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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Last week, I shared a TV interview about Obama’s budget, but much of the discussion was routine and didn’t warrant special attention.

But there was one small part of the interview, dealing with the silly claim that America became a rich nation because of socialism, that got me all agitated.

Well, to quote the great Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu all over again. Here’s an interview I did with CNBC about labor unrest. As you might expect, I made the standard libertarian argument that it’s not the job of government to pick sides when labor and management have squabbles.

That’s a point I’ve made before (here, here, here, here, here, and here), so there’s no need to elaborate on that issue.

But if you pay attention at the 3:00 mark of the video, you’ll notice that the discussion shifts to income inequality. And this is what got me agitated. I’m completely baffled that some people think that redistribution is more important than growth.

As I point out in the interview, nobody wins in the long run if you have a stagnant economy and politicians are fixated on re-slicing a shrinking pie.

The goal of everyone – including unions and leftist politicians – should be growth. If we get robust growth, that will mean tight labor markets, and that’s a big cause of rising wages.

But here’s my hypothesis to explain why statists don’t support good policies. Simply stated, I think they hate the rich more than they like the poor.

That sounds like a rather bold claim, but is there any other explanation for why they reject the types of tax policies (such as lower corporate rates, reduced double taxation, and expensing) that will increase investment, thus boosting productivity and wages?

Heck, look at this chart showing the relationship between capital formation and labor compensation.

Any decent person, after looking at the link between capital and wages, should be clamoring for the flat tax.

Yet Obama wants to move the tax code in the opposite direction!

I confess that I have no idea if this is because of malice or ignorance, but I do know that no nation has ever generated faster growth with class warfare.

I realize I’m ranting, but the more I think about this topic, the more upset I get. Politicians and their allies are making life harder for workers, and I hope I never stop being outraged when that happens.

P.S. On a totally separate subject, here’s a good joke forwarded to me by a friend this morning. It definitely belongs in my collection of gun control humor.

A state trooper in Kansas made a traffic stop of an elderly lady for speeding on U.S. 166 just East of Sedan, KS. He asked for her driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. The lady took out the required information and handed it to him.

In with the cards, he was somewhat surprised (due to her advanced age) to see she had a concealed carry permit. He looked at her and asked if she had a weapon in her possession at this time. She responded that she indeed had a .45 automatic in her glove box.

Something, body language, or the way she said it, made him want to ask if she had any other firearms. She did admit to also having a 9mm Glock in her center console. Now he had to ask one more time if that was all. She responded once again that she did have just one more, a .38 special in her purse.

He then asked her “Ma’am, you sure carry a lot of guns. What are you so afraid of?”

She looked him right in the eye and said, “Not a damn thing!”

You can enjoy other examples of gun control humor by clicking here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Political cartoons, if done correctly, are remarkably effective tools for teaching about economics and public policy.

In this post from last year, for instance, I put together some of my favorite examples on topics such as Keynesian economics, labor supply incentives, minimum wage, and the welfare state.

Today, we’re going to try something different. Using a series of cartoons, we’re going to explain the need for Social Security reform.

First, let’s establish that there is a problem. I’ve shared data on America’s long-run fiscal crisis from international bureaucracies such as the IMF, BIS, and OECD. And I’ve explained that demographics are a big part of the problem.

Simply stated, tax-and-transfer entitlement programs don’t work very well with aging populations.

But that point is made with humor in this Michael Ramirez cartoon.

And as there are more and more old people, that means an ever-growing burden on younger workers.

I’ve shared lots of data from the Social Security Administration on the depth of the problem, but this cartoon puts it in stark terms.

Since I’m a baby boomer, I’m not sure I like the implication that we’re all spoiled brats.

But the way Social Security is designed, younger workers will face a huge burden as the bills come due in the 2020s and 2030s.

And this Gary Varvel cartoon is a close-up look at one of those younger workers.

Politicians sometimes try to assure us that the long-run fiscal shortfall isn’t a big problem because there is a Social Security Trust Fund.

And they’re right.

That’s the good news. But the bad news, as I’ve previously noted, is that the Trust Fund is filled with IOUs.

But this Henry Payne cartoon puts it in a more blunt and entertaining fashion.

In other words, there are no assets.

To be blunt, Social Security is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.

It only works if there are more and more new participants joining the system every single year.

This produces revenue that can be used to pay off the older participants, but also creates pressure to find more new victims in the future.

This type of arrangement is illegal in the private sector. Heck, there are people sitting in jail right now for such scams.

But as Michael Ramirez points out, it’s just fine for the government to operate this kind of scheme.

So is there any alternative?

Are we really stuck with an unstable system that will require a never-ending series of tax hikes?

I have no idea if it will ever happen, but there are proposals to shift away from the current tax-and-transfer entitlement regime and into a system of personal retirement accounts.

Such “funded” accounts already exist in nations such as Australia, Chile, and the Netherlands, but some critics say that there’s too much risk in that kind of system.

But as this cartoon shows, it would be just about impossible to design a system riskier than Social Security.

By the way, this list of cartoons is incomplete. It would have been nice to have one showing that Social Security is an increasingly bad deal for workers since they have to pay more and more over time, yet they are promised rather meager benefits.

It also would have been nice to share a cartoon showing that personal accounts promote national savings, whereas government-run systems lead to debt (check out these two charts for an example).

To close, here’s my video on the case for personal retirement accounts.

P.S. You can enjoy some previous Social Security cartoons here, here, and here. And we also have a Social Security joke if you appreciate grim humor.

P.P.S. You probably don’t want to know how Obama would like to “fix” the Social Security shortfall.

P.P.P.S. While cartoons can be great teaching tools. parables also make insightful and educational points about economics. And they tend to be very popular. This story on “the tax system explained in beer” is my second-most-viewed post. And the “socialism in the classroom” example about the perils of redistribution is my fifth-most-viewed post.

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Shortly after Obamacare was enacted, I began to maintain a list of groups that were victimized by the law. But after listing kids, low-income workers, and retirees, I quickly realized this was a senseless exercise because virtually everyone in the country was going to be hurt by this expansion of government power and control.

So I then began to put together a different type of list. I call it the “least sympathetic victims” of Obamacare. These are groups that are being hurt by the law, but I think you’ll agree with me that they don’t deserve tears of support. At least not real ones.

Some politicians and staffers of Capitol Hill are very upset about the prospect of being subjected to the law that they inflicted on the rest of the country.

The bureaucrats at the IRS are agitated about the possibility of living under Obamacare, even though the IRS got new powers as a result of the law.

We now have a new group to add to the list. It appears that the faculty of Harvard University aren’t happy about some of the changes imposed by Obamacare. Even though many Harvard professors helped Obama design and promote the law!

Here are some passages from a New York Times report.

Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed. …“Harvard is a microcosm of what’s happening in health care in the country,” said David M. Cutler, a health economist at the university who was an adviser to President Obama’s 2008 campaign. …In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it “must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform,” in the form of the Affordable Care Act. …Mary D. Lewis, a professor who specializes in the history of modern France and has led opposition to the benefit changes, said they were tantamount to a pay cut. …The president of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust, acknowledged in a letter to the faculty that the changes in health benefits — though based on recommendations from some of the university’s own health policy experts — were “causing distress” and had “generated anxiety” on campus.

Distress and anxiety on campus? Oh, the horrors.

I guess it’s perfectly acceptable to impose harm on the peasants in flyover country, but these Harvard elitists obviously don’t want to live under the policies that they recommend for the rest of us.

P.S. I gather Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology view each other as rivals. Well, since Jonathan Gruber (the guy who was caught on tape admitting that Obamacare was based on lies) is a professor at M.I.T. and Harvard professors are the ones getting very agitated, maybe we should simply view Obamacare as a really clever school-against-school prank? It’s just unfortunate that the rest of the country is suffering collateral damage.

P.P.S. By the way, one of the reasons that Harvard professors are unhappy is because of the so-called Cadillac tax, which actually is one of the few parts of Obamacare that may have some positive effect since it’s designed to reduce over-insurance and mitigate the third-party payer problem.

P.P.P.S. Let’s close with some political humor.

This Michael Ramirez cartoon captures President Obama as a precocious school kid.

You can see why readers voted Ramirez as the best political cartoonist.

P.P.P.P.S. And here’s a very clever video about terrorists and the Transportation Security Administration.

For more TSA humor, see this, this, this, this, and this. And if you want more terrorist humor, click here, herehere, and here (at the end of the post).

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Yesterday, as part of a column about the burden of regulation, I shared a couple of Christmas-themed videos, as well as a tragic story of Santa Claus getting arrested by the IRS.

During previous Christmas seasons, there’s been other topical humor.

There’s more, but let’s focus on augmenting our list with some new cartoons.

Here’s Robert Gorrell equating Christmas with the federal government.

Very amusing, but I’ll defend Christmas for the simple reason that the whole thing is voluntary. Government redistribution, by contrast, is based on coercion.

Which is sort of the theme of this Eric Allie cartoon.

Though we need to remember that sometimes the statists bribe voters with their own money, but in other cases the statists buy votes from those who don’t pay any taxes (as illustrated by this Chuck Asay cartoon).

Next we have a contribution from Glenn McCoy that I find very appealing because it focuses on the ticking time bomb of poorly designed entitlement programs.

Very similar to this Lisa Benson cartoon.

Last but not least, let’s stop with the cartoons and try to answer the age-old question of whether Santa Claus is liberal or conservative.

The person who put this together says Santa is a conservative by a 6-5 margin.

Though the anarcho-capitalists may want to claim Santa since he’s from a land with no government.

P.S. If you have had your fill of Christmas-themed humor…

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When I want to make serious points about why gun control is misguided, I’ll often cite the scholarly work of John Lott or the expert analysis of Larry Correia.

There are also two pro-2nd Amendment columns (here and here) from self-confessed leftists that also make very persuasive reading.

And let’s not forget the Constitution protects our right to keep and bear arms (at least for those who still think that document means anything).

But I confess that I mostly like using satire and mockery when criticizing gun control. And I’m pleased to report that a friend sent me some very good new material.

So, in the holiday spirit, let’s amuse ourselves by questioning the logic of the anti-2nd Amendment ideologues.

We’ll start with one that has a two-pronged meaning. Because, like satirical images that can be seen here and here, it points out that both gun control and the Drug War are premised on the notion that government can make something disappear simply by making it illegal.

Methinks the person who created this poster isn’t a good speller. But his logic is airtight. Gun control would disarm law-abiding people while leaving the bad guys with all the weapons.

But that’s apparently too difficult to understand for people like Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago (speaking of which, here’s how a statist might try to explain the different murder rates in pro-gun Houston and anti-gun Chicago).

Our next image makes a very important point that school shootings basically didn’t exist back when there was no gun control.

Even when actual machine guns were fully legal!

The bad news is that anti-gun political correctness has taken over and resulted in preposterous horror stories in many government schools.

But the good news is that while machine guns are now heavily regulated, at least Americans can still own tanks.

The next two images make the philosophical point that we shouldn’t leave all guns in the hands of government, particularly given some horrible results from the 20th century.

Very reminiscent of some of the images that are found here, here, here, and here.

Here’s another one to add to the list.

The gentleman makes a good point. Something definitely isn’t right, which perhaps explains why this poster of pro-gun control dictators is the 4th-most viewed thing I’ve ever written.

P.S. You can  see some amusing pro-Second Amendment posters herehereherehere, and here. And some amusing images of t-shirts and bumper stickers on gun control herehere, and here.

P.P.S. I have a snarky IQ test for criminals and liberals, but I also have a serious poll asking people why they oppose gun control.

P.P.P.S. The image at the bottom of this post makes me proud to be American.

P.P.P.P.S. I’m sure this is an urban legend rather than a real interview, but I always get a laugh from this transcript.

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We’ve had too many serious and weighty columns recently, so let’s take a break and enjoy some laughs about our bloated and unwieldy federal government.

Here’s a cartoon that arrived in my inbox. I can’t decipher who the author is, so feel free to provide the answer in the comments section. Whoever the person is, he or she did a great job capturing both the essence of arrogant and abusive government and the way that government growth generally comes at the expense of the private sector.

By the way, I’ve even created a special page for cartoons that characterize government as a bloated, out of shape, and semi-malicious entity. This cartoon has been added to that collection.

And here’s a cartoon from Gary Varvel.

You’ll notice this cartoon basically has the same theme as this Henry Payne cartoon, this Lisa Benson cartoon, this Chuck Asay cartoon, and these cartoons (here, here, and here) from Michael Ramirez.

And they all do a great job of capturing how big government holds back the productive sector of the economy.

Now let’s look at the best 10 seconds in cinematic history (at least if you’re a curmudgeonly libertarian who frets about bloated government).

And don’t forget that Ghostbusters was presumably the only movie ever made where an EPA bureaucrat was one of the bad guys, much to the dismay of some leftists (though I’ve definitely made them the bad guys here and here).

Which is why I’m shocked it’s not anywhere on this list of libertarian movies.

P.S. Let’s close on a serious point. I haven’t written anything on the events in Ferguson for the simple reason that I wasn’t there and don’t have any special insight or knowledge. So I don’t know if the cop should have been indicted.

But I did see a very powerful and fair analysis of the situation. It wasn’t from a sociologist, a criminologist, or any social scientist. It was written by Ben Watson, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints.

Here’s a brief excerpt, but I urge you to read the entire thing.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

And I can’t resist pointing out that Ben was a Georgia Bulldog and he was involved in one of the greatest plays in NFL history (a play that also featured another former UGA player).

P.P.S. And since we’ve stumbled into the thorny thicket of race, Walter Williams has some very wise words about the best way of reducing racism.

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Every so often, I see a cartoon or image that provides a teachable moment about economics.

This Wizard-of-Id parody, for instance, contains a lot of insight about labor economics. As does this Chuck Asay cartoon and this Robert Gorrell cartoon.

And if you want to understand Keynesian economics, this Scott Stantis cartoon is a gem, as is the third image in this post (and while there’s no economic substance, this Lisa Benson cartoon about Keynesianism is worth sharing simply because it’s funny).

Regarding the minimum wage, Henry Payne effectively shows – in this cartoon and this cartoon – how mandating above-market wages is very bad news for those with limited skills.

You can also get clear messages about why a welfare state is economically destructive in this classic from Chuck Asay, as well as these home-made cartoons on riding the wagon vs pulling the wagon, which have received more views than anything else I’ve ever posted.

Surprisingly, though, I haven’t seen many cartoons about the economics of tax policy or supply-side economics.

I’ve shared lots of cartoons (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) and one image about class warfare, but they invariably seem to make philosophical or political points.

Same for the cartoons about the value-added tax (here, here, and here). They’re funny, but they’re not teaching any economics.

The only tax-oriented cartoons that have some economic education include this Chuck Asay cartoon includes some basic observations on incentives, but his main point is about vote-buying rather than economics.

The second cartoon in this post makes a good point about taxes driving away economic activity, but it’s probably best categorized as mockery rather than economic education. And these cartoons about corporate inversions also could be categorized that way.

So I’m delighted to share this image a reader sent to me.

I’m not sure why it uses a dinosaur, but it perfectly summarizes the case for supply-side economics.

I’m a big fan of this image for two reasons.

First, I almost always use this example when giving speeches about tax policy. Just about everyone in an audience will understand that politicians commonly argue that we need higher tobacco taxes to discourage smoking. I tell them I don’t think it’s government’s job to dictate our private behavior, but I also tell them the politicians are right: The more you tax of something, the less you get of it. I then point out that the same principle applies to taxes on productive behavior such as work, saving, and investment, which is why tax rates should be as low as possible.

Second, even leftists admit (when it suits their purpose) that taxes impact incentives. President Obama’s former chief economist, for instance, wrote that “all taxes discourage something. Why not discourage bad things…rather than good things, such as working and saving.” Of course, he somehow forgot these insights when Obama was pushing for class-warfare tax hikes as part of the fiscal cliff deal.

P.S. I’m not sure whether these qualify as economically educational, but I heartily recommend this Chuck Asay cartoon on regime uncertainty and this A.F. Branco cartoon on Obama’s hostility to entrepreneurship.

P.P.S. I do have a couple of stories that make insightful and educational points about taxation. And they tend to be very popular. This story on “the tax system explained in beer” is my second-most-viewed post. And the “socialism in the classroom” example about the perils of redistribution is my fifth-most-viewed post.

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