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Friday, January 2, 2015

Capitalism lessons from Dallas Buyer's Club

I finally watched Dallas Buyer's Club yesterday - amazing movie and acting - definitely deserved its 3 Oscars and 6 nominations. But boy the movie also had a most interesting set of themes related to capitalism theories! Spoiler alert ahead.

The movie portrays real life hero Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey's character) as a true blue Texan with a devil-may-care attitude towards rules. When Ron sees demand, he wants to create a market. Pure free market approach. And free markets worked so well in this case. In the infancy of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, when US regulators were moving far too slow in allowing effective new drugs to launch in the US, unauthorized buyer's markets created pockets of solutions by importing drugs and distributing them to dying patients. Supply finally met demand, bypassing market constraints, even if in a quasi-legal way. +1 for capitalism.

Funny thing is, in the same token the movie also dramatically portrays the perils of naked capitalism. The FDA clearly put the interest of big pharma companies ahead of public health - and dying patients. Its a typical case of legitimizing corporate profit seeking behavior through lobbying. Cue John Oliver's amazing humor on regulators' failing their roles, this time in the case of net neutrality. Non-video link here.

Getting back to Dallas, what can one say? Ironic moral of the story: Capitalism partially solved a problem that capitalism created!