Shuck and Jive

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Of the Fed, By the Fed, and For the Fed

Rachel has been challenging some of my assumptions about life in America.

(I have updated this initial post to be clear that these are the views of the film, not mine):

She has invited Shuck and Jivers to view America: From Freedom to Fascism. It is produced by film director, Aaron Russo (
Trading Places, The Rose, Teachers).

The film is one hour 51 minutes, but it is fast-paced. Here is a 37 minute interview with Russo about the film.

According to the film:

1) Our government is controlled by the Federal Reserve, which is not an arm of government, but a collection of private banks.

2) The Internal Revenue Service, responsible for collecting income taxes, does not do so lawfully. Meaning there is no law requiring Americans to file a 1040.

For a critique of the film particularly laws regarding income tax, go here. It is important to read this before you decide not to file your taxes.

There is a great deal more in this film which I found to be very disturbing. The film does have a paranoid/conspiratorial feel to it. But as the crazy man said: "Just because you are paranoid, it doesn't mean they are not after you."

I think it is worth a watch, regardless of your politics. At the least it will encourage you to research more on your own. Check it out!


  1. "The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." --16th Amendment to the United States Constitution

    Congress has exercised such power by passing the Internal Revenue Code, an early version of which in 1926, then the Internal Revenue Codes of 1939, 1954 and 1986. Title 26 of the United States Code (i.e., Federal Laws passed by Congress) begins "There is hereby imposed on the taxable income of..." and then goes through the various categories (married filing jointly, head of household, etc.).

    If one wants to disagree with the concept of the income tax in general, then so be it. You can make an argument about why it's unfair, and I can make an argument that progressive taxation is the best way (in terms of economic justice) to pay for the things we need to function as a society. However, the argument that there is no law requiring Americans to pay income taxes is demonstrably false and failing to do so will lead to serious Federal criminal charges.

    PLEASE don't tell your congregation that they don't have to file their income taxes, John. The consistory would love nothing more than to see you in jail nor for the sake of the gospel, but for being an accessory to tax evasion!

    America Freedom to Fascism makes some interesting points, but it tends to play kind of loose with the facts in the name of hysteria. Yes, the Federal Reserve was craftily assembled in secrecy (in my grandma's back yard--Jekyll Island GA) and is semi-non-democratic in nature, and that's a problem for an agency that is not directly accountable to the voters. The reasoning behind that decision--that politicians would play fast and loose with the dollar in order to get votes--is not unfounded, but the solution was a bit much. If anything, the Federal Reserve should be LESS responsive to politics, and the success of the European Central Bank (and the fact that the Euro is destroying the dollar internationally) points to that.

    Wikipedia does a fair job in summing up some of the criticism of Russo's film. I don't want to speak ill of the dead, but one of the biggest complaints about Russo in this film in particular is his tendency to "contextomy"--taking quotes wildly out of context. He takes a quote from Bill Clinton about gun control and twists it to make it sound like Clinton is advocating the secret cabal of the Federal Reserve running people's personal lives. It's a bit like "quoting" the Apostles' Creed to say "Jesus Christ...was conceived by...Pontius Holy Catholic Church...."

    I just think we need to step back and avoid getting hysterical.

  2. Thanks, Fly.

    Thanks for that information and for the invitation to step back.

    No, I make no recommendation to the congregation about filing taxes! I meant to report the film's conclusions. I should have been clearer that that is the position of the film.

  3. Good points Flycandler. I really hate to even try to get information by way of film or radio, as it is so much easier to distort and manipulate information. For example, I looked over the Wikipedia site you linked and it mentions this:

    The film displays a quote:

    "We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans." Bill Clinton, March 11, 1993

    What Clinton actually said (on March 1 1993 was:

    We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans to legitimately own handguns and rifles—it's something I strongly support—we can't be so fixated on that that we are unable to think about the reality of life that millions of Americans face on streets that are unsafe, under conditions that no other nation—no other nations—has permitted to exist.

    Of course, we have a slew of popular nationally-syndicated right wing radio entertainers who are masters at this sort of technique.

  4. Thanks, Bobby.

    You make a good point about film, especially documentaries. The more complicated the media, the more opportunity you have and the easier it is to spin and distort.

    Let's start from the beginning. What is this Federal Reserve exactly? Is there any truth in this film? Is this something for which Americans should be concerned?

  5. bobby,

    The full quote by Bill Clinton that you pointed out is even scarier then the cut off one. Why do the frontrunning Dems want to take our guns away when the majority of Americans support gun ownership?

    Look how the Burmese government abuses the Human Rights of its people.

    If you take our guns, we are defenseless against a cruel government.

    Why do you have so much faith in our government?

    And why can't I have a right to protect myself from an intruder in my home?

  6. Who are the consistory, and why do they want to see John in jail? God have mercy!

  7. Grace,
    John will probably delete this but just in case you get to read it first, the consistory is just a group of bloggers who are reformed, evangelical and orthodox and like to read each others blogs. We all agree that John is teaching/preaching writing everything contrary to Christianity but we don't wish John in prison. We just wish he would preach the true gospel. If you want to know what I thought of the movie you can go to my blog by clicking on my name.

  8. Rachel, I don't seem to recall everyone's guns being taken away during Clinton's term. Also, I missed hearing of this, can you point me to the front running Democrats who are for banning guns?

    Gun violence is a problem in our country; how can we as a society have a constructive discussion about this beyond demagoguery? Are there no reasonable precautionary steps we might take to curb gun violence?

  9. Welcome Viola,

    I wouldn't delete you. You are too much fun.


    Yes, "the consistory" is a group of presby bloggers who want to set me on the path of true belief. Viola says it all:

    "We all agree that John is teaching/preaching writing everything contrary to Christianity but we don't wish John in prison. We just wish he would preach the true gospel."

    They have the truth and they know the true gospel. God bless 'em. The thing that I do need to point out is that what they call Christianity is their understanding of Christianity.

    Unlike them, I don't claim that they are not Christian and I really am not that obsessed with what they teach or preach.

    But hey, it is all part of the church's struggle since the beginning.

  10. For an overview of the Fed, I checked one of my favorite sources, CQ Researcher. Check with your local library to see this issue:

    The Federal Reserve: Is the Fed too aggressive in fighting inflation? September 1, 2000; Volume 10, Issue 29

    To quote, paraphrase and summarize this issue for a relatively quick catch-up of the history of the Fed: “The Federal Reserve is not the nation's first central bank, but its third. Two years after the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, Congress created the Bank of the United States (BUS). Chartered for 20 years and endowed with $10 million in capital, the BUS acted as an in-house bank for the federal government, holding its deposits and receiving payments.”

    “The bank also worked to keep the currency stable and inflation low, a policy that earned it the enmity of many farmers. They were deeply in debt and wanted high inflation, which would make paying off their loans easier.”

    “After a long and difficult fight, the BUS charter was not renewed when it expired in 1811. But in 1816, high inflation following the War of 1812 prompted Congress to resurrect the bank for another 20 years.”

    In 1829, Andrew Jackson ran for president promising to dismantle the second BUS, being a populist who viewed the bank as undemocratic because it left monetary policy in the hands of a few unelected financiers. With his election, the second BUS was eventually no more.

    For the next 80 years the United States operated without a central bank. “State-chartered banks issued paper currency, generally of little or no value. By the end of the 19th century, the situation had deteriorated to the point where the nation's richest men were occasionally called upon to intervene and prevent financial collapse.”

    These kinds of bail outs prompted lawmakers and others to argue that a new central bank was needed to promote monetary stability. President Woodrow Wilson became a proponent of the idea of a central bank.

    In 1913, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act, establishing the Fed system that remains in place today. The institution was headquartered in Washington, but to placate populist critics who worried about too much power in too few hands, 12 semiautonomous regional banks were created.

    “The Federal Reserve was given a dual mission: help keep private banks liquid during financial panics and maintain a stable currency. To help the Fed carry out its mission, the law required private banks that joined the Federal Reserve System to place a percentage of their deposits with the reserve bank in their region. The private banks could then borrow money from the Fed. By raising or lowering interest rates on the money it lent, the Fed could tighten or loosen credit in the banking system.”

    In its early years, the Fed made a number of huge mistakes. Following World War I, the Fed raised interest rates, throwing the country into a recession.
    In 1929, the stock market crashed and the Fed tightened credit, worsening the situation.

    In 1935 Congress passed the Banking Act, "which centralized control over the 12 regional banks, vesting more power in the Board of Governors."

    “Inflation shocks of the late 1960s and '70s lead the Fed to make price stability its main priority.”

  11. Thanks Bobby, and thanks for the link to CQ Researcher.

  12. If you think yo can stop paying taxes go right ahead and see what happens.

  13. Bobby-Way to go buddy. I like how you stand up to the fear mongers and the right wingers. Maybe you should start you own blog. It's just an idea.

    John-For what it's worth from what I've heard you say and from what I read here, you are closer to the gospel than any other minister I've known. I appreciate your stand on justice related issues, the environment, equality of marriage for all, and everything else. Keep on doin' what you do.

  14. Thanks, Dr., I appreciate ya. It was kind of funny. As I was watching that film, I started thinking, "Cool! I don't have to pay taxes!"

    Not true. Not true. Ask Willie Nelson.

    I do have to admit, dear readers, that I got a little caught up in this before evaluating it critically. Thanks to you all for your critical eye. I think that is the value of conversation.

    Yet the film got me thinking about another issue. The U.S. is an Empire with military bases all over the globe and huge, huge amounts of money going into this military industrial complex.

    I wonder if there is merit to the argument for decentralizing to some degree. More power to state and local governments--more power to congress rather than the executive, might reverse this trend.

    This leads to another thing. If our congressional representatives didn't have to spend money to get elected, perhaps we could see more constructive change.

  15. Thanks Dr. Monkey, I appreciate the kind words, but I reckon I really don't need to start a blog, what with you and the Rev having all the bases pretty much covered. I am involved in launching a Library team-blog; we keep stalling out on our start date, but soon...

    John, I've wondered the same thing regarding decentralization; it does have merit; particularly with respect to empire. But regarding big-money campaigns, they should be ran as a public service; all media should allow public campaign time at no charge to candidates as a public service; these big corporate media outlets have fed plenty on the public trough, they could easily accommodate elections as a public service; there oughtta be a law...

  16. Maybe I am a little extreme. To see where the candidates stand on gun control, visit the site OnTheIssues. I think Kucinich is the only one who wants to completely ban guns. The other Dems and some Republicans just want to tighten the laws.

    I really need to find some middle ground.

    This movie is pretty extreme and many people may not be ready for it. The stuff at the end is probably not all fact either, and it probably is based on Conspiracy theories like Viola points out on her blog.

    I want to give my props to Rev. Shuck as well. I love his sermons and I believe he speaks truth in them! I finally found a preacher in N. East TN that seems to be on a similar "level of awareness"that I'm on.

  17. Rachel, bubbe, do you honestly think that if George W. Bush (or even our next President) declared martial law and revoked the Constitution and made himself (or herself) Dictator-for-Life, that if you picked up your shotgun you could overpower the US military?

    The argument that "we need guns to protect ourselves from a dictatorial government" just doesn't fly considering the nature of our standing army. And no, the standing army is not a recent conspiracy, it's been around since the early 1800s. Jefferson argued against the idea of a standing army and thought that there should be a citizen militia as the only military force (not unlike the modern Swiss system): every able-bodied male would be required to own a gun, and when the town church bells rang a certain way, the militia would be activated and every man would come out ready for battle. Jefferson was overruled, and instead we have standing Federal armies and state National Guards (ultimately under Federal control).