George Bailey for President
Halloween is nearly here, and the next big holiday is Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas. But in our house, Christmas season has already begun, and our family can't get enough of it. We have already begun watching our Christmas DVDs.
And since my last viewing of It's A Wonderful Life, I now have a nominee for our next president: George Bailey. Sure, he is a fictional character, but as a country, we have done worse. And there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits a fictional character like George Bailey from being president. Presumably, he is a naturally born U.S. citizen and over 35 years old, so he is good to go. He's even the brother of a war hero!
And in a 9+% unemployed America with a near-zero economic growth rate, George Bailey is just the man we need in the White House. This is what did it for me: that phone call scene involving George Bailey, his soon-to-be fiancée Mary Hatch, and his rich friend Sam Wainwright. Remember seeing that phone call? Sam called Mary, and when he realized George was there, he wanted to talk with George, too. Having their faces so close to each other while listening to Sam on the phone, George and Mary noticed each other, and emotions ran high.
During that moment, their facial expressions showed not only their love for each other, but also their hesitancy to give in to it. Things were really touch and go. When George overheard Sam say something about setting up a new plastics factory in Rochester, George interrupted the mood entirely and encouraged Sam to set up has new plastics factory in Bedford Falls instead, using the tool factory that had just shut down, which left "half the town out of work." George's love for Mary was actually put on hold in order to pitch a job deal for Bedford Falls!
That is what we need in our next president -- someone who would put other things on hold and encourage investors to set up factories and hire employees and make a profit. George Bailey's attitude during those couple of seconds was part cheerleader, part Tony Robbins, part Chamber of Commerce member. In his actions and speech, he basically said, "Set up your business here and hire our neighbors as employees and we can make you lots of money!" His attitude was win-win for the investor and for the employees.
Contrast that attitude with the attitude of President Obama and some of today's Democrats if they were part of the phone call:
President Obama: "Uh-oh -- you are a rich person, right, Sam? You shouldn't be so much interested in setting up this plastics factory as you are in paying your fair share. Just as my billionaire friend Warren says, your tax rate should be a lot higher. There will be time to make profits, and there will be time to get bonuses -- now is not that time. I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."
Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senate candidate from Massachusetts: "That's right, Mr. Wainwright. If you are able to set up this factory, you will be employing people who were educated at public expense, in a factory owned by the bankruptcy court, and using the infrastructure financed by the City of Bedford Falls. You are really just an economic interloper. If you manage to make any profit at all with this plastics factory, you should be taxed."
President Obama: "Say, you're not thinking of having a corporate jet for this plastics factory, are you?"
At that point in the conversation, Sam Wainwright would begin thinking of setting up his new plastics factory overseas. Maybe Shanghai Falls instead of Bedford Falls.
If George Bailey could answer those concerns, he would say that none of them matter. Many people in Bedford Falls are unemployed, and a new plastics factory in Bedford Falls could employ them. If a rich person is behind the venture, George doesn't care. And George Bailey surely wouldn't want to discourage Sam Wainwright by mandating any maximum pay for factory managers, sustainable energy, or higher taxes for the factory. And this is why I support George Bailey for president. Jobs are jobs, and we need the next president to focus on jobs with the same intensity as George Bailey.
George's attitude will also go over well with business owners. Business owners like Sam Wainwright want to know that their plans to open or expand a business is something that will be welcomed and possibly encouraged by government, not discouraged, and certainly not regulated or taxed away. In George's case, he offers help if Bedford Falls jobs will be the result. Isn't that how it is supposed to happen?
And it pays off in an unexpected way at the end of the movie. Remember that when George is about to be thrown in jail and the townspeople start pitching in to pay off the deficiency at the Building & Loan, it is Sam Wainwright who sends a cable for $25,000, putting George's total way over the amount needed, and Clarence even gets his wings (how is that for a multiplier effect?). While watching that scene, most women teared up or even wept out loud, but manly men like me had allergy problems, nothing more. Promise.
Tom Thurlow is an attorney who practices law in the San Francisco Bay area and manages the blog napawhinecountry.com. He lives in Napa County with his wife Martina and daughter Rachel.