Mailbags (and movies) need writers
A really long alternate history answer, plus something serious about the labor market
There’s a new “Women In Film Barbie” box set of dolls that includes Director Barbie, Cinematographer Barbie, Movie Star Barbie, and Studio Executive Barbie, and as the son of a screenwriter, I object to this erasure of one of the most important — and often overlooked! — roles in a movie.
If you think about the Barbie movie and why people loved it, obviously there are a lot of different reasons. But the foundation of the whole thing is that Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach took a vague business idea (“let’s make a Barbie movie with Margot Robbie”) and came up with a funny, interesting story.
That gripe aside, some good news.
We’ve got record enrollment in ACA exchanges, construction jobs are booming, AI does in fact seem to be useful in boosting scientific progress, and America’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling even as the economy grows.
Cal Amari: Alternate History: The First Continental Congress in Winter of 1774 sends its Petition to the King to London - rather than being delayed and almost entirely ignored, British Parliament and King George receive the Petition, take the colonial concerns seriously, and call for additional colonial representatives whose arrival in Spring 1775 prevents the formation of the Second Congress, and coincides with a general swing in attitude towards the opinions of Edmund Burke and his speeches/writings on Conciliation with America. Cooler heads on both sides of the Atlantic prevail, civil war is averted, and history books briefly mention the “Boston Rebellions” as little more than unfortunate bloodshed but a catalyst for a stronger British-American political union.
What does the world look like going forward? Does the USA just become hyper-Canada/Australia? Without the American Revolution as a historical event - what happens with the French Revolution? Future colonialization? De-colonialization? Political development? All the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries? Music? Food? Land use? The letter 'u' being used in random words? The possibilities are endless...
This really is one of those “all of subsequent world history turns out different” kinds of scenario.
I used to think if people had just been a bit more chill in the mid 1770s, then the US could have easily gotten on the Canada/Australia trajectory, and there you go. But realistically, it seems to me that the outcome of the American Revolution had an important influence on the trajectory of Canada. Some of that is very literal, like the province of Upper Canada (today’s Ontario) was literally split off from Quebec because of an influx of English-speaking loyalists. The British wanted to ensure the loyalty of French Canadians by promising not to interfere with their institutions too much, but also wanted to accommodate the loyalists leaving the new United States who wanted British-style institutions. So the colonies were split up to maximize everyone’s ability to get what they wanted. And that was part of what became a broad pattern of fairly accommodative governance in British North America, a pattern that was motivated in part by a desire to avoid repeating the problems that led to the American Revolution.
That leaves me inclined to say that even if cooler heads had prevailed at the specific moment of crisis, you’d mostly have been kicking the can down the road. The logic of parliamentary supremacy was powerful, and you maybe did just need to fight it out at some point.
Still, things could have played out very differently. One obvious flashpoint would have been slavery.