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Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

I will always have fond feelings for Playboy, though not for the stereotypical reason.

My appreciation for the magazine is largely based on the fact that I got a very nice honorarium from the German version back in the 1990s for writing an assessment of Bill Clinton’s likely approach to economic policy (confession: he turned out to be much better than I predicted).

Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten almost all of the German I learned in high school, so I can’t read the translated version of the article that appeared in the magazine.

Now Playboy has done something else that I appreciate, putting together a very clever matrix showing what Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens think about various policy issues.

It’s obviously satire, but it’s very clever and effective because it does a good job of capturing stereotypes from each group (just like this poster showing 24 types of libertarians).

As you can see, the “libertarian chicken” obviously provided the answers for the third column.

In addition to mind-your-own-business Libertarians, Playboy gives us abortion-über-alles Democrats, elitist Republicans, and fuzzy-headed Greens. A bit of truth in all those caricatures.

So kudos to them for mocking all parties equally. Comedy Central probably wouldn’t be losing so many viewers if it also took this even-handed approach.

P.S. If you like libertarian-oriented humor (both pro and con), then click here and here.

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I’m a bleeding heart libertarian in that I get most upset about statist policies that make life harder for disadvantaged people so that folks with more money can get undeserved goodies.

  • For instance, I despise anti-school choice leftists because they value political support from teacher unions more than they value opportunity for poor kids.
  • And I get very agitated that about the Export-Import Bank, which is a form of corporate welfare that transfers money from the general population to the rich.

Another example is occupational licensing, which occurs when politicians require newcomers to jump through expensive and/or time-consuming hoops before getting “permission” to provide a good or service. These licensing rules create unjust profits for established businesses by hindering competition, and they are especially burdensome for poor people, all of which is explained in this superb video from the Institute for Justice.

But if there’s a sliver lining to that dark cloud, it’s this image that I will add to my collection of libertarian humor. To be fair, I don’t know if it counts as purely libertarian humor, but I saw it on Reddit‘s libertarian page and it definitely makes the right points.

If you like libertarian humor, both pro and con, click here, here, and here for other examples.

P.S. Let’s close by sharing some good news on a serious topic.

Unlike the short-sighted politicians in the United States, the crowd in Australia seems a bit more level-headed on the issue of competitive corporate taxation. Here are some excerpts from a story in the U.K.-based Guardian.

The Turnbull government has given big business exactly what it wants – a substantial tax cut. It has also extended the Abbott government’s small business tax package by giving small and medium businesses more tax cuts and incentives. …“Our corporate tax rate is high by international standards and well above the average for OECD countries and those in the Asian region,” the budget papers say. “This will make Australian companies more internationally competitive in a tough global market place.” The government plans to cut the corporate tax rate significantly, from 30% to 25%. …The cut will be phased in over 10 years… The treasurer, Scott Morrison, says treasury modelling suggests the measures will grow the economy by 1% over the long term. He says they will lead to higher living standards, via increased business investment and more jobs.

I certainly don’t think “significantly” is a word to describe a modest five-percentage-point reduction in the rate, but kudos to Aussie politicians for moving in the right direction. I also like the part about “treasury modelling,” which suggests that the Australians also have a sensible approach on the issue of static scoring vs. dynamic scoring.

So perhaps now you can understand why Australia is my choice if (when?) the welfare state collapses in the United States (though I’m still of the opinion that the Swiss are the world’s most sensible people).

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After yesterday’s ponderous and detailed discussion of tax compliance, it’s time for some levity.

So let’s have some fun with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

And we’ll start with the crazy Senator from Vermont. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen more Sanders-specific humor. I’m probably missing some examples, but a quick look through my archives reveals only the cartoon at the bottom of this post and the satirical poster included in this post.

A guy this crazy deserves more attention.

So here’s the Sanders version of the monopoly game, courtesy of Mark Perry, the must-read economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

The best part of the game is the description of how everyone decides the best option is to stop being productive and wait for handouts.

Sort of the same message from this Wizard-of-Id parody.

By the way, I have lots of material mocking socialism (see here and here), so we can count that as being anti-Sanders humor (even if he’s not even a real socialist).

Now let’s shift to “The Donald.” I don’t know how to classify him from a philosophical perspective (probably because he doesn’t have a coherent set of principles), but he is an entertaining figure.

That being said, I think I’ve only had one column that included Trump humor.

So let’s atone for that oversight. This World-according-to-Trump map is quite clever.

Very similar to the very amusing how-the-Greeks-see-Europe map I shared back in 2011.

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Like communism, Nazism, and other forms of statism, socialism is an evil ideology that is based on the notion that human freedom should be suppressed and restricted.

Modern socialists may not have the totalitarian impulses of their national socialist and international socialist cousins, but their underlying philosophy is based on a near-criminal ignorance of economics and human nature.

That’s why I always ask socialists to identify a single successful socialist jurisdiction. It’s fun to watch them struggle and sputter.

They certainly can’t pick the nations, such as CubaVenezuela, and North Korea, that practice real socialism (i.e., government ownership of the means of production).

They generally aren’t stupid enough to pick collapsing and stagnant welfare states in Europe, such as France, Italy, and Greece.

Like Bernie Sanders, they generally point to nations such as Denmark and Sweden, though they never have a good response when you point out that: a) these nations became rich when government was very small, and b) they compensate for today’s bad fiscal policy with ultra-free market policies in other areas.

But I’m not interested in a serious discussion about the flaws of socialism. Been there, done that, as the old saying goes.

Instead, I want to share some great satire (h/t: Greg Mankiw)

Hilarious, though one wonders whether a Sanders supporter is even capable of understanding the message that class warfare isn’t that much fun when you’re on the receiving end.

Sort of like the message in this clever Penn & Teller video.

P.S. On a lighter note, here’s the “bread-ish” difference between socialism and capitalism.

P.P.S. Regarding European socialism, we have great (although technically inaccurate) cartoons from Glenn Foden and Michael Ramirez.

P.P.P.S. Here’s socialism for kids, though it’s really class warfare for kids.

P.P.P.P.S. And here’s what happens when you try socialism in the classroom.

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Northern Virginia just got buried by more than two feet of snow.

This has two implications. First, I’m going to have a fun time shoveling my driveway.

Second, I’m going to add to my collection of humor that pokes fun at libertarians.

And now, courtesy of a left-leaning, quasi-populist softball buddy, we have our new addition: The tyranny of government snowplows!

Now that we’ve all enjoyed a good laugh (because some of us libertarians can be very doctrinaire and dour, and thus deserve to be teased), it’s worth noting that plenty of places, such as private communities, shopping centers, etc, do rely on the private sector.

And it’s no mystery that the snow in those places is generally cleared faster and at lower cost.

That being said, most libertarian types are far more tolerant of local governments spending money on things that arguably might be public goods.

Indeed, one of our principles is that things tend to go awry (like the water scandal in Flint) when responsibility and accountability are blurred because of involvement by state government or the federal government.

So most of us will tolerate snow removal by local governments, even if we would prefer the private sector.

P.S. I also have a collection of pro-libertarian humor.

P.P.S. Just in case you want to vicariously share my snow-shoveling misery, this picture will give you an idea of the size of the problem.

Though it is nice that one of the cats is helping to point the way.

And another one of the kitties seems rather fascinated by the walls of snow.

For what it’s worth, this snow definitely beats the December 2009 storm and also is heavier than the February 2010 storm.

P.P.P.S. Since I’m not as smart as my neighbor, who parked at the end of his driveway, I have hours of work ahead of me. Too bad there aren’t any criminal, unlicensed teenagers looking for work.

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I spend a lot of time mocking statists, and with good reasons.

But since I’m an economist, maybe I should be careful about throwing stones.

Especially since, based on a fairly miserable track record, my profession lives in a big glass house.

So let’s take a closer look to see whether Shakespeare was wrong about which profession most deserved extermination.

We’ll start with a story from The Economist, which informs us that the IMF has a perfect record of failure when predicting recessions.

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable,” John Kenneth Galbraith, an irreverent economist, once said. …The IMF publishes forecasts for 189 countries twice a year, in April and October, for the year in question and the following one. The Economist has conducted an analysis of them from 1999 to 2014… Over the period, there were 220 instances in which an economy grew in one year before shrinking in the next. In its April forecasts the IMF never once foresaw the contraction looming in the next year. …Our random-number generator correctly forecast the start of a recession 18% of the time.

I’d also add that the IMF has a near-perfect record of trying to undermine countries by recommending tax increases, but that’s a separate issue.

And I don’t mean to pick on the IMF. I’m sure that the forecasts from the Federal Reserve, the Congressional Budget Office, and private entities would show similarly dismal forecasting results.

Especially if their models are based on Keynesian theory, as shown in the cartoon in this post.

If an inability to forecast was the worst thing you could say about economists, that wouldn’t be too awful. But it seems that we also have shady ethical values.  Consider some findings from a recent academic study.

The present article analyzes the differences between economists and non‐economists with respect to observed corruption behavior… For this purpose, I analyzed real world data of relating to the 109th–111th US Congress between 2005 and 2009, including 695 representatives and senators. I show that those who hold a degree in economics are significantly more prone to corruption than ‘non‐economists’. These findings hence support the widespread, but controversial hypothesis in the ‘economist vs. non‐economist literature’ that economists lack what Frey and Meier (2004) call ‘social behavior’.

Wow, we’re “significantly more prone to corruption” because we lack “social behavior.” That doesn’t sound good.

No wonder fraudsters can easily pass themselves off as economists.

Though maybe that data simply shows that economists with bad morals go into politics, whereas those of us with good character work at places such as the Cato Institute.

Or maybe it’s just evidence that there are too many left-wing economists, as reported in another article from The Economist (though at least the profession isn’t totally dominated by statists, like in anthropology).

A survey conducted in 2003 among practitioners of six social sciences found that…left-leaning economists outnumbered right-leaning ones by three to one, compared with a ratio of 30:1 in anthropology.

In any event, if you want to argue that the world would be better off without economists, the real clincher is that we even have the ability to make sex less fun. At least indirectly, as pointed out in this Quartz article.

Does more sex make people happier? Or do happy people just do it more? A gaggle of economists and statisticians lead by Carnegie Mellon University’s George Loewenstein, a well-known behavioral economist, have done their best to find out. Their study, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, finds that more sex doesn’t always make people happier—especially if the increase is the result of taking part in an economics experiment. …So is more sex now a bad thing? Probably not. The findings seem to indicate that “the instruction to have more sex leads to a decline in wanting for sex and in enjoyment of sex.” … at least we know conclusively whether participation in behavioral economics studies is the best way for married couples to spice things up. The answer is no.

Let’s consider the tally so far.

Economists are 100 percent wrong, they’re crooks, and they even ruin sex for other people.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

But as every good economist will tell you, it’s the real world that’s messed up, not our theories.

And for some economists, that’s not just a joke.

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Since we enjoyed yesterday a libertarian version of the night-before-Christmas story, let’s continue today with the holiday spirit.

During previous Christmas seasons, I’ve shared Keynesian Christmas carols, a great Jay Leno joke, a video of Santa as a small business owner dealing with red tape, and a look at the all-important question of whether Santa is a leftist or conservative.

Today, though, let’s be momentarily serious and enjoy a Christmas present to the nation from an unexpected source. The Obama Administration has announced that the odious practice of asset forfeiture is going to be curtailed.

Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post report.

The Department of Justice announced this week that it’s suspending a controversial program that allows local police departments to keep a large portion of assets seized from citizens under federal law and funnel it into their own coffers. The “equitable-sharing” program gives police the option of prosecuting asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize — even if the people they took from are never charged with a crime. …Criminal justice reformers are cheering the change. “This is a significant deal,” said Lee McGrath, legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice.

But don’t get too excited. This almost certainly is not a sign of genuine libertarian thinking inside the Obama Administration.

Indeed, the story suggests that the Justice Department made this change at least in part because it didn’t want to share money with state and local governments.

The DOJ is suspending payments under this program due to budget cuts included in the recent spending bill. “While we had hoped to minimize any adverse impact on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, the Department is deferring for the time being any equitable sharing payments from the Program,” M. Kendall Day, chief of the asset forfeiture and money laundering section, wrote in a letter to state and local law enforcement agencies. In addition to budget cuts last year, the program has lost $1.2 billion, according to Day’s letter. “The Department does not take this step lightly,” he wrote. “We explored every conceivable option that would have enabled us to preserve some form of meaningful equitable sharing. … Unfortunately, the combined effect of the two reductions totaling $1.2 billion made that impossible.”

Good, I’m glad they didn’t find a “conceivable option” that would have enabled the government to continue stealing property from people who haven’t been convicted of wrongdoing.

Now that we’ve been serious, let’s get back into the Christmas spirit.

An article in The Atlantic looks at Christmas cards, as designed by economists. Mostly they showed why we’re not at the top of people’s invite lists for holiday parties. Here are my two favorites.

Yup, only economists could describe things like love and family in this fashion!

I don’t even know how to characterize this card, but this sometimes is how economists think.

Last but not least, here are a couple of great Christmas-themed cartoons from two years ago, both by Michael Ramirez.

We’ll start with a Christmas wish that Santa hopefully granted.

Amen.

After all, a GOP with spine wouldn’t cower, as illustrated amusingly by A.F. Branco, when Obama threatens a so-called government shutdown.

Our next cartoon looks at an implication of all Obama’s spending plans.

And if you wonder about the size of Santa Obama’s sack, just check out these very depressing numbers.

After perusing that data, some of us may not be feeling like our statist friends deserve any holiday cheer. But this is Christmas, so let’s try to feel love and joy. So if you see some of your government worshipping friends and family today, we even have a Christmas greeting that’s appropriate for leftists.

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