There I was listening Bernanke’s press conference in the background, not on television but on the Fed’s Ustream channel. It’s one of the best technologies around but it is not reserved for the elite; you and I can have a channel on Ustream too, and instantly broadcast to the world anything going on in front of us. I could broadcast my breakfast to billions if I choose to do so. So the Fed uses it, same as millions of others.
Thanks private sector: you have done yet another thing that no government agency could have ever done.
Back to the bearded one. So Bernanke is going on about his miraculous cure for what ails us — he will print oceans of money! — and thoughts are going my my. So, of course, I decided to record them in real time by tweeting out various passing observations. These comments spin around and circulate here and there to interested parties in this stranger land called Twitter, where your communication experience is 100% tailored to meet each user’s needs. (You can follow me @jeffreyatucker)
Thank you again private sector for making a thing that no one could imagine only a few years ago, and giving it to the whole of humanity.
Some nice people at the Huffington Post noticed my tweets, and dropped me a note to come on their live show to talk further. How is this possible? These people are on the West Coast. No problem. If you have a laptop, you are good to go. No satellite necessary. No studio necessary. Just open, click, and there you are. How? By using a thing that didn’t even exist 18 months ago: Google Hangout. With Google Hangout, you can have up to 10 people doing simultaneous audio and video in real time. The camera automatically switches between the speakers.
By the way, all the stuff I’ve mentioned so far is free. Had I described this stuff to someone ten years ago, that person would have said: sounds amazing but surely it breaks the bank. But leave it to the supposedly money-grubbing private sector to give us the most amazing things in ways that astonish us, even by making them free.
We repay the favor by hardly noticing. In fact, we mostly complain when the service isn’t perfect.
A few hours later, I opened my magic box and received the hangout invitation. Here we are, all five of us piled into one geographically non-contiguous room. The host appears and introduces herself. She is in a real studio. The show begins. She looks like she is on television. She sort of is, except that it is the internet. Who can tell what’s what anymore? She is looking at a big screen that is actually our hangout, and that scene is filmed and broadcasted live on the internet. You only need to show up.
This show is embedded in a frame inside the HuffPo website. Meanwhile, people are commenting on what we are saying. Anyone can jump in and everyone can see it. There are only slight delays in the sound. The picture quality is incredible. The show is fun. There are no technical screw ups at all. It seems stable and wonderful.
Twelve months ago, this experience had just been launched. It improves by the day. The result is the radical democratization of media. Anyone can run a television show. Anyone can be on that show. It wasn’t that long ago when there were three channels and you took what you could get. That was the world as we knew it. We thought it was pretty cool. Now there are billions of channels and everyone has a chance to speak. It is not chaos. It is beautiful, a beautiful anarchy.
Once again, it is brought to us by the private sector, through free exchange, entrepreneurship, the private ownership of capital, and the price system.
Completing the irony: we were there to talk about a press conference in which Ben Bernanke mapped out his plans to undermine all those institutions. I was the only guest on the show to take issue with him on a fundamental level. Everyone else thought his ideas and plans were pretty good.
Free enterprise pours its blessings out over the whole of society; society repays the benevolence through indifference and even sympathy for its enemies.
Oh, by the way, you didn’t have to be at the HuffPo that instant to watch the show. Here is the link to the show, which you can watch right now thanks only to….
As to the contents, everyone else in the room presumed several things: 1) Bernanke has the best interest of the economy at heart, 2) the means he is using are the best way to achieve the goal of quickening the recovery, 3) the downside such as dollar depreciation is either not going to happen or is a good thing if it does.
I disputed all three.
1) Bernanke is mostly interested in propping up the system he rules, not the economy in general. 2) The means he is using will have no beneficial effects for economic growth, as illustrated by five years of failure, and 3) the downside is already here in the form of a broken credit system that is robbing the middle class.