Movies that understand economics #10: Moneyball

 

“I know you are taking it in the teeth, but the first guy through the wall… he always gets bloody… always. This is threatening not just a way of doing business… but in their minds, it’s threatening the game. Really what it’s threatening is their livelihood, their jobs. It’s threatening the way they do things… and every time that happens, whether it’s the government, a way of doing business, whatever, the people who are holding the reins – they have their hands on the switch – they go batshit crazy.”

Not only is this one of the best films of the last few years…It understands economics.   It understands basics concepts of economic reality that much of the world does not.  For instance the basic truth of “adapt or die” in business. When, as Brad Pitt’s Bille Beane observes, “There are rich teams and there are poor teams, then there’s fifty-feet of crap, and then there’s us” playing by the same rules that everyone else does, in the same way it’s always been done without any variation will lead only to being under fifty feet of crap and nothing else.  So, as in any competitive system, when you’re loosing you need to change the rules and ways you operate by…something that the American public and government might want to take into account when they make their demands that we return to be being an industrial superpower.  (I particularly like that when I looked up the real Beane, his biography on Wikipedia says that now that all of baseball has adopted his moneyball offensive strategy in picking players, he has refocused on defensive skills…adapt or die).

This movie even goes as far as to state, “adapt or die.”  The capitalist in me couldn’t have possibly been more in bliss than when I heard Brad Pitt state, “Adapt or die.”

This movie shows that you need to go for what works not what people think will work.  People counted steals (and a whole of other bizarre data as shown from the first recruiting scene…like if you have an ugly girl friend) when, as it is shown, actually getting to base is more important.  It’s similar to modern companies bizarrely caring more about stock price than profit, short-term profit more than long-term profit, the immediate revenue more than a product that will actually sell.

We also see that while this is in some ways kind of obvious as an idea in retrospect (yeah you need to care more about winning than anything else) people will fight it.  People will fight change even if it makes sense. Doesn’t matter that the current system isn’t working (as it wasn’t for the A’s) they will fight for the old way and refuse to even try anything new.  Beane had to fire people, trade valuable players, and constantly fight up hill just to prove that trying something that in some ways is kind of a no-brainer just to show it works.

It shows that the past is something to be learned from not lived in.  In fact Beane rewards Brand for saying that he was a terrible ballplayer.  He has no illusions about what his skills were and what mistakes he made, but, unlike most people, he learned not to repeat those mistakes in his own life nor would he try to help others repeat those mistakes.

And most importantly Beane (and the director of this film)  understand the importance of character and relationships over money.  I know I emphasize money a lot in this blog, because it is important than a lot of things liberals consider important…but he cares more about achieving something than money which is a correct outlook (I’d tell you what

Beane fought, and luckily won, against a system that was making all the same mistakes that are helping cause our current economic problem.  This should be one of those movies that every American goes to see and you should take notes.

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Filed under Capitalism, Economics, Movies, Movies for Conservatives

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