Did the nemesis of George Bailey subscribe to another economic system? Although not many liberals will call conservatives “potters,” those of a progressive mindset would identify Frank Capra’s greedy villain as a capitalist; yet, “the richest and meanest man in the county” broke the rules of capitalism. Capitalism is a series of laws against economic force, fraud, theft, and violation of contract. Potter twisted contracts to keep people in his slums, and to force the Bailey Savings and Loan out of business. Potter stole $8000 from Uncle Billy. Potter even used the force of the state against his economic foes (calling a congressman and calling the police to do his bidding). In the alternate world without George Bailey, Potter was both the economic and political leader of Pottersville. In so doing, Potter broke all the rules of capitalism.
By breaking the rules, Potter proved himself to be something other than a capitalist. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, and the Grinch, Potter subscribed to anti-capitalist economic philosophies. Interventionism, or the mixed economy, uses the government to intervene in the market, choosing winners and losers. The entire market is a function of the government in a socialist economy. In the world without George Bailey, Potter established a socialistic economy. In Bailey’s world, Potter was an interventionist.
Originally published on December 21, 2011 as an addendum to Ebenezer Scrooge: the consummate capitalist, or….