Friday, November 28, 2008

The Politics of Jealousy

The great economist Thomas Sowell likes to illustrate his arguments through the use of old jokes from the defunct Soviet Union. Those jokes helped Russians survive in a system designed to crush the individual.

In his last column he uses a tale about two poor peasants, Ivan and Boris. The only difference between them was that Boris had a goat and Ivan didn't. One day, Ivan came upon a strange-looking lamp and, when he rubbed it, a genie appeared. She told him that she could grant him just one wish, but it could be anything in the world.

Ivan said, "I want Boris' goat to die."

Somehow this fable comes to mind after every discussion I have with my liberal friends about the American economy.

One such a friend, a newly retired teacher, who collects a pension in the neighborhood of $70,000 dollars a year, kept ranting about the oil companies and their obscene profits. When I asked her if she realized that retirement funds such as the one from which she is collecting her pension were among the greatest stockholders in those corporations she retorted with the same intellectual acumen I have gotten from most bleeding hearts:

Where did you get that from?

The argument was over. The Merlot definitely helped.

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