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Harold Ramis co-wrote the ultimate libertarian blockbuster

Why 'Ghostbusters' is the most libertarian Hollywood blockbuster of all time

By Philip Klein | FEBRUARY 24, 2014
Washington Examiner

After learning the sad news that comedy actor and filmmaker Harold Ramis had died, I remarked on Twitter that the 1984 classic "Ghostbusters" (which he co-wrote and co-starred in) was the most libertarian Hollywood blockbuster ever made. I assumed that this was perfectly clear to everybody and that I was making a non-controversial claim -- even asserting the banal conventional wisdom -- but a number of people evidently didn't see where I was coming from.

To me, it's quite obvious. In "Ghostbusters," paranormal activity is becoming a growing problem in New York City. Government doesn't do anything to stop the problem, so private entrepreneurs set up a small business that successfully captures and stores ghosts — for a fee.

But then, the villain -- a regulator from the Environmental Protection Agency -- decides to interfere with the private business by cutting off their power, thereby releasing all of the captured ghosts. Here is the clip. The EPA agent orders the shut down of the ghost containment unit over the protests of Ramis' character, Dr. Egon Spengler, who says: "Excuse me, this is private property!"


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And there's

another Ghostbusters in the making..but Bill Murray won't be in it.

Ghostbusters III

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
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Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

The Music Man

One of my favorites is The Music Man.

The local government tries to ban books, the school board and Mayor complain about Miser Madison (who apparently paid for the Madison Public Library, Madison Public Park, and Madison Foundling Hospital, yes, that Miser Madison).

Make no mistake, Marian the Libertarian ("she advocates dirty books") is the one to bring both the conservatives and liberals together (the Music Man, himself, apparently arrived believing he was entitled to help himself to the wealth of others) and unite everyone to overthrow the Statists.

Luckily, Miser Madison (the late capitalist) "left River City the library building, but he left all the books to her," or else there would have been a book-burning and she'd have lost her job.

I'm pretty sure that a higher percentage of the population saw The Music Man on film than the percentage of population who saw Ghostbusters, but due to inflation, box office records are made to be broken when measured in FRN's.

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for a great movie.

allegory - ˈalɪg(ə)ri/ - noun - 1. a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

Debbie's picture

"We believe you."



Does anyone remember how much

Does anyone remember how much Aykroyd's character (Stantz) said it would be to fix the hearse (Ecto 1)? I made the same face Bill Murray (Venkman) did when I heard it. It still seems excessive in today's dollars. Can't imagine the hit it really would have been in the 80's.

TwelveOhOne's picture

Excellent post

Similarly, I never knew it was Aaron Russo who produced "Trading Places" until I had seen the reference to "America: Fascism to Freedom" here.

After that, I saw "Trading Places" in a new light (helped, of course, by the perspective change being exposed to this place brings). It as well is a very libertarian movie: the Dukes are like central bankers, trying to divide "the People" along racist lines by having them switch roles.

Whereas at the end, four "classes" of people (white, black, old servant, young prostitute) work together to defeat the tyranny.

Thanks for helping me think differently about it -- now I need to watch Ghostbusters (and 2, I think), as well as Trading Places and in a partial way, its sequel, "Coming to America" (partial way: a small scene where one of Eddy Murphy or the other main character hands a bag of money to one bum sitting next to another; the one bum blurts out, "Mortimer! We're back!").

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Michael Nystrom's picture


I haven't seen this movie since high school!

All of that libertarian stuff was lost on me at that time. Maybe it is time for a revisit of the movie.

Thanks for posting this.

He's the man.

I saw the movie several times

I saw the movie several times when I was a kid, but didn't realize the libertarian themes until I read this. I'm hoping it had a subconscious impact on me that impacted my views later in life.