THE RATIONALIZED ECONOMICS OF THE GREAT ZIT

© Andy Turnbull, 2006



Bobblopia is the richest country in the world, with an average annual income of $982,516 Zingles per person. By Bobblopian law, the Zingle is equal to the U.S. dollar.

Our economic boom began in the 1950's when gourmets around the world discovered Bobblopian begonia honey, made from the nectar of Bobblopia's national flower. Delicatessens in New York, New Rochelle, New Haven and New Bedford gladly paid high prices for all the honey Bobblopian bee-keepers could produce.

By 1970 begonias had replaced food crops on most of the farms around the capital city of Bobblopolis. That reduced food production, of course, but the farms of nearby Squidgefalia produced more than enough food for both countries and, because wages in Squidgefalia were so much lower, food prices in Bobblopia dropped.

And at the same time the country was becoming richer because as the bee business boomed, it boosted other Bobblopian industries. The first manufacturing success was the Bobblopia Bee Box Company, which made bee-hives of Bobblopian balsam wood. Bee keepers around the world bought Bobblopian bee boxes, and Bobblopia developed a second major export business.

With the bee box business buzzing, Bobblopian begonia breeders built a third successful export trade, breeding beautiful blue, black, brown, burgundy and bi-colored begonias. Other Bobblopian businesses soon broke into world markets and before long Bobblopia lead the world in the production of bug belts, bat bats, bug boppers, beetle boots, bunny belts, bimbo bras, building braces, bottle bungs, baby bottles, adult bottles, box bottles and bottle boxes.

By 1980 unemployment was unknown and Bobblopia's 100,000 citizens boasted the highest standard of living in the world. Minimum wage was Z75,000 year, and most factories served free champagne and smoked salmon at the beginning and end of every shift.

But at that point Bobblopia was just a nation of wealthy farmers and working men. It was not until the rise of Zebediah Zigglethorpe, revered in Bobblopian history as "The Great Zit", that Bobblopia became really rich.

Once a humble honey homogenizer Zigglethorpe's father made a fortune by converting food farms to begonia fields and, seeing the wave of the future, he sent his son to study at the London School of Ergonomics.

With a consummate understanding of the economics of ergonomics Zebediah bought a master's degree in form fudging and a doctorate in transcendental mediation, and thus became the best-educated man in Bobblopia. On his return home he was appointed Bean of the Bobblopian Academy of Bee Keeping, Box Building and Begonia Breeding. It was here that Zigglethorpe developed his world-famous theory of rationalized economics.

The wealth of the country is the sum of the wealth of its citizens, he said, so the obvious way to increase the wealth of the country is to increase the wealth of the citizens.

The Zit had seen the great economies of the world, and he knew that the people who actually produce things never make as much as the people who live off them. Working men might make Z75,000 a year but lawyers, speculators, civil servants, lobbyists and regulators make Z150,000 and more. It was obvious that there was more money to be made in the regulation of business than in business itself.

So The Zit decided to replace Bobblopia's traditional industries with the new industries of litigation abrogation, arrogation, conjugation, regulation and obfuscation. If the honey money were invested wisely, he said, all Bobblopians could be trained for professions that paid much higher wages than bee keeping or manufacturing.

Under his plan Bobblopia would produce nothing and would have to import nearly everything used in daily life -- but what matter? Other nations produce goods, The Zit argued, and with enough regulation Bobblopians would be rich enough to import whatever they wanted.

Other countries would benefit too, he said, because Bobblopians would be so rich they could afford to pay top price for imports.

One week after his appointment as Secretary of Education and Economics The Zit closed the Academy of Bee Keeping, Box Building and Begonia Breeding and opened the new University of Bobblopolis to teach law, business and liberal arts with post-graduate courses in trivialization, mendication, meritricity and other highly-paid occupations. Tuition was free and young Bobblopians by the thousands enrolled in the glamorous new courses that would prepare them for important and well-paid careers.

Some die-hard traditionalists continued to produce honey, bee boxes and other products but this too was part of the plan. As graduates streamed out of the university new government agencies hired them to write reams of new regulations to control business.

One regulation required bee keepers to pay royalties to the owners of private gardens where the bees collected nectar, and another authorized them to charge the owners of gardens for pollination services performed by their bees.

Bee keepers and gardeners complained about the extra paperwork but, as The Zit explained to his fellow economists, the small sacrifice of the convenience of the bee keepers provided enormous economic benefits to the country as a whole.

Even as the regulations were approved the new Department of Bees and Gardens hired 10,000 bee trackers to keep official records of which bees collected nectar and pollinated in which gardens. Later, after the Ministry agreed to provide three days paid sick leave for any bee tracker who was stung while banding bees, another 5,000 trackers were hired.

Banded bees could not fly quite as well as bees without bands and as the program developed production of honey declined slightly, but that was a small loss. The cost of administration of the new regulations added tens of millions of Zingles to the gross national product, and the net gain to the economy was more than three times the loss in honey production.

And the benefits increased when bee keepers challenged the new regulation in court. In the first hearing the government matched the bee keeper's one lawyer with a dozen and, when the bee keepers hired a dozen lawyers, the government hired another dozen.

Within six months that one case provided work for the entire first year graduating class of the University of Bobblopolis law school, and filled the new courthouse The Zit had thoughtfully built before the regulations were announced.

Later an extension to the same courthouse provided space for the Golliwockian religion's case against the new regulation. Because Golliwockians do not believe in pollination, they argued, Golliwockian gardeners should not have to pay for it.

A special surtax on bee keepers, levied to pay for the new addition to the courthouse, put several hundred of them out of business but that was no matter. Lawyers and court officials, bee trackers and administrators were all paid more than bee keepers, so the net gain to the economy far outweighed the loss.

And the wisdom of the plan became obvious when the fashion suddenly changed and gourmets began to buy Squidgefalian honey. The change could have been a disaster for bee keepers, but The Zit was ready with a program under which the government would buy Bobblopian honey at market price and store it until the market improved.

Fortunately the government had already decreed, only one month before the market collapse, that all Bobblopian honey must be stabilized with formaldehyde to prevent deterioration in storage.

Critics complained that formaldehyde changes the flavor of honey but that was a small price to pay, the Department of Food and Fertilizer argued, for the assurance that Bobblopian honey would always be at its best.

With the honey business optimized the government turned its attention to manufacturing, and soon new regulations began to increase the economic yield of bee box building and other businesses. Several Bobblopian manufacturers lost market share as the regulations came into force, but again the economic gain to the nation far outweighed the small loss in exports.

When some Bobblopian industry moved to nearby Squidgefalia, The Zit argued that this was no loss because by now industry paid less than minimum wages. Fortunately, wages for regulators, administrators and other civil servants were much higher and rising fast.

Soon all Bobblopians had professional careers and all menial jobs were in the hands of thousands of Squidgefalians who commuted by private plane to work in Bobblopia. Eventually, air traffic increased so much that the government had to build new airports on the former begonia fields.

When the government took a bigger role in the economy taxes had to be increased, of course, but that produced even more economic benefits.

As taxes were increased farmers, manufacturers and businessmen began hiring professional tax consultants to help them figure out the increasingly-complex formulas and find the increasingly-decreasing loopholes that would minimize their taxes.

This created more work for highly paid consultants, and the consultants managed to shift so much of the tax load to the working class that eventually working men had to hire tax consultants too, in self defense. This produced so much more business for the tax consultants that they were able increase their rates, thus adding even more to the national economy.

But when the tax consultants' rates increased working men found they couldn't afford them either. Increasing numbers of citizens tried to evade taxes, thus creating employment for a whole new corps of tax police, judges and other employees of tax courts, and the staff for three new prisons built to house tax evaders.

One prison might have been enough but, as prices and taxes both increased, and as newspapers reported that food and accommodations in the prisons were considerably better than the national average, some citizens refused to pay taxes and insisted on their right to be imprisoned as tax evaders.

As a simple farming and manufacturing economy Bobblopia had missed the pressures of inflation but as more Bobblopians achieved professional status, some prices began to increase.

After careful study a government commission announced that the cost of living had increased by an average of about 435% per year for the past five years. It was not a serious problem within Bobblopia because civil service wages and pensions were indexed to the cost of living, but as The Zit pointed out it indicated serious economic problems in the rest of the world.

Because of these problems, The Zit explained, foreign countries were beginning to under-value the Zingle. To protect the Bobblopian economy he temporarily nationalized all foreign currency in Bobblopia and made it illegal to trade Zingles for any other currency.

Then he called a meeting of his senior advisers to consider the problem. Bobblopian newspapers reported the first six years of that meeting in detail but three years ago, after some malcontents demonstrated on the street outside his palace, The Zit moved to a rented estate near Miami. Now we're not sure what is happening, but we do know the problem is going to be solved.

After all, we do have the best regulators anywhere and, as The Zit has proved, anything can be regulated. Bobblopia is the richest country in the world and, when other countries solve their economic problems and agree to trade the Zingle at it's legal value, our standard of living will be even higher.

Who knows? We may even be able to afford imported delicacies, like Squidgefalian honey!

end


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