Globalization in convenient movie format

Well I saw Syriana last night and I must say I liked it an awful lot. It’s about the global implications of addiction to oil, and includes a world-weary CIA operative right out of Graham Green taking “joy rides” in Teheran and Beirut, rich sheiks of Araby, power lawyer-lobbyists of the Georgetown set, and an idealistic dreamer in the body of a handsome hedge fund trader. As an added topical bonus there’s even a scene featuring a Texas oliman indulging in gunplay on a ranch stuffed with imported “exotics.” One almost expected a drunk Vice President to make a cameo! This is that film done by what’s his face, Gaghan, who also wrote the screenplay for Traffic, another film about addiction and globalization.

I remember when I was a young man back there in seminary school in the department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue (1978) and chanced into some Milton Friedmanites of the most doctinaire kind (is there any other?). Well they would go on and on spouting their religious beliefs concerning “free” trade and so forth, under the delusion that they were talking about empirical things and not metaphysics. (This type is given a royal send-up in Syriana, in the character portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson, last seen with George Clooney in Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, in which he played one of the dimwitted Foggy Mountain Boys in a fake beard and clownish hayseed atire.) And they would prattle on about how, left unfettered, capital would magically find its way to its most efficient use (kinda like how Lassie found her way home all the way across Scotland without a map in the 1943 classic). The point being that American capital, among others, needed to be free to find its best use in Peruvian jungles or Saudi deserts or Indonesian forrests. Capital knows best.

Well, I would say, that’s fine. But If we send our capital there, unfettered, then presumably the capital of the poor peoples of those regions should be free to come here. Absolutely! they replied. Only ha-ha those people do not have capital. That’s their problem! Poor capital formation!

You miss my point, I rejoined. Their capital is human capital. It resides in their noggins and perforce their bodies.

Ah, I love the smell of capitalism in the morning! It smells like a vast technologically-based unfathomable dark conspiracy! But enough for now, I need to go earn my paycheck.

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