Few people will recognize the name Billy Jack. That seems proper, as he was a character in a low-budget film made forty plus years ago. For some odd reason, one of the lines popped into my head today from the movie. I thought the line represented how the economy is responding to government efforts to “fix” it.
Who Was Billy Jack?
Billy Jack was a character played by Tom Laughlin in a series of low-budget movies around the early 1970s. The movies were “stand-up to power” and became cult classics.
As described by Wikipedia:
Billy Jack is a 1971 vigilante film. It is the second of four films centering on a character of the same name which began with the movie The Born Losers (1967), played by Tom Laughlin, who directed and co-wrote the script. Filming began in Prescott, Arizona, in the fall of 1969, but the movie was not completed until 1971. American International Pictures pulled out, halting filming. 20th Century-Fox came forward and filming eventually resumed but when that studio refused to distribute the film, Warner Bros. stepped forward.
Still, the film lacked distribution, so Laughlin booked it in to theaters himself in 1971. The film died at the box office in its initial run, but eventually took in more than $40 million in its 1973 re-release, with distribution supervised by Laughlin.
Billy Jack is a “half-breed” American Navajo Indian, a Green Beret Vietnam War veteran, and a hapkido master. The character made his début in The Born Losers (1967), a “biker film” about a motorcycle gang terrorizing a California town. Billy Jack rises to the occasion to defeat the gang when defending a college student with evidence against them for gang rape.
Billy Jack is a metaphor for people versus government. I am not recommending the movie(s) but have included a short video below.
A Remembered Scene
There is one particular scene that stuck with me. In reviewing it, it seems to represent a nearly perfect metaphor for what is happening in the economy. The bad man, Posner, confronts Billy Jack accompanied with his thugs. Jack is surrounded by overwhelming force, yet refuses to submit. The following dialogue occurs:
Billy Jack: I’m gonna take this right foot, and I’m gonna whop you on that side of your face…
[points to Posner’s right cheek]
Billy Jack: …and you wanna know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.
Mr. Posner: Really?
Billy Jack: Really.
[kicks Posner’s right cheek, sending him to the ground]
The key line is “There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.”
Government and the Economy
Government has surrounded the economy and applied overwhelming force in the form of outlandish deficit spending and liquidity creation. All of this is in an attempt to make the economy behave in a manner suitable to government.
Despite the overwhelming odds and power, the economy refuses to comply. Five years and multiple trillions of dollars later, the economy continues to obstinately refuse to bend to the will of government. Government has used its most powerful tools and the economy has resisted them all. In essence, the economy has told the government that they are powerless: “There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.”
Massive concentrated power is pitted against the market (more properly, individuals pursuing their own best interests). One side is ruthless while the other appears disorganized, indifferent and leaderless. It should be a mismatch of the worst kind. It is, although not in favor of whom you might think.
Government wants people to do things that people do not consider in their best interests. Its economic interventions are designed to alter behavior toward something the State considers better. In most cases, that involves consumption, ever-more consumption.
People are winning this battle. Freedom in the economic interstices, where men interact, still exists. Massive expenditures and force at the top don’t touch these spaces. Nor does it alter the intentions of free people. These niches are impossible to eradicate. Here individuals contravene all macro directives and force not in their interest. Bad man Posner and his analogue, government, cannot do a damn thing about it.