Disclaimer: This post is rated PG (not G) because of mild jokes about religion and repeated uses of the “s” word, so it’s probably not appropriate for use in high schools.
A well-known series of jokes uses variations on the theme of “Shit happens” to explain world religions, e.g., Taoism: Shit happens. Hinduism: This shit has happened before. Zen: What is the sound of shit happening? Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us? Christian Science: That shit is all in your mind. Quaker: Let’s not fight over this shit. Atheism: I don’t believe this shit. (For more, see here or here.)
S*** happens: the economics version
In the interest of public education, I am compiling a similar list of funny, pithy, and informative one-liners to help illuminate the universe that is economics, including economic disciplines (Environmental economics: Tax that shit. Development economics: How can poor countries get more shit? Behavioral economics: This shit is irrational), economic schools of thought (Classical macroeconomics: Shit does not happen. Neoclassical synthesis: Shit happens in the short run but not in the long run. Supply-side economics: Cut taxes and you’ll get more shit), economic personalities (Paul Krugman: Shit happens because of the Republicans. Greg Mankiw: You can read about this shit in my favorite textbook. Milton Friedman: If you put the federal government in charge of toilets, in five years there would be a shortage of shit), and anything else economics-related that you can think of. Posts will be moderated, and please keep them PG.
PS. I especially encourage jokes by and about the Austrian School, perhaps because I’m still trying to understand it myself!
Help out and you could win Cartoon Macro!
Add your suggestions in the comments fields below (or send me an email). I will select my favorites and include them in my routine, starting with the American Economic Association Humor Session in Chicago on January 7, 2012. In my routine I will give credit to whatever name is listed on your post unless you specifically indicate a desire to be anonymous. And winners will receive an autographed copy of Cartoon Introduction to Economics, Volume Two: Macroeconomics when it comes out in January! (Even without the autograph that’s a $12 value 🙂
Nassim Taleb: Black shit happens.
Adam Smith: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of shit
Nouriel Roubini: There’s a 50% chance of shit happening next quarter
Milton Friedman: Seriously, I know shit
Robert Nozick: Minimal shit is the best shit.
FA Hayek: It’s impossible for central planners to know how everyone shits.
Ayn Rand: I’m not crazy as shit, shit is irrational, I can’t be irrational.
Murray Rothbard: Government is shit all over.
Thomas Sowell: Macroeconomics is shit.
Malthus: Shit grows beyond a society’s ability to handle it.
Adam Smith: The invisible hand keeps the shit flowing where it needs to go.
Gold Standard: We need it because it’s not shit.
Hayek: I do not think it is an exaggeration to say history is largely a history of shit, usually shit engineered by governments for the gain of governments.
Karl Marx: Shit appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.
Karl Marx: Landlords, like all other men, love to shit where they never sowed.
Paul Krugman: The problem isn’t that people don’t understand how good shit is. It’s that they know, from personal experience, that shit really isn’t that good.
Hayek: The progress of the economic bullshit in modern times has of course so much exceeded all expectations that any suggestion that there may be some limits to it is bound to arouse suspicion.
Let’s joke about central banking:
They regulate the amount of liquidity in the markets.
They decide interests rates.
They can print as many dollars as they want.
They decide how much governments can borrow.
They bail out the big banks (not the small banks, the big banks).
The best of all … the good part of this is…
They say “they do it for us!!!”
Seriously? Guys thanks, but NO thanks!
You might think it’s good to have a central manager
of the whole economy, setting interest rates and shit.. right?
Well those guys have been in power for the last 100 years
in the US and in the last 300 years in the UK. And they say….
the crisis is not they fault??
No, they don’t say that, of course.. you know what they say?
“If we were not there, it would have been worse”!!!!
Do you, mmmh do you even think… well let’s put it this way.
Your plumber makes your house leak from everywhere, you suddenly
have a house that is a mess. You will be pretty upset with him, right?
He turns up and say “oh no, it was water sentiment, if I were not there
it would have been worse”.
Thanks for asking jokes from your fan! Hope to be at your UK gig 🙂
[YB: Although this post does contain the word “shit”, it’s otherwise completely off-topic. I’m going to let it slide for now, but I’ll come back and kill it (plus any related posts) if the comments thread veers away from its intended joke-generating purpose :]
[YB: These were submitted via email from Zachary Wefel]:
Pareto Improvement: Taking my shit is only okay when I don’t give a shit.
Kaldor-Hicks Improvement: I can take your stuff if I give a bigger shit
about it than you.
Tragedy of the Commons: When you can’t give a shit because someone used the
last roll of toilet paper.
The Physiocrats: They grow that shit.
Game Theory: When you think that I think that you think that I don’t know
what you think when you think you know what price I think you think I think
is . . . oh, shit.
I heard Martin Weitzman is here, be careful or he will literally steal your shit.
Austrian School (initial premise): All other economic theories are shit.
Methodological Individualism: Everybody has their own shit.
Subjective Theory of Value: How much do you want this shit?
Spontaneous Order: Shit happens (on its own).
Praxeology: This shit is complex.
Laissez Faire: Keep your hands off my shit.
Austrian School (ultimate conclusion): All economic theories are shit.
Ayn Rand/Objectivism #1: Our shit don’t stink, moocher.
Ayn Rand/Objectivism #2: Who Is King Shit?
Externalities: Shit will out.
Pareto principle: 80% of the shit comes from 20% of the assholes.
Greater fool theory: This shit will be even shittier tomorrow.
Winner’s curse: This shit cost too much.
Behavioral economics: People seek to maximize shit.
The two extremes:
Pure Centrally Planned Economy = Big Brother doesn’t just watch you shit, he owns it!
Pure Market Economy = Nice shit! *HOCUS POCUS* It’s mine now! MUAHAHAHA!
The Three Economic Questions:
1. What shit should the economy produce?
2. How should this shit be produced?
3. Who get’s this shit? or Who get’s shit on?
A monetarist and a Keynesian go to the movies. But only the montarist gets in.
Evidently, the Keynesian did not think money mattered.
A microeconomist and an agricultural economist are asked what the farmer said when in the story of The Three Little Pigs the second pig asks a farmer how much for the wagon of straw. The microeconomist says “given the elasticities of demand and supply, and average costs of production, the farmer probably said $2.00 dollars a bale.” The agricultural economist says he thinks the farmer said “Holy crap, a talking pig”.
Being a famous economist is sometimes the luck of the data stream. Think of it, where would Milton Friedman be if the velocity had not been so stable for a time, or Phillips with a negative relationship between inflation and unemployment, or Laffer with well, Reagan.
Law of diminishing marginal returns:
Stage 1) Total shit increases at an increasing rate
Stage 2) Total Shit increases at a decreasing rate
Stage 3) Total shit decreasing (i.e. bullshit)
Law of diminishing marginal returns.
As you get more of a good thing, it becomes less good.
Shitting once is heaven, Shtiing 20 times is stupid.
Neo liberals: if we deregulate shit, someone will use it to fertilize
Trickle down economists: If you lower tax rates of the rich their spits became rain (I know it’s not exactly shit but…)
Greenspan: I’m in a state of shocked disbelief that people shit
Amos Tversky and Kahneman: people don’t shit rationally
Amos Tversky and Kahneman: bigger shit don’t make happier
The business cycle —
Boom: We have more shit than we know what to do with!
Recession: There isn’t enough shit to go around.
Depression: You know why it’s called a DEpression? Because we’re in deep shit.
And of course, after a recession/depression ends, the majority party in Congress just has to say:
We made that shit happen.
“My name is Yoram Bauman I am economist working on climate change – which means I believe that piling one fiction on top of another will help me uncover a deeper truth.”
I have not quite figured out how to get “shit” into this. But perhaps replacing the “fiction” bit with “load of bullshit”, .
While the first version is slightly self deprecating, the bullshit version I think would be too harsh a form of self denial for committed environmental economist like you. It’s more like what an Austrian Economist would say about your work. (-;
I am Austrian -but not an economist – at least I don’t think I am.
PS. Unfortunately I had left the Bank for International Settlements before you did your gig there, but I hope to see you live when you’re back in Europe.
In my post, I attributed the quote ‘Landlords, like all other men, love to shit where they never sowed.’ to Karl Marx. I was wrong; it actually belongs to Adam Smith – apologies.
And the economics teacher, to the comatose high school class:
This s*&@ matters to your life! Really! It does!
In your Shit Happens Presentation, you could had we can optimize the amount of shit according to the Coase theorem if there is well defined right of owning shit (and no shit transaction costs).
Uncertainty: If the marginal utility of shit decreases, individuals are risk-averse.