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Rooting for Old Man Potter


In a recent post, I linked to "The Economics of Santa's Workshop" and "Scrooge Defended," both classics from Mises.org.

I didn't link to Mises.org's "Christmas Movies and Bad Economics," which deals, in part, with Frank Capra's warped holiday smear against capitalism (when it's his hero, George Bailey, who explains and legitimizes fractional-reserve banking to a frightened crowd ready to start a bank run, calming them and convincing them — and us — to trust the criminal FRB scam just a little while longer).

While our hero is the handsome, idealistic, small-town fractional-reserve banker, the grumpy old villain, Mr. Potter, is a profit-grubbing slumlord.

What is not explained — what is never explained about the vindictive tycoons of fiction — is where Potter gets his money. (In the depths of the Depression, he is waited on by liveried servants.) He can't have made a fortune renting a few hovels, and none of the properties he owns will bring in a penny unless they offer something people want. So, although he is shown doing nothing but pushing other people around, Potter must be providing a valuable service or selling something in great demand.

There's also this much longer list of links from Justin Ptak: "'It's a Wonderful Life"' Deconstructed," including Gary North's "Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!" as well as hints at some unscrupulous activity between the left-wing Frank Capra and his right-wing star, Jimmy Stewart. (And his right-wing spymaster, J. Edgar Hoover!)

My favorite treatment of It's a Wonderful Life ignores all these emotionally and politically manipulative issues (as, I suspect, do most viewers) and goes to the less ideological heart of the story:

"We Need an Angel Like Clarence"
by Lew Rockwell

Angel Clarence

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