Freeman

ARTICLE

Painless Subsidy or--Progress In Fiscal Equity

NOVEMBER 01, 1960 by H.P.B. JENKINS

Economist at Fayetteville, Arkansas

It was a foggy afternoon

At story-telling time.

Old Kaspar chewed a dead cigar

and thinned his rum-and-lime,

While Peterkin and Wilhelmine

Turned on the futurama screen.

 

They saw a crowd of drooping men

Go through an open door

And dump their loads of dollar bills

Upon the marble floor.

Then each would pick his dollars up

And gambol like a frisky pup.

 

"Now tell us what it’s all about!"

The little children cried.

"It is the Painless Subsidy,"

Old Kaspar soon replied.

"It gives a man a bulging purse,

But leaves his conscience none the worse."

 

"There was a time," Old Kaspar said,

"When fiscal arts were crude,

And people got their subsidies

By methods slow and rude—

With tax collectors breaking heads

And tearing mattresses to shreds."

 

"But now a self-respecting man

Can get a subsidy

Of any size his heart desires

And spend it blamelessly.

No longer need he feel remorse

For neighbors robbed by legal force."

 

"But why have subsidies at all,

If each his own must pay?"

"We can’t have economic growth,

I’ve heard the Planners say,

Without abundant subsidies

To stimulate the industries."

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

November 1960

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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