy a car, pay my rent, or visit the grocery store I am purchasing these things in the economy. They are not separate things, not divorced from the economy, they are consumer goods and services that people want.

Should we believe the free market system efficiently provides things Ms. Leonard thinks we don’t need while suppressing things Ms. Leonard believes we do need? Apparently that’s the lesson Ms. Leonard wants to teach our children.

So what else does Ms. Leonard have to say:

I’m using a person to symbolize the government because I hold true to the vision and values that government should be of the people, by the people, for the people. It’s the government’s job to watch out for us to take care of us. That’s their job.

Very Lincoln-esk! In 1863 Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address noting the survival of a nation during time of war. Lincoln’s address was about the costs of survival and was not a vision of government values. George Washington likened government to that of fire, a great servant when controlled and a terrible master. Lincoln, looking back to the founding from the Gettysburg battlefield, said.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

I’m sorry Ms. Leonard neither Lincoln nor the founders considered government our mother to take care of us. The founders gave us liberty, we the people make our own choices and the responsibility is ours not the Government.

Ms. Leonard continues:

Guess what percentage of total material flow through this system is still in product use 6 months after their sale in North America. Fifty percent? Twenty? NO. One percent. ONE! [loud voice] in other words 99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport — 99 percent of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months. Now how can we run a Planet with that rate of materials throughput?

Is that true and if so then is it unreasonable? The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) divides goods into durable goods, non-durable goods, and services. To avoid the Bush lied problem lets look at consumption expenditures in 1997, the peek of the economic spending.

The DOC defines durable goods as goods with a lifetime of three or more years. In 1997 personal consumption expenditures, consumers spent $659.4 billion on durable goods (8.2 percent of GDP), $1.593 trillion on non-durable goods (19.7 percent of GDP), and $3.237 trillion on services (40 percent of GDP).

In addition producers spent $615.2 billion on durable equipment in 1997 (7.6 percent of GDP). Exports and government purchases also contributed to durable goods resulting in an overall total of $1.316 trillion (16.3 percent of GDP).

So, 16.3 percent durable goods is quite different than the 1 percent that Ms. Leonard claims. But what about that 19.7 percent of non-durable goods that were trashed in 1997. Horrible. Evil. Waste, unacceptable waste.

Oh, what was that you ask? What were those wasteful non-durable goods. Well the major components are food, water, clothing, motor fuel, heat, lights, haircuts, ETC. I guess waste is in the eye of the beholder isnt it Ms. Leonard?

I stop here for lack of space, not lack of material from the video. Like those teachers the FOX news story quoted, I also worry about the one-sided nature of the video’s presentation. The video ill-serves our country or our children.

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  • Bill from Philly

    Who is paying for the production and distribution of this [email protected]? Who authorized pushing this into 6,000 public school?

  • guest

    I think this piece would be useful for folks interested in researching topics related to the video. It might also be useful for an exercise in evaluating sources. I’m not sure it’s exactly fair to call Leonard’s piece wildly inaccurate, but some valid points are made. For instance, Leonard says over half of our tax money goes toward defense. The Fox and OC folks disagree. If we consider discretionary spending, then defense expenses seem to be well more than half of the budget. However, Fox includes funds committed to Social Security and Medicare.

    The forest issue is similar. When looking at original frontier forest, undisturbed and large enough to support their biodiversity, Leonard’s stats seem fairly accurate. However, the US has about 5 million square kilometers of non-frontier forest. If this area is included, obviously Leonard’s stats would not hold up. However, I think she was clear in the video to specify original forest.

    I believe fair responses would simply elaborate on different methods of measurement and comparison without calling the other side “wildly false.”

  • Manfred

    Manfred  Beglaryan                                                               02.12.2011

    [email protected]

     

     

                     
     HISTORY OF THE HUMAN CIVILIZATION

     

    At the beginning of 2008,
    the world economic crisis began in the USA and rapidly spread throughout
    the world. However, it is not clear what exactly served as a motivation for the
    start of financial crisis. It is supposed that it will last two more years
    topping out in 2009. Economic crisis, as defined, happens when the capitalist
    system becomes inefficient and may collapse. Certainly, the breakup of the
    world capitalist system may be prevented at any time with the intervention of
    the international financial inspectors. There is an idea that it is necessary
    to reconsider and improve the world capitalist system.

    The world economy has now
    stepped into a hard period and at the center of the global crisis is the
    American financial system, whose external debt is equal to 14,34 trillion US dollars.  The state debt is continuing to grow at $
    3,97 a
    day at the average. It may sount strange that the amount of the American debt
    to China is as much as 1.16 trillion USD, that is equal to 8,0 % of
    the US
    overall debt. More than a quarter of the
    world’s population is a supporter of socialism and planned economy which may
    serve as an example for building a new economic system in future.

    The whole process of
    development and formation of human society shows that scientific and technical
    progress bears a changing social and economic system and that the amendments in
    social systems are the result of scientific and technical progress. To get to
    know the future it is necessary to learn the past well. Let us briefly examine
    the economic formations which the population faced during in the period of
    evolution. Knowing the approximate time of onset in each of these formations,
    we may build a graphical plotting and with the help of the method of
    interpolation define the approximate time of the beginning of the next economic
    formation.

    The
    Stone Age:

    The period of evolution of
    human consciousness started four million years ago. In the meantime, the
    descendants of mankind turned into a group of people who created а hadron
    collider for conducting experiments on the level of God. The peculiarity of
    human society was the production of tools.

    1.Primitive
    communal system of economic formation: 40 thousand years ago
    supremacy of primitive communal system was set in. People started to lead a
    sedentary life-style and live in caves and in wooden houses and in future they
    learnt also to build houses of stone. Over the period of millennium, people
    started to prepare tools and instruments of labor, to raise cereals and develop
    cattle-breeding. Single families were formed and communities started to
    decompose gradually. This structure existed for 35 centuries, until 3000 BC.

    2.Slaveholding
    system. At the end of the 4th century and at the beginning
    of the 3rd century BC, the primitive communal system stopped to
    exist as slaveholding communities and states came into existence. Significant
    changes were made on the level of development of productive forces. The most
    significant change in the field of material culture of mankind was the
    developing of metals like gold, copper, silver, lead, tin, and since the 14th
    century BC iron has been developed. The pace of development of class societies
    was incomparably rapid than the pace of development of primitive society. This
    system existed till the 6th century AD, for approximately 35
    centuries.

    3.Feudal
    System. The 4th -6th centuries AD are
    considered the period of decomposition of slaveholding system as feudal system
    started to develop in the world. At the end of the 10th century, the
    period of development of feudalism came to an end i.e. the whole world was in
    the hands of the feudal. This system existed for approximately 14 centuries,
    till the 19th century.

    4.Capitalist
    system: By the seventies of the 19th century, capitalism
    was established in the majority of European countries, in the USA and in Japan i.e. the world capitalist
    system was established. The transition to imperialism was at the turn of 19th
    and 20th centuries. In the main capitalistic countries supremacy of
    monopoly was overwhelmed and productive forces rapidly developed as a result of
    well-known achievements of science and technology. This formation exists up to
    date (for 1.4 century).

    5.Socialist
    system: In the last quarter of the 19th century Marxism
    conquered harmony in the international labor movement. Socialism is the phase
    of establishment and development of socialist system, for the first time
    conditions are created for the unlimited progress of mankind on the basis of
    elimination of social inequality and rapid development of productive powers.
    The Communist Party of China assumed the program of struggle for establishment
    on all fronts of social moderation. Reforms were made in the economy, in the
    administrative structures as well as in judicial system. The economy of China has so much been developed that, as I have
    already mentioned a part of the external debt of the USA
    though small, belongs to China.
    Economic system with non-trade economy has existed since the first quarter of
    the 20th century, i.e. for 90 years, since the time of formation
    modern China and of the USSR,
    which does not exist now.

    6.Globalization: This system
    created cooperation between production of different countries, and lead to the
    establishment of united world market system and to the united bank system
    throughout the world. However, even at the beginning of its formation, the
    instability in the world economy started to strengthen and uneven development
    was deepened. Although globalization was formed decades ago, a unique
    social-economic system was not formed in the world as socialism was preserved
    in China;
    a country which has 1.3 billion of population and also in other countries which
    develop rapidly as a result of planned production which is the basis of
    socialist system. Globalization under the conditions of capitalism reduced to
    the world capitalisms and crisis on the exchange. Currently, unpredictable
    financial catastrophes are shaping conditioned with the unsteadiness in the
    financial systems and the specialists are unable to explain the ongoing
    processes. The absence of prediction by the specialists may serve as a proof
    for it. The system of globalization has existed for four decades. The giant
    financial pyramid created as a result of globalization turned into a soap
    bubble and collapsed.

     

    7.Armageddon:
    During the formation of Armageddon the human civilization will be
    destroyed  and the humans having been
    left alive will start to build the human society anew.

    Let us look at graphical
    curved processes of development of human society using the data mentioned
    below:

     

    1.Primitive
    communal system of economic structure – 350 centuries (from 38000 to 3000 BC)

    2.Slaveholding
    system – 35 years (from 3000 BC to 500 BC)

    3.Feudal System
    –          14 centuries (from 500 to 1870
    years)

    4.Capitalist
    system –      1,4 years (from 1870 to
    2009)

    5.Socialist
    system –        0.9 centuries (from 1917
    to 2009)

    6.Globalization-
                 0.4 centuries (from 1970 to
    2009)

         7.Armageddon –                                    (from  2008-           )

     

    For creating a graphic,
    let us take the time and the scientific and technical progress as a
    coordinates. As we may notice, the time is an absolute value and has dimensions
    while scientific and technical process has no dimensions and this allows us to
    make a quantitative and not a qualitative analysis.

    The
    primary period before the capitalist system. The scientific and
    technical progress was developing too slowly by linear law and so we will make
    up the graph with an optional angle at the abscissa and we will stop on point d
    (see figure 1). The last third of the 19th century and the beginning
    of the 20th century were marked by effusive abrupt growth of
    productive forces, by numerous achievements in the spheres of science and
    technology, let alone the nowadays’ achievements. That is why it is accepted
    that scientific and technical progress in the capitalistic society develops in
    accordance with exponential law

                                                     
              

                                                       
    Y=e X 

     

        Let us look at
    the curved line L of this function, taking as a datum the coordinate of the
    point d (see figure 1). On the coordinate curve of the abscissa (figure 1)
    erecting perpendiculars from the points D, E, F on the points of intersection
    d, e, f, with the classical curve L, we will have the origins of systems of
    capitalist, socialist and globalization formations. Now let us look at the
    curve from points d, e, f, to the curves 1, 2, 3 up to the classical curve L
    i.e. to the year of 2008 when the unpredictable financial catastrophe happened.

    On the other hand we may
    construct the graph taking the point t’
    as an abscissa of the year of the onset of economic system t’ as a coordinate of duration of economic system (see figure 2). On this graph we may
    view the section where the final three formations appear as in this case the
    remaining three ones are of no interest. On figure 2 it is seen that the
    formation of globalization has closely approximated to the abscissa. Joining
    the points 1, 2, 3 with a straight line and continuing to the line of the
    abscissa t’ we traverse it to the point of the year 2010 where it is equal to
    zero. Wherefrom it may be concluded that the next, one might say, the last
    system should theoretically start at present. However, no one thinks of it as
    everybody tries to revive the globalization formation together with capitalist
    system which will again lead to the financial and economic outbreak. Judge
    yourselves of the probability of the aforementioned statement. It is obvious
    that if we do not come to our senses and do not assume measures then the
    process of degradation, which has already begun, will lead to chaos and
    collapse of the civilization.

    Looking at figure 1 we see
    that before the formation of the capitalist system (up to the point d) there
    are no major achievements in the spheres of science and technology, it does not
    dominate, like after the point d when the curve line swiftly rises to the top
    under the suppressing action of the scientific and technical progress. When
    before the point d the politicians ruled the world it was quite reasonable and
    justified while during the times of the capitalist system the politicians
    became immoral and all their actions were directed to destruction. In the 20th
    century, they started two world wars and a cold war which lasted approximately
    to the end of the century. All the efforts of the politicians in the developed
    capitalist countries are directed to the manufacturing of weapons and not
    merely simple weapons but also weapons of mass annihilation. I do not wish to
    go deep into the details as you know it yourself, nowadays we may see toy
    rifles in the hands of little children and they learn to kill since childhood.

    Nowadays we are facing a
    deep genetic degradation of human biology in the result of intrusion of the
    genetic engineering in the production of food which may lead to the destruction
    of the most part of the world. 

    I have the impression that
    some apparently believe that the artificially made up viruses being in the
    position to annihilate the major part of mankind are the only solution to the
    problem of starvation of the one sixth part of the world population. But the
    problem may be solved by taking control over the birth rate as it is practiced
    in China.  It is even worse if the cultivation of mortal
    viruses is a result of the economic crisis i.e. stagnation created by the
    politicians.

    Approximately 30 years ago
    the night sky was a hell of a sight, the stars were enormously more visible
    than at present and they sparkled more brightly. We mercilessly destroy the
    earth atmosphere and ecological system of protection of our perfect and unique
    planet. During the US
    presidential elections, when the presidential candidates George Bush and Albert
    Gore were struggling for the post of president, the electorate chose the policy
    of Bush who was well up in weapons and wars, brewed war in Iraq and fought there for eight
    years. In the meantime, the scientist Albert Gore realizing the significance of
    ecology of environment worked in that sphere and won a Nobel Prize. As we see
    the incapability of dealing with scientific affairs and short-sightedness of
    politicians may have catastrophic results. Melting of icecaps threatens to
    inundate a part of continents, destroy states which will lead to wars and
    chaos. Our civilization at the present stage is developing exponentially, hence
    degradation processes also take place so the law, which means that priority
    should be given an immediate suspension of degradation processes.

    The pace of development of
    economy and science are closely tied with each other and this tie is developing
    more and more in future. It means that scientists must administer the economy
    and the science and not the politicians. It is necessary that the activities of
    political parties be ceased who lead the mankind to inevitable death.

    I have shown on the diagram that the Earth’s civilization must be eliminated at a certain stage of development. This is probably the universal law and it should happen to any civilization, fossils of which start to come to the end. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI officially recognized that extraterrestrial civilizations do exist, and this despite the fact that their existence is contrary to Holy Scripture. Obviously some compelling evidence was submitted to him showing him he crashed flying object, or fragments thereof, and the dead extraterrestrial humanoids. It seems to me that he could admit their existence only after that. This means that there are civilizations that have managed to overcome this barrier and develop further. As we see the graphs may not be considered to be the final verdict of the end of human civilization. It mean we can still find a way out of this situation and build a new human society. We simply must do this not only for the sake of all children on earth, but also the future generations.All the States were earlier guided by the principle – if you want peace get prepared for war. What a sad mistake, and, in spite of this, there always occurred wars. As you may figure out from the situation we are in, this principle was wrong. Currently the humanity is in an economic dead end, or rather a trap created by the capitalist system, with a monster called the World Banking System.There exists a shadow world government. That was the conclusion drawn by Zurich University expert scientists that made a detailed mathematical analysis of the relationships of the leading companies in the world. They came to surprising conclusions, finding that all processes in the world related to the economy, are led by one giant corporation, which includes the world famous companies. The economic crisis resulted from the irreversible process of globalization with which the system cannot cope and, finding no way out, it furiously rushes from side to side. Therefore, at present militant political leaders of some countries, led by the United States that – having briefly escaped from the default and impending chaos – are going even further. They do not see a way out of this situation and are very seriously getting prepared for World War, thinking that the way out is found in that. In this war, they will use all weapons of mass destruction of people, fully aware that in such war there will be no winners as there were in previous wars. Especially, after the war it will be impossible to build a states on the human cadavers, they are doomed to failure, in best case the fourty-thousand-year old human history will repeat itself.Russian armed forces began to vigorously protect their airspace, and the Head of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces doesn’t not exclude the possibility of large-scale war involving nuclear weapons on the Russian border. The head of the General Staff spoke about it before the members of the Public Chamber on November 17.In the near future the U.S. will be able to hit any target in less than an hour no matter wherever it is. The bill of law S.510 was filed to the U.S. Senate, which will make the cultivation, use, distribution, purchase or sale of food grown at home illicit! It is assured that privately grown foods often do not meet sanitary standards, and therefore threaten the health of consumers, which should be understood – eat up all we give you and shut up (excuse me, please, for crude expression). And they give us Genetically modified products. And the scientists know very well as to what such food presents itself who have warned since 1999 about the dangers of Genetically modified products (GMO). Currently 828 scientists from different countries presented “the Open Letter of the world scientists to all governments about genetically modified organisms.” This project with the help of the world banking system and the World Trade Organization will be applied in all countries of the world and may be the beginning of the destruction of the humanity by peaceful means, using, at first glance, innocuous food, which presents itself a genetically-modified organisms. However, unofficially, GMO food is grown and spread in many countries without warning the population, and consumers have no idea about what they eat. Shadow world government is acting secretly and cautiously, because as far as I understood their power is in money alone, that they use to bribe people occupying high positions in the governments of different states. The number of people on the planet today is seven billion, and in the beginning of last century it was only a half of it, but it does not mean that some atheists will in their own way solve the problem of rapid population growth on earth. This issue has civilized solutions, such as the one applied in China or the more commonly used abortion despite the fact that the Pope condemns the decision of the question this way. I dealt with this matter and can with the he lp of the Holy Scriptures easily prove that from the standpoint of the Bible abortion is quite acceptable. That article is found on my website http://www.tracts.com/MB.html, Articles by Manfred Beglaryan-Tracts.I think that the time has arrived to very seriously refer to the issue of removal of the politicians and political parties from power in all countries that have already openly and cynically threatened to destroy human civilization together with the overwhelming majority of people on earth. In the twentieth century they have killed more than a hundred million people. All politicians are potential killers, and we needn’t leave those atheists in power anymore. I have no idea how we can do it, but it’s the only way to save billions of completely innocent people from death.

    Instead
    of the United Nations we’ll have to establish the World Academy of Sciences, composed
    of scientists from all countries, and the clergy of all faiths. I think that
    along with scientists the clergy will have to occupy their rightful place in
    the government. Science and religion should be combined. The most direct proof
    of the compatibility of science and religion, as Max Planck wrote, is the
    historical fact that the greatest scientists of all times, some people such as
    Kepler, Newton,
    Leibniz, were imbued with a deep religiosity. This bipolar management should
    first and foremost completely destroy all four types of weapons and determine
    what social system we need to create, how to manage the world economy and which
    way to develop human civilization. I offered this version of the solution to
    the question as an example, and I do not think it’s the only one. We have no
    choice and no time, chaos and world war or a new humanity with a great future.

     

     

     

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