Dan Crawford

February 20, 2005

Economics 12

Professor Foldvary



Economic Story


            The rag left dirty streaks as the bartender slowly polished the countertop.  At the far end of the bar small business of the past day slipped in and out of the man’s mind.  Business to this man was nothing. Nothing.  “Another round for the house!” the drunkard harped.  For the three people that were still at the bar all tipped their hats to him and declined the gift.  “What do you mean you don’t want it?  It is free you know!” slurring his words, the man motioned to the bar tender to begin pouring the drinks.   

            “It isn’t that we don’t want it, we just do not want to owe you anything, and there is no thing as a free lunch.”  The man at the far end of the booth exclaimed.

            “Suuures therrre issss” getting up now with two drinks in hand; the man began making his way towards the booth intending to occupy the final seat.  “How do yous thin’ I am payings for all thisss?”

            “I am sure you have a respectable job that earns good money” said the man wearing the Stetson low over his head. 

            “Sure do.” Said the man slumming into the booth and sloshing most of the drinks out of the tumblers before he could get them placed on the table.  “Barkee.  Bring the other two over here.”

            The bar tender made his way through the forest of tables with chairs placed upright on them for the night.  “Here you gentlemen go anything else I can do for you?  And Oscar I will just put these on you tab.” 

            “Sure thing Barkee, but it isn’t my tab remember it is the governments tab!” Oscar said sarcastically as he chuckled to himself allowing the spirits in his drink to take over the laugh of his body.  As he concluded his convulsive laugh, Oscar asked “so what is it you gentlemen do for a living?”

            The first man stated he was an accountant, the second a lawyer and the man wearing the Stetson said he owned land that produced barley and wheat across the Midwest.  “We are actually here on business, apparently there is a glut of wheat in the market right now and we are working out what to do with what we currently have on hand,” stated the lawyer.  “There are so many laws and regulations polluting the agriculture market that we are discussing selling the land and investing elsewhere.”

            “Interesting, may I make a recommendation, from my professional experience?” interjected Oscar in an off hand fashion.

            “And what would your professional experience be in?” asked the lawyer.  “I mean what is it that you do for a living?”

            “Actually I am in the agriculture market as well, except unlike you gentlemen who grow and produce a good, I grow and produce NOTHING!” Exclaimed the Oscar who is becoming roused by the idea of him being one better than his is new acquaintances. 

            “So if you grow and produce nothing, what is your real job and professional expertise comes from.  Growing nothing means you have no quantity and no price therefore no revenue or chance of profit,” stated the accountant in a lecturing tone.

            “You see here is the beauty of it.  I do NOTHING for a living.  I simply was grandfathered into the land I now own, and the government takes it upon themselves to pay me to own the land and do NOTHING with.  At one time when I was a child the farm land I lived on was golden with the crop of wheat but now it sits unplowed and prosperous of only weeds” said Oscar who was sure getting a kick out of the faces of the three other gentlemen in the booth.  “You see the government is in the business of helping us farmers.  What you should be doing is thanking me; I am not producing my wheat and in turn keeping the prices for wheat that you sell at a premium.”

            “That makes no sense,” argued the farmer, “I work for every penny I earn in caring for my crops each year, and you are telling me that you are making just as much if not more than I am making by producing NOTHING!  Who would pay for such a thing, let alone support your laziness?!”

            “YOU DO!” remarked Oscar who realized he had hammered into the vein of the situation.  “You see the government taxes its people and the taxes are disseminated throughout the system, even I pay taxes, but you could look at it this way:  I pay taxes but the taxes give me back a lot more than they give you back.  While you anticipate a small return on taxes each year I anticipate my year’s salary!  It is a beautiful system the government has created, that is paying farmers like me not to grow, in essence paying me to do nothing!”  At this point Oscar was beginning to realize the growing discontent for his presence at the table and began edging out of the booth.  As Oscar stood up he found it necessary to interject one last comment; “You gentlemen have no need to thank me for the drinks, after all it is your tax dollars that paid for them, G’nite to you.”

            The three men sat puzzled in the booth as Oscar strode away.  Was this true, did this drunken babbling man truly do nothing and get paid for it.  The lawyer thought it to be absurd.  The accountant reasoned that Oscar was lying.  But the farmer knew that the government had such programs, and now the farmer was seriously considering joining the likes of Oscar, because what is the incentive to work hard if you don’t have to work at all and get paid for it?!