Movies that understand economics #23 and 24: Cash McCall and My Man Godfrey

Again these are another two movies I’ve already covered in a different series so I won’t waste too much time summarizing the plot of both.  But both films tie successful business to leaders with drive; people who can see more than just what is in front of them, but the possibilities of ideas, of innovation, of efficiency and of potential…

Just look at these two scenes:

My man Godfrey Godfrey Park: That fellow with the bundle of wood is Bellinger of the Second National.  When his bank failed, he gave up everything so his depositors wouldn’t suffer.

Tommy Gray: Not really?

Godfrey: Really.  There are two kinds of people:  Those who fight the idea…of being pushed into the river and the other kind.

Gray: After all, things have always been this way for some people.  These men are not your responsibility.

Godfrey: There are different ways of having fun.

Gray: You have a peculiar sense of humor.

Godfrey: Here we have some very fashionable apartment houses, over there is a very swanky nightclub…while down here men starve for want of a job.  How does that strike your sense of humor?

Gray: What’s this leading to?

Godfrey: Tommy, there’s a very peculiar mental process called thinking. You wouldn’t know much about that.  But when I was living here, I did a lot of it.  One thing I discovered was that the only difference between a derelict and a man is a job.  Sit down over here and rest your weary bones. Let me tell you what I want.
Gray:  Well, I’ll listen, but I still think you belong in a psychopathic ward.

Godfrey: You may be right, but let me tell you my plan, and listen with both ears.  I have an idea…

And…

James Garner Cash McCallGen. (ret.) Danvers: I consider you a pirate and a blackguard

Cash: I’m well aware of how you feel about me and I just can’t find it in my heart to blame you.

Danvers: In your what?

Cash: Because I don’t have any particular affection for you either.

Danvers: Is that why you’re out to ruin me.  Is that why you’re out to destroy the Scofield Instrument Corporation?

Cash: No one has to ruin you or your company General…not as long as you’re around to save them the trouble.

Danvers: You managed to get your hands on a company I practically supported for years.  Sixty percent of its product.  And the minute you’ve got it you refuse to supply me with molding parts.  What are you up to McCall?  Extortion?

Cash: I hope you won’t mind my saying it General but for a military man you don’t have either a logical mind or a very good memory.  You do have one very good military talent though, you’re very good at passing the buck.

Danvers: Now just what’s that supposed to mean?

Cash: This isn’t the first time it’s happened.  About a year ago I sold you a cabinet factory, Padua Furniture Company, a first rate shop you got it at a good price.  Now if I remember correctly, you thanked me warmly for letting you have it.

Danvers: Indeed I did.  I don’t always recognize a thief the first time I see him.

Cash: But when you found out you’d been offered the same shop a year before at half the price you started shooting off your mouth about how you’d been robbed by Cash McCall.

Danvers: You’re damn right I did.

Cash: Of course you didn’t recognize the fact that a year before it wasn’t worth half the price you paid me for it.

And this is typical of reality. Good businessmen create wealth where none existed before in a very short amount of time…but because other people can’t understand how a little intellect and a little hard work can make something that was previously worthless worth a fortune, they assume that the only explanation is something underhanded and deceitful.  That they’ve been robbed.  And while this is a common tale (see the election of 2012) only idiots don’t understand that it is actually virtue and ethics that create value in the long run.

At the core of all economic is human innovation.  Not necessarily based out of pure altruism but based on the fact that innovators love to come up with things and build things.  That it benefits everyone is just a fun side effect.

The trick to economics is to get out of their way, not regulate them.

“I get a wallop out of taking a shaky company and bracing it up.  Taking it apart and see that it runs again…but then after six months all the fun’s gone out of it.”

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Filed under Economics, Movies, Movies for Conservatives

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