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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Very few people are interested in substantive policy analysis on Christmas, so the tradition here is to share some Santa-related libertarian-themed humor.

This year, we have two more additions.

First, we have another example of a rogue, law-breaking Santa.

Next, we have every libertarian’s Christmas list.

I tend to be more specific with my Christmas requests.

And sometimes those wishes are granted, but only in a very narrow sense.

P.S. Here’s one of the best-ever Christmas-themed jokes.

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Since it’s Christmas Eve, let’s use this opportunity for a holiday-themed economics lesson.

I did a version of this back in 2012 by sharing a remake of Christmas songs. This year, we’re going to look at A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Let’s start with an analysis of the story from Jacqueline Isaacs.

Many communist and socialist leaders have looked to Dickens as a champion for their cause. Even Karl Marx was a self-professed fan. …many have labeled Dickens a socialist and have used his ever-popular seasonal classic A Christmas Carol, as a condemnation of capitalism and consumerism. …I would challenge anyone…to notice the decidedly non-socialist themes Dickens presents. …First, Dickens never condemns capitalism, decries the success of business owners, nor denounces the trading by which they amassed their wealth. …When the character has gone through his revelatory experience and come out a better man, he does not then become poor. Instead, the new Scrooge uses his wealth to help those around him. …Secondly, Dickens seems to go out of his way to point out the inadequacies of government anti-poverty programs. …If the government takes over the responsibility of caring for the poor, then we will all be Scrooges. …Lastly, Dickens takes a relatively narrow view of community. The New Ebenezer did not set forth to save all of England, but he took care of those needy people whom he encountered every day. …Socialism and communism take very large views of community. They require large numbers of people to participate in the system so that the more productive members of society can fully support the less productive.

Senator Phil Gramm and a former aide, Mike Solon, pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last year that Scrooge may have been an unhappy miser, but his frugality generated benefits for everyone else.

Scrooge is a distilled caricature of a businessman in the Victorian era: a rich, obsessive wealth hoarder. …It does not appear that Dickens seriously considered the possibility that Scrooge and Marley’s business contributed to the common welfare of mankind. Like Scrooge, Marley created and accumulated wealth, leaving it to Scrooge, who continued to invest and accumulate. When Dickens has Scrooge’s nephew say his uncle’s wealth “is of no use to him” because he doesn’t spend it, it is made clear that Dickens never considered who Scrooge’s wealth was useful to. …For all Dickens knew or could envision, the only hope for the poor was charity. Yet unknown to him and his contemporaries, a revolution was beginning at the moment “A Christmas Carol” was published. The Market Revolution, funded by the thrift of Britain’s Scrooges, was already enriching mankind. …the period from 1840-1900 to have been the beginning of a golden age for workers. Wages, stagnant for more than 600 years, exploded during the Victorian era—rising from less than $567 a year in 1840 to $1,216 in 1900 (expressed in 1970 dollars). Life expectancy rose by 20%. Literacy rates soared. …Who then benefited from the accumulated wealth of Scrooge and Marley? First Britain and then all mankind. Since Scrooge and Marley never consumed the wealth they created, its use was a gift to all. It funded the factories and railroads, the tools and jobs that fed and clothed millions of British subjects and then billions around the world. Their unspent wealth was of no use to them, but it was of sublime use to humanity.

Gary North then explains how the thrift of rich people is good for the rest of us, as well as how free enterprise translates self interest into the common interest.

Dickens was living in the second generation after the Industrial Revolution began. Sometime around 1780, an economic revolution like no other in history had begun. It was marked by compound economic growth… The driving force of this revolution was specialization — specialization funded by capital, itself the product of thrift, by double-entry bookkeeping, and by attention to detail. In short, it was men like Ebenezer Scrooge who were the architects of capitalism. …The spread of capital is the basis for men’s increased productivity. The spread of the bookkeeper’s mindset is the basis of net retained earnings, which in turn finance additional capital. Taking care of business reduces poverty as nothing else in man’s history ever has. …without Scrooge and men like him, who are devoted to the details of their businesses, the shops of London would not be filled with cornucopias — at Christmas or all year round. …The heart of capitalism is service to the consumer. In serving the consumer, the producer must pay attention to what the consumer wants, at what price, when, and where. But the same is true of the producers’ attitude toward his employees. They, too, must be served… The free market does not make men good. It does encourage them to serve the consumer. It forces losses on them if they are less efficient in their service than their competitors. The free market society is not a dog-eat-dog world. It is dog-serve-master world. The consumer is the master.

Jerry Bowyer then puts Dickens’ work in context, noting that it could be viewed as a debunking of Malthus.

Thomas Malthus. Malthus’ ideas were still current in British intellectual life at the time A Christmas Carol was written. …What was Dickens really doing when he wrote A Christmas Carol? Answer: He was weighing in on one of the central economic debates of his time… Malthus famously argued that in a world in which economies grew arithmetically and population grew geometrically, mass want would be inevitable. …Jean Baptiste Say…argued on the other hand…that the gains from global population growth, spread over vast expanses of trading, trigger gains from a division of labor which exceed those ever thought possible before the rise of the market order. …If Scrooge has modern counterparts, they’re more likely to be found among those sad, self-sterilizing minimizers of carbon footprints than in the circles of supply-side entrepreneurs. …The debate between Say and Malthus, between Scrooge and the Ghosts, continues to this day. Is the market economy a source of abundance or shortage? Is each new little boy or a girl mostly mouth, or mostly mind? Is it a Say/(Julian) Simon/Forbes/Wanniski/Gilder world, or is it a Keynes/Ehrlich/Krugman/Gore world?

In other words, three cheers for capitalism.

P.S. Another famous character this time of year is George Bailey, the lead character in Frank Capra’s classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.

In a 2019 column for the Wall Street Journal, Gramm and Solon highlight the film’s main economic lesson.

The film’s antagonist is the banker Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore), who epitomizes the Democrats’ caricature of unredeemable capitalism. Peter Bailey (Samuel Hinds) defends capitalism in an often overlooked dialogue when he asks his son George (Jimmy Stewart) to join his building-and-loan business. …George…wants no part of “this business of nickels and dimes and spending all your life trying to figure out how to save 3 cents on a length of pipe.” His father, being older and wiser, responds: “I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It’s deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we’re helping him get those things in our shabby little office.” By squeezing nickels and dimes, the Baileys made limited resources and labor go further, producing “dozens of the prettiest little homes you ever saw, 90% owned by suckers who used to pay rent” to old Potter. …Peter Bailey’s insight reflects a vision originating in the Enlightenment, which set people free to promote their interest, and in the process, through Adam Smith’s invisible hand, promote the interests of mankind. …Capitalism alone respects life’s greatest gift: the freedom to choose how you live your life, where you discover meaning, and what you sacrifice for.

P.P.S. If you still need to do some last-minute shopping, here’s a gift for your left-wing friends, another for your right-wing friends, and a lot of options for your libertarian friends.

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Merry Christmas, even for my left-leaning friends and politically correct friends.

The good news is that – contrary to reports – Santa Claus did not get arrested last night.

And that’s good news because he does many things each year that could land him in prison.

In a column for FEE, David Rosenthal addresses the same topic of overcriminalization.

While most people know Jolly Old Saint Nick as a friendly figure, he too is not immune from the perils of administrative overreach and overcriminalization. …here is a list of some of the potential crimes and violations of federal law… Under the Reindeer Act, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, only Alaska Natives are allowed to own reindeer in Alaska. …Even if Santa gets around the Reindeer Act, he may face civil and criminal penalties under the Lacey Act if his purchase, sale, possession, or use of reindeer—or any other flora or fauna— violates any state or federal law or the law of any foreign nation, no matter what language or code that foreign law is written in. …Despite Santa’s many years of experience, there is no Mr. Claus listed in the Federal Aviation Administration’s pilot certificates database. If Santa is piloting his sleigh without an airman’s certificate, he is in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 46317. …Any white lie that falls within the jurisdiction of the U.S. government could be a federal crime. …A government agent need only ask Santa if he committed burglary, trespass, or larceny, or ask him, “Are you really Santa Claus?” In that case, Santa really would need a Miracle on 34th Street to stay out of the slammer for lying. …Under IRS gift tax rules, the giver of gifts above a certain threshold is taxed at a rate up to 40 percent of the value of the gift. …Willful failure to file a gift tax return can land Santa in prison for up to one year under 26 U.S.C. § 7203.

Regarding whether Santa Claus is real, there is a downside to people being too gullible.

In the past, I’ve looked at the debate over whether Santa Claus is right wing or left wing, as well as the debate over whether Jesus is libertarian or socialist.

Here’s an amusing 2×2 matrix that builds on those themes.

Whoever created this put Jesus in the anti-capitalism camp, which irks me, but it’s still clever (just like this pro-socialism Christmas humor).

If you liked this adoption video, I imagine you’ll like these Christmas songs.

Speaking of songs, here are some economic-themed Christmas carols.

And if you like videos, Remy has two of them (here and here) showing how the TSA hurts the Christmas spirit.

Needless to say, I also have to share these libertarian-themed Christmas videos.

P.S. If you like Christmas cartoons, here are some featuring President Obama.

P.P.S. And this Jay Leno joke is always amusing.

P.P.P.S. If you’re doing some last-minute shopping for libertarians, check out this video. If you’re shopping for a taxpayer, this household item might be a good present. And if you’re shopping for an environmentalist, you can’t go wrong with this low-carbon gift.

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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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Normal people aren’t thinking about public policy at this time of year, but I’m a libertarian who has decided to fight against big government in Washington, so I’m definitely not normal and I could be a masochist.

And since you’re reading this instead of daydreaming about Santa, you’re also not part of the herd. Which means you may enjoy some good laughs with a Christmas theme.

In prior years, I’ve shared IRS Christmas gifts, a video showing what would happen if Obama ran the North Pole, and presents from Ben Bernanke.

This year, let’s enjoy some cartoons. Given my disdain for big government, destructive redistribution, and high tax rates, you’ll understand why this Robert Gorrell cartoon is first on my list.

Gorrell XMas Cartoon

Next we have Henry Payne mocking the President’s desperate efforts to get people to climb on the sinking ship of Obamacare.

Payne XMas Cartoon

Speaking of which, here’s a gem from Michael Ramirez featuring the President in the role of Pajama Boy.

Ramirez XMas Cartoon

Since we’ve already enjoyed some Pajama Boy jokes, you might think there’s nothing new in this cartoon,

But I wanted to share it because of a minor disagreement. I wish Ramirez was right and Obama was “only” talking about changing health insurance.

Instead, the President has taken a health care system that already was a mess because of government intervention and imposed a law that will make a bad situation far worse.

Last but not least, I want to share some…um…feedback I received last night. Long-time readers may remember that I have a license plate that expresses my deep and sincere affection for Washington, DC.

Well, you’ll be shocked to learn that some people disagree with me.

And one of those people left a message on my windshield. I don’t know if this “fan” was an overpaid bureaucrat, an Obama drone, a corrupt lobbyist, or a 1960s refugee, but you can see that he (could be a she, I suppose, but the handwriting seems male) was irked.

Leftist Note

A few thoughts about the message.

1. Why is my license plate offensive? Were the Founding Fathers also offensive because of their distrust of centralized power and authority? That certainly seems to be Obama’s view, so maybe my “fan” is an Obama drone.

2. Then again, the use of “bespeaks” suggests someone who spent too much time in college. So maybe this is a former grad student who became a Hill staffer and is now a sleazy lobbyist for some unethical group of moochers.  No wonder he’s angry about life.

Cabo Abir3. Regarding the…er…challenge to my manhood, it was actually my girlfriend who found the message. And since she’s way too hot for me, I must have some redeeming quality. At least I hope.

4. I’m surprised that my new friend wrote “Merry Christmas.” Isn’t that politically incorrect?!? What if I was Jewish? Or Muslim? Or Buddhist? Or whatever? This makes me think the author was an overpaid bureaucrat who slept through his mandatory sensitivity training. European Union bureaucrats surely would never make this mistake.

5. Last but not least, I’m amused that  a statist would use “Peace” as a valediction. It is the left that believes in using the coercive power of government – ultimately enforced by threats and violence – to restrict the rights of others. So maybe my “fan” is a 1960s leftover. These are the nitwits, after all, who protest against government by demanding more government.

Maybe the guy who left the note is a reader and will reveal his identity, but I won’t hold my breath.

In the meantime, enjoy a politically incorrect Christmas story from Larry the Cable Guy.

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For those of you who can’t find zhu zhu pets, here’s an option sure to bring a smile – a long-sleeved t-shirt honoring the Secretary of the Treasury. Maybe if you’ve been very good all year long, Santa will bring you a special Tim “Turbotax” Geithner free pass, allowing you to cheat on your taxes and get away with no penalties once you’re caught!

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