Thirty Years Ago, the Ghostbusters Saved NYC from the EPA

by Kathleen Hunker:

Moviegoers honored comedic genius today as Ghostbusters, the flick that made the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man a cultural staple, hit its 30 year anniversary. If you’re anything like me, that means a nightlong marathon, albeit on my home television and not one of 700 theaters rereleasing the film.

The Ghostbusters’ story is one that any liberty-minded American should love. Here’s a group of guys down on their luck. They lose their job, but instead of complaining about it, they decide to start a business—one that just happens to specialize in paranormal extermination. As fate would have it, they’re wildly successful.

But, with that success comes the attention of government regulators.

In this case, a lawyer representing the EPA, Walter Peck, decides to arrest the team for operating without a license. He confronts them at their firehouse office and demands that they shut their ghost containment grid down.

What follows is a classic example of government bureaucrats sticking their nose in a business they don’t understand and unleashing an army of unintended consequences [this time, hundreds of ghosts] on to the city population.

Fortunately for New York though, these pioneering entrepreneurs refused to abandon their great city to the machinations of a shape-shifting god of destruction—I mean Gozer here, not the EPA—and combined their energy to beat back the sticky darkness.

That’s why on this day I urge each of you to pick the remote, log onto Netflix, drive to a vintage theater, however it is that you watch 80s cult classics, and pay tribute to those men who saved New York City from the incompetence of the EPA.


Kathleen Hunker works as a policy analyst in Austin, Texas. She is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and the University College London, where she earned an J.D./ LL.M. in public law and human rights.

NOTE: A version of this story originally appeared on It was reprinted with the author’s permission.

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