Thinking Conservative: It’s A Wonderful Life, School Choice, & Sticking Together

GEORGE: Joe, you lived in one of his houses, didn’t you? Well, have you forgotten? Have you forgotten what he charged you for that broken-down shack?

Here, Ed. You know, you remember last year when things weren’t going so well, and you couldn’t make your payments. You didn’t lose your house, did you? Do you think Potter would have let you keep it?

(turns to address the room again)

Can’t you understand what’s happening? Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling. Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicky and he’s not. That’s why. He’s picking up some bargains. Now, we can get this thing all right. We’ve got to stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.

– It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The scene outlined above is one of my favorites from one of my favorite Christmas films, It’s a Wonderful Life. George is, of course, making the case why the individual member of the community who is being served by the local building and loan must not decide to pull their funds out at once or else the whole institution will collapse. George is having a hard time convincing the individuals to think larger than themselves and to consider the institution and what it provides to the community. I found myself mentally coming back to this particular scene as I thought about the recent efforts to push so-called “school choice” in Mississippi. I believe this particular scene in the movie provides us with great insight into our present situation in Mississippi public education by illustrating the main elements of the “school choice” movement in regards to motivation, action, and consequences.

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