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Posts Tagged ‘Political Humor’

The Great Depression was an unimaginably miserable period in American history. Income fell, unemployment rose, and misery was pervasive.

But there was still room for political satire in the 1930s. Here’s a cartoon that I shared back in 2012. Based on the notations in the upper right, I gather it’s from the Chicago Tribune, though I don’t know if that’s actually true. And I also don’t know the year.

But I certainly sympathized with the message since Hoover and Roosevelt were big-spending interventionists.

Hoover saddled the economy with taxes (an increase in the top tax rate from 25 percent to 63 percent!), spending, protectionism, regulation, and intervention. Roosevelt then doubled down on almost all of those bad policies, with further tax rate increases (up to 79 percent, and he even pushed for a 100 percent tax rate in the early 1940s!!), more spending, and lots of additional regulation and intervention.

And here’s a cartoon I posted the previous year. Since I don’t know whether public opinion was on the right side, I don’t know if it accurately captures the mood of taxpayers.

But it’s 100-percent accurate about the instinctive response of politicians. For “public choice” reasons, the crowd in Washington has an incentive to buy votes with other people’s money. One might even say they spend like drunken sailors, but that’s actually an understatement.

But I’m beginning to digress, as is my wont. Let’s get back to satire and the Great Depression.

And I’m going to be creative. That’s because I saw a cartoon on Reddit‘s libertarian page that makes a very general point about government causing a mess and politicians then blaming the private sector. But because I’m a goofy libertarian policy wonk, I immediately thought that this is a perfect summary of what happened in the 1930s.  Hoover and Roosevelt hammered the economy with bad policy, the economy stayed in the dumps for an entire decade, yet the political class someone convinced a lot of people it was all the fault of capitalism.

While I will always view this cartoon as the spot-on depiction of what happened in the 1930s, it obviously applies much more broadly.

Consider the recent financial crisis, which was the result of bad monetary policy and corrupt Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac subsidies. Yet countless politicians blamed greedy capitalism.

Maybe what we have is the cartoon version of Mitchell’s Law. That’s because when politicians cause a problem and blame the free market, they inevitably then claim that the problem justifies giving them more power and control. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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There’s no way to sugarcoat the monstrous evil of communism. The death toll is simply too large.

But the silver lining to the dark cloud of Marxist socialism is that we have some clever jokes and satire.

We’ll start with the Gipper. Here are some of his anti-communism jokes that I should have included in my collection of Reagan videos.

Makes me miss Reagan even more. The only great president of my lifetime, and either the best or second-best president of the 20th century.

But let’s stay on topic. Here’s a cartoon that sums up the “success” of communist systems.

The folks at Redpanels, by the way, also have produced great cartoons on Keynesian economics, the minimum wage, basic income, and infrastructure.

Perhaps because of the rise of Antifa, even the Onion is mocking communism. Here are some excerpts, but the entire article is worth reading.

The filthy, disorganized apartment shared by three members of the Amherst College Marxist Society is a microcosm of why the social and economic utopia described in the writings of Karl Marx will never come to fruition, sources reported Monday. …Upon moving in together at the beginning of the fall 2001 semester, Dorff, Josh Foyle, and Tom Eaves sat down and devised an egalitarian system for harmonious living. Each individual roommate would be assigned a task, which he would be required to carry out on a predetermined day of the week. A bulletin board in the kitchen was chosen as the spot for household announcements, and to track reimbursements for common goods like toothpaste and toilet paper. “We were creating an exciting new model for living,” said Dorff, stubbing his cigarette into an ashtray that had not been emptied in six days. …Despite the roommates’ optimism, the system began to break down soon after its establishment. To settle disputes, the roommates held weekly meetings of the “Committee of Three.” …After weeks of complaining that he was the only one who knew how to clean “halfway decent,” Foyle began scaling back his efforts, mirroring the sort of production problems experienced in the USSR and other Soviet bloc nations. …The roommates have also tried to implement a food-sharing system, with similarly poor results. The dream of equal distribution of shared goods quickly gave way to pilferage, misallocation, and hoarding. “I bought the peanut butter the first four times, and this Organic Farms shit isn’t cheap,” Eaves said. “So ever since, I’ve been keeping it in my dresser drawer. If Kirk wants to make himself a sandwich, he can run to the corner store and buy some Jif.” …The lack of funds and the resulting scarcity breeds not only discontent but also corruption. Although collectivism only works when all parties contribute to the fullest extent, Foyle hid the existence of a $245 paycheck from roommates so he would not have to pay his back rent, in essence refusing to participate in the forced voluntary taxation that is key to socialism. Even worse, Dorff, who is entrusted with bill collection and payment, recently pocketed $30, a theft he claimed was “for the heating bill” but was put toward buying drinks later that night.

If you don’t want to read the entire story from the Onion, this cartoon basically has the same message.

Here’s a cartoon mocking the common excuse that Marxist socialism only fails because the right people haven’t been in charge.

There’s nothing subtle about this next bit of satire.

Though I wonder if the Occupy Wall Street crowd would even recognize that it’s a joke rather than serious.

Reminds me of this socialism poster.

Here’s a video from Reason‘s John Stossel. It makes very serious points, but has a mocking tone that I appreciate, so I decided to include it in today’s column.

Last but not least, let’s make fun of the guy who gave Marxism its name.

I have no idea if the various factoids in this image are true, but since Marx unleashed so much evil on the world, I’m more than willing to share unfair attacks on his “good name.”

At the risk of repeating myself, communism is an utterly evil system.

If you have some good anti-communist humor, please share in the comments section.

I’ll close by wondering whether the people who mocked communism when the Soviet Union still existed played a role in winning the Cold War. Yes, I realize that sounds like a bit of stretch, but I think mockery is an under-appreciated weapon. Anti-communism humor attacked the moral foundations of the Marxist system, something that was important since there were plenty of dupes and apologists who gave aid and comfort to tyranny.

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I should probably be writing about the tax bill, or augmenting my series on the 100th anniversary (deathiversary?) of communism, but I can’t resist sharing some humor about socialism that appeared in my inbox this morning.

Earlier this year, I posted a column entitled, “Everything you need to know about socialism in three pictures.”

Today, we’ll look at three more images to learn about socialism.

And the first one, which I received today, is my favorite since it might actually help educate Crazy Bernie about the inherent unfairness of socialism (sort of like this yard sign).

I wonder, by the way, if the Democratic National Committee and the rest of the Democrat establishment now regrets rigging the rules in favor of Hillary? And why did they even bother when DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz couldn’t even explain the difference between a Democrat and a socialist?

But let’s stick to the topic of socialism. I shared an amusing image back in January making the point that nobody ever has to crawl under barbed wire to escape free markets. Though, as illustrated below, I sometimes wish advocates of socialism in America would stop trying to impose that awful ideology on the rest of us and just move someplace that already practices that poisonous system.

I do wonder whether a year in some hellhole such as Venezuela, North Korea, or Cuba would change their opinions.

Last but not least, I like this third image because it cleverly makes two points.

First, it reveals how some on the left would actually prefer equal levels of poverty rather than unequal levels of prosperity (if you think I’m exaggerating, the IMF inadvertently confirmed Thatcher’s warning by trying to justify a 30 percent reduction in national income if it meant a society would have more equal levels of misery).

Second, it wryly observes that there’s always a rich elite in socialist nations.

The moral of the story is that socialism should be mocked, both in theory and practice.

P.S. I recommend my two-part series (here and here) on the bizarre allure of socialism, though here’s all you really need if you want to understand the economics of that awful ideology.

P.P.S. I shared some pro-socialist humor last year, both because I thought it was somewhat clever but also because it gave me the opportunity to point out that voluntary sharing isn’t socialism.

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I’ve shared a couple of amusing posts featuring Libertarian Jesus (see here and here), both of which make the point that compassion isn’t demonstrated by redistributing someone else’s income.

So it’s time to create a parallel character. We’ll call him Libertarian Doofus.

He already made one appearance in my libertarian humor collection, showing that he has a one-track mind, but not like most men.

Now Libertarian Doofus strikes again (as usual, credit belongs to Reddit‘s libertarian page). He’s somehow captured the imagination of a lovely young lass.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s too myopic to take advantage of the situation.

Given the poor track record of the Federal Reserve, the corruption of Washington insiders, and the brutality of the income tax and IRS, can we really fault Doofus for being distracted from amorous pursuits?

And here’s how Doofus got to where he is today. He began as a clean-cut, well-adjusted lad. And then…

No wonder people roll their eyes when Doofus shows up for Thanksgiving dinner.

Finally, Doofus may not socially adept, but he is popular with the ladies. Though, once again, he is so focused on liberty that other opportunities go to waste.

This probably isn’t a good advertisement for libertarianism!

It’s like admitting we’re misfits with no social life.

So I’ll end by noting that libertarians sometimes do seize opportunities.

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I’ve made very serious (and hopefully substantive) arguments about why small government and free markets are the recipe for prosperity.

Simply stated, profit and loss is a powerful feedback mechanism, and entrepreneurs and business owners who want to make money face constant pressure to attract consumers by offering better products at affordable prices.

These forces are so powerful that the private sector even does a good job in some areas that most people assume are reserved for government, such as criminal justice, roads, and airport security.

But let’s examine this issue today from a whimsical perspective. I found a couple of clever images on Reddit‘s libertarian page.

Here’s the first example, which will make instantaneous sense for anyone who’s ever walked into a McDonald’s and a DMV on the same day.

The second example is more elaborate, but makes a similar point. Those of us with gray hair have seen the amazing developments produced by the private sector in this collage.

But can anyone think of something that has improved in the public sector?

For what it’s worth, the two cars in the column for the private sector don’t look that different. But, once again, those with gray hair will probably remember how often they used to break down in the past. The computerized engines have greatly improved operations and maintenance. Not to mention map programs, built-in TVs for the kids in the back seat, and other positive changes.

Let’s close with a serious point. Yes, business owners are greedy. They’re looking out for their own self interest. They would love to charge us high prices.

But a system of free enterprise means that they can only earn money if they cater to our needs and wants. And so long as politicians aren’t showering them with bailouts, subsidies, protection, or handouts, that means they compete to provide us ever-better goods and services at ever-more-affordable prices.

In other words, Adam Smith was right.

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In my collection of libertarian humor, my favorite item is probably the video mocking us for reflexive anti-statism. It presumably was put together by a statist, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s very clever satire.

Though if you prefer favorable humor, I very much enjoy Libertarian Jesus (featured here and here) because he makes a very serious point about the absurdity of equating government coercion with compassion (a lesson Pope Francis needs to understand).

Today, I have an updated version of the collage I shared back in 2012. Here’s how the world see libertarians.

Since I’ve taken my kids shooting (and raised them to have sound views), the top-left item has a good bit of truth. And there are some libertine libertarians, so conservative and parents aren’t being totally unfair in their stereotypes.

I very much approve the lower-left frame because it mocks (I think) the totalitarians who want more government – even if they think of themselves as anarchists. Libertarian wonks understand what true anarchism is.

Let’s close with a generic political joke.

You start with a cage containing four monkeys, and inside the cage you hang a banana on a string, and then you place a set of stairs under the banana.

Before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.

You then spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt. As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray ALL the monkeys with cold water.

Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey. The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, ALL of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original four monkeys, replacing it with a new monkey. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment – with enthusiasm – because he is now part of the “team.”

Then, replace a third original monkey with a new monkey, followed by the fourth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs.

Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water.

Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the Banana.

Why, you ask? Because in their minds, that is the way it has always been!

This is how today’s House and Senate operates, and this Is why
from time to time, ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME!

DISCLAIMER: This is meant as no disrespect to monkeys.

P.S. If you enjoy generic political humor, I have several additional examples here.

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In my collection of libertarian-related humor, I have some items that are very funny in large part because they take something that is (at least somewhat) true and stretch it to an absurd level.

Especially in my collection of anti-libertarian jokes.

But now I have the ultimate insult. This photo from the libertarian page on Reddit is a biting example of the “missionary” in the bottom row showing the 24 types of libertarians. Someone who is so driven to proselytize that they overlook….um…other normal human impulses.

For what it’s worth, I consider myself a multi-tasking libertarian.

I don’t think there are many people in the world who share my deep-seated hostility to the IRS and internal revenue code.

But I also try to live a balanced life, with time for other pursuits such as Georgia football, Yankees baseball, playing softball, and…um…something else, but I’m getting so old that I forget what that other thing is.

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