Dan Popp
Dunceberry
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By Dan Popp
June 26, 2012

The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy. — Milton Friedman

A good illustration [pardon the pun] of the compounded layers of myth that leftists tell themselves can be found in the "Doonesbury" comic strip published 6/24/12. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau has given us a case study in Upside-Down Syndrome.

The art is repetitive filler — you aren't missing anything if I merely relate the dialog. Here is the entire strip:

HI, KIDS! EVER WONDER WHAT THE DIFFERENCE IS BETWEEN RUNNING THE COUNTRY AND RUNNING A PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM LIKE BAIN CAPITAL? WELL, IT'S SIMPLE!

THIS IS RUNNING THE COUNTRY...

MR. PRESIDENT! UNEMPLOYMENT IS DOWN!

THAT'S GREAT!

AND THIS.

MR. PRESIDENT! UNEMPLOYMENT IS UP!

THAT'S TERRIBLE!

AND THIS IS RUNNING BAIN CAPITAL...

MR. ROMNEY! WE CREATED 10,000 JOBS AND MADE $100 MILLION!

THAT'S GREAT!

AND THIS.

MR. ROMNEY! WE DESTROYED 10,000 JOBS AND MADE $100 MILLION!

THAT'S GREAT!

SEE THE DIFFERENCE? NOW READ IT AGAIN! WAGING CLASS WARFARE HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER!

It's naive, at best, to suppose that President Obama would cheer when more people are working, and frown when fewer people have jobs. Both major parties, but the Democrats especially, have set up the incentives in such a way that, when citizens lose, they win.

When people lose their jobs, politicians get to play savior, increasing their own power. And so the messiah-wannabes disemploy people through minimum wage laws, taxes and regulations on businesses, infringements on property rights and other unconstitutional interference in private affairs. They "extend" unemployment benefits; a policy that has been shown in studies all over the world to deepen and lengthen unemployment.

It would be a fantasy worthy of Tolkien or Rowling to say that most people in our current government, including the President, want all Americans to be fully employed and enjoying their lives free from any perceptible need of government "assistance." Who would ever vote for a Democrat if she had no candy to give away?

The harsh truth is that our leaders could make a significant dent in unemployment tomorrow if they wanted to. They would only have to stop making workers artificially unemployable, and stop intimidating and penalizing businesses for hiring people. Since Congress and the Prez will not do that, the only rational conclusion is that they want lots of people out of work.

Poor people do not need the government, but this government needs poor people.

Moving on to the imaginary "Romney" conversation in the cartoon: "We destroyed 10,000 jobs and made $100 million." In the cartoonist's cramped cranium this hypothetical "$100 million" comes out of nowhere. There is no value created to earn it; there are no efficiencies realized; no gangrenous limb is severed so that the rest of the body may live. Trudeau doesn't see the value represented by the money; therefore there is no value. I suppose all economics is voodoo economics if you don't understand economics.

I'm looking at those 10,000 workers and saying, "How productive would the average worker have to be in order to make me more than $100 million, and how soon?" No self-respecting greedy capitalist pig would be satisfied with 100 million, if he could have 500 million by just letting things continue as they are. But the fact that their own assumptions lead to nonsense does not bother the refugees from reality; they're very comfortable in their home behind the looking glass.

In their minds this is a magic lamp story, with Romney as the evil genie granting himself wishes, and deflecting the tragic consequences to others.

And that could never happen in the government.

Let's see if we can't set poor Mr. Trudeau rightside-up again. It's the people "running the country" who have an incentive to disemploy people. They've been doing it so effectively for so long that even their make-believe statistics shock the imagination. The people "running a private equity firm" don't have such an incentive. Both may cause job dislocations, it's true; but only the folks in Washington have the power to make those layoffs permanent — for generations.

The scale is different, too. "$100 million" wouldn't be a rounding error on the interest of the price we're continuing to charge to our children for out-of-control government. And Barack Obama can kill "10,000 jobs" before breakfast.

Or before tee time, at the latest.

© Dan Popp

 

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