WASHINGTON, February 3, 2014 – I eagerly anticipated the release of “Shadow Recruit”, the reboot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series. Having first read “Red Storm Rising” in the late 80’s, I’ve been a fan of Tom Clancy ever since. The previous movies, save “The Sum of All Fears” (which irritated, as the Islamic radicalism was removed due to political correctness) were SO good.
But one of the movie posters completely put me off on this newest installment, despite its being released on the heels of Clancy’s sudden and untimely death. It shows the main movie villain with the words: “Capitalist, Terrorist, Patriot.”
Two things about it really upset me.
The villain, played by Kenneth Branagh, is a horrible human. But one of the three words that describes him in the poster is “capitalist.” That really ticked me off.
The reality is that capitalism is good. Very good. No other system in human history has done more to lift the poor out of poverty than capitalism. At its core, capitalism is about the unfettered and uncoerced exchange of goods and services between free individuals.
Due to the economic breakdown the country has experienced, capitalism has received a bad rap from many. But they are wrong. In actuality, governmental intervention and cronyism has had much more to do with the problems we have experienced. But this argument is complicated and more difficult to make than a simple “business is selfish and something must be done.”
Led by progressives in the left, many want a system of economic exchange based upon good intentions or selflessness. What is never explained: How this can be done or an historical reference showing that it has ever occurred.
Adam Smith said it best: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” The cornucopia of choices at the local market is due to a vast array of individuals, attempting to feed their own families and meet their own needs, working very hard to meet the needs and wants of others.
The irony of the poster, while decrying capitalism, is astounding. It is making the case to spend money on buying tickets to watch the movie. It is designed to appeal, to encourage spending, and not to spend it on all the other options available.
Furthermore, an analysis of the actual poster (aside from its content) yields more insight into the capitalist system. Hundreds of different individuals, all contributing their unique skills and talents, came together to create this poster. Most had never met one another nor known the result of the fruits of their labor.
Considering about all the various components necessary to make the poster, I’m reminded of Milton Friedman’s analysis of the manufacturing of a pencil. All of those actions done in self-interest and without coercion. His talk on the subject can be seen here.
So, in a movie poster that is testament to the brilliance of capitalism, a company that markets a product that exists only as a result of capitalism, communicates its distaste for the same.
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