Economics in Snowden


Snowden is a 2016 film that was just recently released on September 16th, 2016 and was directed by Oliver Stone, a famed American film director, writer, screenwriter, and producer. Snowden is about the life of Edward Joseph Snowden: an American computer professional, former Central Intelligence Agency employee, former Defense Intelligence Agency employee, former National Security Agency employee, and former contractor for the United States government, who would then copy and release classified information about the United States government having mass surveillance of not only foreign countries but also of the United States itself. Throughout the film, Oliver Stone expresses a biased opinion on the Snowden controversy by portraying the man as a just hero of the people who was willing to sacrifice his life, for the future of the lives of others. And in the end, Stone creates this ‘incomplete’ feeling of the usual satisfaction of the end of the movie; instead Stone, using the real and alive Snowden, conveys the idea that perhaps because of Snowden, the rest of society will be able to discuss and  realize that government oppression exists and stand up against it in unison.

There are many examples of supply and demand throughout this film: be it substantial products or abstract ones. Snowden is put through various situations where he has to see what is demanded by the majority of society and how to give them the quantity demanded; and in addition he has to be wary of the necessary input prices and must reach the ‘market equilibrium’ in decision-making. The decisions Snowden had to make had certain marginal costs and marginal benefits to them that would either tip the equilibrium to the positive direction or negative direction: where the demand would be too high and there would be not enough ‘supply’, in this case supply as in released information about the government’s classified activities, and or the supply would be too high and the demand eventually becoming too low. His critical decision is at the climax of the movie when he decides to finally take action after viewing the corruption and blind trust and ignorance of authoritative officials inside the government by revealing this buildup of cupidity to the public, and giving the public the ability to respond with what they thought was appropriate. So with this choice, Snowden had to see that the marginal benefits would be greater than the marginal costs: which in certain perspectives is true. If Snowden were not to reveal this innate corruption, the marginal benefits would include anything related to his own life: friends, family, jobs, and more. He would be able to live a happy and stable life with the people he loved. On the other hand, the marginal costs would be the blind acceptance and trust the people of the United States have in the government even though the government is technically breaking the law of the right to privacy and the freedom of speech and what not. But as in reality, Snowden decided to reveal this with his complete knowledge of the marginal costs he would have to face with the loss of a happy and stable life because the marginal benefits would be that the American people would finally know the real truth behind the government’s programs and actions, and would be able to decide for themselves which was more important to them: security or privacy?

Every person must make a decision of whether or not the marginal benefits of a certain are  greater than the marginal costs: so this idea also coincides with those who work for the government. Do you think that the government has the right to people’s privacy without their knowledge? What are the marginal benefits and marginal costs of such action?

What do you think?


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