So, today I was looking for some jokes for the boss, and I stumbled into a bunch about how many conservative economists it would take to change a light bulb. Then, the dog started barking.

For those who need explication, Doofie is a Shetland sheepdog, reputedly highly sensitive to human emotion; and one of my hot buttons had been mashed. Here are some answers:

  1. None. The darkness will cause the light bulb to change by itself.
  2. None. If it really needed changing, market forces would have caused it to happen.
  3. None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.
  4. None. “There is no need to change the light bulb. All the conditions for illumination are in place.
  5. None, because, look! It’s getting brighter! It’s definitely getting brighter !!!
  6. None; they’re all waiting for the unseen hand of the market to correct the lighting disequilibrium.

For some reason, it was not funny to see as jokes what normally parades as intellectual prowess: The assumption that people are like fundamental particles, obedient only to a finite set of predictable laws. The difference between hard and soft science boils down to a matter of human will, the ability to choose amiss, resist, or even outsmart the instructions of the powers that be. That is, a central planner can decide my destiny, but I still can engage in civil disobedience, or move in a contrary direction simply out of ignorance. The planners could have me arrested, but I could still win in court, plan a jail break, go on a hunger strike, or otherwise burn out as a freedom fighter.

I am evidently not alone in my sentiments. Following the joke was another one attacking the source of the jokes as coming from a TA for a Management 666 course. I quite agree.