All Commentary
Thursday, September 1, 1960

Commuter-Train Subsidies or–The Mechanics Of Painless Pauperism

Economist at Fayetteville, Arkansas


It was a sunny afternoon

At story-telling time.

Old Kaspar searched for more cigars

and checked his rum-and-lime,

While Peterkin and Wilhelmine

Looked at the futurama screen.


They saw a crowded city street,

Where slinky men in pairs

Were slipping up on passers-by

To catch them unawares

And lift their cash from hand or hip

Without a fumbled touch or flip.


“Is that a gang of robbers there?”

The little children cried.

“It’s just another hidden tax,”

Old Kaspar soon replied.

“That’s how the Treasury obtains

The cash to aid commuter trains.”


“Commuter trains,” said Kaspar then,

 “Are needed every day;

But now their costs have soared beyond

 What passengers will pay.

That’s why they get a subsidy

To keep them out of bankruptcy.”


“Why don’t we use an open tax?”

Asked little Peterkin.

“Commuters have such tender hearts,”

Said Kaspar with a grin,

” ‘Twould make them suffer dreadfully

To see who paid the subsidy.”


“It seems a very thoughtful plan,”

Breathed little Wilhelmine.

“It keeps commuters,” Kaspar said,

“Contented and serene.

The Planners take the greatest pains

 To shelter folks from moral strains.”

  • H. P. B. JENKINS, 1902-1963. Following active service in the European Theater during World War II, Dr. Harry Jenkins taught Economics in the College of Business Ad­ministration at the University of Arkansas. Many will best remember him as author of the "Old Kasper" communiques, carried continuously in THE FREEMAN since February 1959.

    Dr. Jenkins was stricken and died while walking home from graduation ceremonies on the campus, January 26, 1963.