Our nation is going to hell in a hand basket. That's the theme of The End of Liberty, a new fear-mongering 74 minute video from the National Inflation Association, a mysterious outfit (oft cited by right-wing TV and radio host Glenn Beck) which immodestly declares its own production the "Most Important Documentary in U.S. History." Although the video goes through a litany of what it sees as scary bad things happening in America, its biggest pitch is that hyperinflation is inevitable; it will cause our currency to collapse and "civilization as we know it" to end. The solution: Invest your wad in gold and silver.
Now we all have a lot of complaints about our nation and society. An easy-going type, I am disaffected by at least a dozen outrages a day -- lately nosy receptionists at doctors' offices invading my privacy by asking for my birth date within hearing of the entire world. But The End of Liberty has bigger beefs, to wit: "the U.S. is no longer the land of the free." A system of unnecessary government regulations has destroyed the free market and sent millions of our jobs overseas; as a result, "we are slaves."
To make sure that it captures the allegiance of each viewer, the video lashes out at every conceivable infringement of liberty to which somebody might object. First and foremost are security checks at airports and buildings. I too think it's ridiculous to have to take off my shoes and risk athlete's foot to get on a flight, but The End of Liberty shows extreme examples of TSA over-stepping-- inspectors joyously seizing a cooler of food from a 93-year-old invalid and making a little girl cry by passing a wand close to her body, presumably to find her hidden Tech-9. Then there are those full-body scans (which the video calls "naked images") used at some airports to detect explosives like those carried by last winter's so-called Underwear Bomber. (The American Civil Liberties Union points out that people have the right to opt out of body scans, but if they do, they may be subject to more invasive pat-downs like the one recently endured by TV reality star Kim Kardashian.)
But there's more! Police recently had a teenager handcuffed and jailed for eating a chicken nugget from a friend's federally funded lunch! (Now that was pretty stupid, but don't stupid things happen all the time without the arrival of Armageddon?) The government is trying to shut down farms selling raw milk! (Never mind the potential for brucellosis.) The enemies are endless in number. Among them: the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] which "has convinced Americans that only toxic and poisonous chemicals called prescription drugs can cure anybody of anything;" the police who are "waiting behind every tree" to stop you from driving without a seat belt or from texting your friends; teachers because they manipulate test scores to make themselves look good and push students to go to college to get worthless degrees; immigrants who are boosting cable bills by demanding Spanish language channels; the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which aims to "eliminate garage sales to force people to buy everything new from Walmart" because it requires resellers to avoid retailing unsafe, recalled products; and even the Food Safety Modernization Act which the video erroneously claims will outlaw your home garden. (In fact, it would grant the FDA authority to test for dangerous pathogens and improve the agency's ability to trace outbreaks of food-bourne illness, which sickens about 325,000 people a year. Another thing the video's producers hate, though I'm not sure why: clerks who look down on you when you pay in cash rather than with a debit or credit card.
The End of Liberty finds we the people loathsome too. "Most Americans [are] satisfied with their unemployment checks and food stamps," says the narrator.
All that is bad enough. But, according to the video, our country will be facing -- OMG! -- a major food crisis which will send prices soaring. Glenn Beck on his November 8 show recited prices for common commodities which the National Inflation Association, the video's producer, insists will soon occur: $24 for a 24-ounce loaf of bread, $11 for one ear of corn, $24 for a 32-ounce container of soy milk, $45 for a 64-ounce carton of orange juice -- and, well, you get the picture. Before you start to stockpile tunafish and ramen noodles, however, you should know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting food inflation of about 2 to 3 percent in 2011 -- bad enough but unlikely to lead to riots. Even though the current inflation rate is just over 1 percent this year and was actually -1 percent in 2009, the NIA also claims that hyperinflation -- usually defined as a monthly double-digit increase in prices -- is inevitable.
So what does the NIA suggest we do about all these travesties? Write to our Congressman? Form a protest group? Picket Walmart? Stop taking Plavix?
Well, The End of Liberty's first suggestion is that you simply leave; according to the narrator, there are "now greater opportunities to live a happy and successful life in Mexico than in the U.S." That's one solution, I guess, if you speak Spanish, like spicy food and tropical weather, and don't mind being kidnapped by drug cartels or shaken down by the police.
But the only real hope, according to the video, is to invest whole hog in gold and silver. And that's where we get to the nub of the issue. The National Inflation Association sounds like it is a nonprofit organization composed of disinterested economists who are telling you what to do out of the goodness of their hearts. But I couldn't find it on the IRS list of charitable organizations. It doesn't seem to be a club; although it claims 18,000 members, they pay no dues. Nope, seems that the NIA, which is run by Gerard Adams, a stock analyst and former investment relations counselor who also operates a penny-stock newsletter called Wall Street Grand, has another mission: "to discover and profile companies that we believe will prosper in an inflationary environment. Typically we will bring to you producing, profitable, Gold and Silver companies with strong balance sheets." Most of the 22 companies on the NIA's stocks page are gold or silver companies. (I emailed Mr. Adams with questions about the NIA, but so far received no response.)
There's nothing wrong with gold or silver. They've both enjoyed huge price run-ups in recent months and can be a sensible allocation for some of your funds. But they pay no dividends, you have to store them, and, if you thought that cashiers despised you for giving them cash, just wait until you try to use that gold bullion to buy your next steak. Worse yet, the market is riddled with fraud. But, whether or not you decide to put some money in gold, don't make the decision based onThe End of Liberty which, in the end, is a nothing more than a very long-winded commercial.