A Beautiful Risk

We hadn’t intended to write a movie review today, but after seeing Risk! we had no choice. We recently featured an article by Laissez Faire Books business manager Doug Hill on the movie,  but we’d had yet to see the movie ourselves.

Now that we have seen the movie, we feel compelled to tell you just how good it really is.

It’s really, really good.

From what we are told this version is slightly improved over the rougher cut shown to the focus group at FreedomFest (Though we were at FreedomFest, we were manning the bookstore there and could not see the film then). In fact Addison was eagerly seeking audience input afterward on what could be done to improve the film further.

Though still not the finished version, it was obvious that the production values were high. The film just plain looks good and is a pleasure to watch.

The story itself is that of a group of treasure-hunting entrepreneurs who put everything on the line to make an honest buck only to find themselves harassed by governments at every turn.

We cheered with the entrepreneurs and booed at the chiselers, protectionistas, and the SEC.

But what struck us was the heroes’ unwavering faith in the possibility of good government…even as the government repeatedly tries to plunder them!

We kept hearing what government “needs to do”…and we agreed: stop ganging up with already big companies against the small but up and coming, remove the expensive barriers to entry in the forms of thousands of regulations for new businesses…

The thing is, we know better than to expect the state to reprise its role as umpire instead of its current role of game-fixing crony to big corporate interests.

Bribes–also known as lobbying–grease the state’s gears. It’s a matter of money. The big guys have plenty of it. The small guys who provide more than ⅔ of the jobs nationwide don’t have enough to compete for the government’s favors.

And then there’s the outright corruption between governments themselves that are just as destructive to our band of small businessmen. I don’t want to give everything away, but it’s an incredible injustice. Some already familiar with the story will know what it is. Others will be outraged. The movie is well crafted, but that part is especially painful to watch.  So much so that you may find yourself mourning a bit for the heroes, too.

At the end of Risk! we see the bittersweet results. Our heroic entrepreneurs survive and thrive, but they are forced to do it elsewhere. Their own government has made it clear that their innovation and economic drive is not welcome.

One of my companions said immediately after the film, “That is so…depressing.”

“What do you mean?” we asked. “They are expanding their horizons, going where they’re and they’re going to do fine.”

“Yes, they will,” she replied, “but I have children who will grow up here (in the U.S.) and this story means bad news for them.”

And that is the heart of the question that headlines this year’s symposium: fight or flight? The stakes are truly high. There is a vigorous political effort in the U.S. to do things that guarantee a poorer nation with a much lower standard of living. Does one stay in such an environment or does one seek greener pastures elsewhere (if one could)?

Those whose entrepreneurial energy could correct the mistakes of the government-induced excess and destruction are being financially lynched by regulation and outright attacks, and driven away, like members of a persecuted faith in less enlightened times.

It’s hard to say if the U.S. has slipped below some critical level beyond which it’s not possible to avoid full blown economic collapse. Has there been too much nationalization, too much debt, too much inflation? Has too much entrepreneurial energy been suppressed to provide the real innovation and growth government always promises but can never deliver?

Risk! beautifully presents a flagship story for this tragedy. There will be economic growth, new job creation and higher standards of living. But if we remain on our current course, none of those things will be seen in the U.S.


Gary Gibson
Managing editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder