When this one runs out, another virus please

Government answer to government imposed unemployment and business collapse

More money for no work, makes sense*

Businesses on the dole that could not compete

Some unions agitating for hazard pay**

Strangely the bandwagon antic was not entertained for exposure to “ordinary” flu seasons (but we can hear them tuning up)

I’m not familiar with Mr. Opelka, but apparently he is best known as a musical composer-lyricist. But I think if he decides to quit his day job, he’d be a pretty good journalist/columnist. (from the Wall Street Journal, 5/28/20)

This puts congressional lunacy in the proper context that I’ve seen not done any better. (And Nancy P. comes as close to a Marxist (of either type) as possible.)    dlh

Marxist Economic Policy—as in Groucho  
The unemployment bonus is straight out of ‘Animal Crackers.’

We’re all Marxists now. Not Karl, Groucho. There’s a famous sketch in “Animal Crackers” (1930) in which Groucho (as Captain Spaulding) quizzes Chico (Signor Emanuel Ravelli) on how much money the band gets paid. “What do you fellas get an hour?” Groucho asks. “For playing we get $10 an hour,” Chico replies.

Groucho presses: “I see. What do you get for not playing?” “For not playing we get $12 an hour. . . . Now for rehearsing, we make special rate. That’s $15 an hour.” Groucho: “That’s for rehearsing? And what do you get for not rehearsing?” Chico: “You couldn’t afford it. You see, if we don’t rehearse, we don’t play. And if we don’t play, that runs into money.”

Ninety years ago, a couple of vaudevillian cutups engaged in an exercise of Keynesian reductio ad absurdum which stands even today as a two-minute master class in fiscal restraint. It highlights a problem with the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Every member of Congress should be required to view this film. It wouldn’t hurt the president and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to do so too.

I have a musician friend, Jim. He plays the bass. Jim is a talented man, and his gigging takes many forms—studio recording as well as live performance. As has happened to so many, his entire livelihood dried up overnight in mid-March. After filing for unemployment relief, he was grateful to receive the bulk of his lost weekly income but equally surprised by the unexpected $600-a-week bonus.

Without auditioning for it, Jim has become an unofficial member of Signor Ravelli’s Animal Crackers orchestra. He recently complained, only half ironically, that he doesn’t know how he’ll make ends meet once he can work again. Suddenly, he’s singing the economic equivalent of St. Augustine’s famous prayer for redemption: “Please let me work again, Lord—just not yet.”

In the 1980s economist Arthur Laffer popularized the notion of an ideal, lower tax rate. If you tax something too much, the Laffer curve posits, you get less of it. In the government’s recent fiscal and monetary response to the pandemic, we have the inverse corollary, the Sloth curve. If you create incentives for unemployment, you get more of it.

If politicians continue to dole out largess at the current rate, my friend Jim will have his best year in a long time and, like Signor Ravelli’s band, he’ll have no incentive to go back to playing.

*pictures/captions not in original, unattributed in internet search

**Unions calling for hazard pay, here and here

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