A Conversation with Doug Orchard, The Power of Zero Documentary Producer, with David McKnight

the power of zero

After seeing what happened in 2008, Doug has been interested in creating films that can move the needle for society, specifically topics like the national debt, exercise, education, healthcare, and finances.

In 2009, David Walker produced the landmark movie “IOUSA” that exposed the fiscal challenges facing the United States, and in many ways, he was the person that got Doug interested in the topic of national debts. Films have a finite lifespan, so creating another film on the topic is another chance to reach new audiences that haven’t heard the message yet.

The audience for the Power of Zero film is geared more towards financial advisors. It is more focused on how to protect yourself and is less about a call to action to prevent anything. That time has passed already.

8 million Baby Boomers are marching into a future where tax rates are likely to be much higher than they are today given our fiscal reality. The movie not only raises your awareness of what’s happening, it also tells you what you can do about it.

There are a number of prominent guests interviewed in the movie and in many ways, it was a major challenge getting them on board. There are almost no documentaries being made on the topic and it’s a major hurdle to get people to talk about it. Many economists were reluctant to speak on the topic after “An Inside Job” came out and people saw the way the featured economist was treated. Doug had to get a few prominent economists on board before anyone else would entertain the idea. 

There were two people that really stood out to Doug who were in the film, Martin Eichenbaum and Tom McClintock. Everything Dr. Eichenbaum said would happen has come true. His message was basically “It doesn’t matter how we look at the problem, taxes are going up.” Tom McClintock was interesting for different reasons, mainly because of his ability to pull back the curtain of what really goes on in American politics. 

One of the things Tom McClintock talked about was a sovereign debt crisis which happens when countries stop loaning us money because they believe we won’t be able to pay it back. When that happens, that’s when we really run into trouble. 

It’s not possible to print our way out of the problem. Many of the social programs are tied to inflation so if we print money, the cost of those programs go up commensurately. If we can’t print money or borrow money, the only remaining options are raising taxes or cutting spending. 

Seeing what the real numbers are, and understanding the fact that even if taxes were raised it wouldn’t do too much to fix the problem, has Doug deeply concerned about the issue. There is no scenario that Doug sees where taxes do not get much higher than they are now and he’s expecting some tough times ahead for the United States. 

Doug didn’t want the film to be too focused on the doom and gloom aspects of the problem. It will get ugly, but it’s not the end of the world. 

When you get down to it, the country is either going to have to double taxes, cut spending in half, or some combination of the two. Many of the film’s guests believe that we can still avoid a catastrophe if we change things soon enough. 

The biggest difference between the Power of Zero and when IOUSA was released is the latter came out right at the beginning of the Great Recession. We have been enjoying an economic boom since then and that would have been the perfect opportunity to be fiscally responsible. We have never had this kind of deficit spending during peacetime in the history of our country. There seems to be no concern about the national debt right now which is why it’s so important to get the film’s message out there into the public discourse. 

The fiscal gap should go on the balance sheet of every country in the world. Nearly every country has adopted that way of accounting except for the United States. If we were to measure our debt the way that Japan measures theirs, it would be over 1000% of GDP. 

No matter what the numbers turn out to be, we are facing a huge problem. The canary in the coal mine will be when we start having trillion dollar deficits, which has since happened after the launch of the movie. 

The film has been theatrically released and now it’s also available for private or commercial screenings as well. You can obtain the license from tugg.com and can show the film in whatever venue you want. 

At thetaxtrain.com, you can select the quantity of codes you want which you can then send to your clients so they can get free access to the Power of Zero film. You can also go to realhouse.com and purchase a copy of the film as a gift for someone and send it to them directly.

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