Stories from The Onion that Deserved to Be in the AER
By Bryan Caplan
Reflecting on the best social science of 2005, it is striking how much of it appears in The Onion. Here are just a few articles that provide more insight than the typical publication in the American Economic Review:
President Bush proposed a $2.4 trillion election-year budget Monday that would boost defense spending, redistribute funds among government programs, and cross out the $477 billion deficit entirely…
“I was staring at the figure for the deficit, and I decided that it simply could not stand,” Bush said. “It was too high. Something had to be done. But Americans have been taxed and taxed. I say ‘Enough taxes.’ By my estimation, this historical crossing-out of the deficit will save American taxpayers millions, billions, and perhaps even bajillions of dollars.”
After calling the device “the item single-handedly responsible for the erosion of our nation’s social and cultural foundation” for close to a decade, Jason Whiting gave in to social pressures this weekend and bought a cell phone…
“This is for emergencies only,” he said. “In case my car stalls on the freeway and I need to call for help, or in the event that I absolutely must get in touch with someone but am away from home.”
Whiting first used the phone Sunday night to check movie times for March Of The Penguins.
“In fact, I use it so little that, when I went to the theater, I forgot to turn off the ringer,” Whiting said. “When it started ringing, right away I said, ‘Who’s the jerk with the cell phone?’ and I didn’t realize it was me…”
The 14 democratic member nations of the Middle Eastern Union unanimously voted to declare war on the U.S. Monday, calling the North American country a “dangerous rogue state that must be contained.”
“The United States of America has repeatedly violated international law and committed human-rights abuses at home and abroad,” MEU President Mohamed Rajib said at a Monday security-council meeting. “MEU weapons inspectors have confirmed that the U.S. continues to pursue their illegal ununhexium-weapons program. Our attempts to bring about change through diplomatic means have repeatedly failed. Now, we are forced to take military action.”
A report released Monday by the Federal Consumer Quality-Of-Life Control Board indicates that the cost of living now outstrips life’s benefits for many Americans.
“This is sobering news,” said study director Jack Farness. “For the first time, we have statistical evidence of what we’ve suspected for the past 40 years: Life really isn’t worth living.”
According to the study, high-risk, short-term, interest-based investments in the lives of others cost thousands of dollars a year and rarely yield benefits, financial or otherwise. Although conservative, long-term partnerships do provide limited returns, the study indicates that they tie up capital and limit options.
What makes these articles so good? Sometimes, it’s bluntly stating the obvious. Sometimes, it’s exaggerating what is already absurd. And sometimes, it’s drawing attention to subtleties that everyone else overlooks.
There’s already a lot of economics in comedy; what we need is more comedy in economics. Happy New Year, Econlog.