Little Bobby Takes a Math Test – Highlighting Mainstream Economic Nonsense

I really hate to explain things in such a childish manner, because, in part, I feel you will think that I am insulting you. I can assure you that is not my intent. It is the mainstream that is insulting you. I am merely trying to find ways to clean up the mess that politicians like Hillary Clinton, Mitch McConnell, David Cameron, George Osborne and Barack Obama make. So, for those who do understand, you will pardon today’s article.

Rather than write another long exposition in essay format, I’ve decided to compose a dialogue – kind of like Plato did – in order to illustrate the economic nonsense flowing from Republicans, Democrats, Lib-Dems, the Tories and yes, even Labour as well. What is interesting is that nearly 100% of the general public in the US, UK and Australia will find the following dialogue to be absolutely absurd. They will read it and say, “That is just ridiculous. The whole thing is utterly stupid.” However, when applied to national government spending, the following dialogue would suddenly make perfect sense to nearly 100% of the general public in the US, UK and Australia. Talk about bizarre.

Anyway, let’s join little Bobby as he takes his math test, already in progress.

Bob: “Let’s see, four plus ten is fourteen. Uh-oh. I only have the number eight left. There are more math questions on this test than I have numbers to write down. Now what? Maybe Ted has some spare numbers. I’ll ask him if I can borrow some. Ted? Ted!”

Ted: “Yeah?”

Bob: “I only have the number eight left and I need to write the number fourteen. You got any spare numbers?”

Ted: “Um, I don’t know. How many do you need?”

Bob: “I need the number six.”

Ted: “No, I only have eighteen and I need to finish…”

Bob: “Come on. I’ll give you my Star Wars Lego Playstation game in exchange. That way, you know I’ll pay you back.”

Ted: “Well, I…”

Teacher: “Boys! Why are you whispering? Are you two cheating on the test?”

Bob: “No, ma’am. I only have the number eight left and there are more math questions on this test than I have numbers to write down, so I asked Ted if he had any spare numbers that I could borrow.”

Teacher: “Borrowing is irresponsible. You should know this. What do responsible people do when taking a math test and they find themselves short of numbers?”

Bob: “I don’t know, ma’am.”

Teacher: “They find cuts somewhere! Go back through the test and find numbers that you can erase, then use those you erased somewhere else on the test, silly boy.”

Bob: “But if I do that, then I will leave some of the questions unfinished.”

Teacher: “Well, you should come to class more prepared, shouldn’t you?”

Bob: “Yes, ma’am. I guess I’ll have to find cuts and leave the test unfinished.”

The Next Day…

Teacher: “Bobby, you failed your math test.”

Bob: “I thought so.”

Teacher: “Why did you leave questions seven, eight and nine half answered?”

Bob: “Well, like I said, I ran out of numbers to write down and you told me to find cuts, so I did that, because…”

Teacher: “Because, you are irresponsible, Bobby. You couldn’t get the important things done that needed doing, because you’d rather just waste your numbers. Instead of wasting numbers in notes you are writing to other students, or keeping track of how many points you scored in a football match, you should be more responsible in future and save those numbers so you can invest them in responsible things, like math tests.”

Bob: “Well, my pencil does have lead in it. Couldn’t I just write more numbers down anyway? That way, I could finish the test and worry about the numbers later.”

Teacher: “What?!? Are you crazy?!? You want to write down fake numbers to finish a math test? Do you even hear yourself talking? I swear, you kids act like numbers grow on trees. Writing down fake numbers whenever you feel like it – My God in heaven!”

Bob: “Well, I could…”

Teacher: “Enough of this nonsense! Now you listen to me, Bob – when you grow up and have a career you are going to need numbers. Not fake numbers – real numbers. What are you going to do if your boss tells you to phone an important client but you can’t, because the night before you spent all of your numbers giving some girl that you met at a bar your phone number?”

Bob: “Well, just like writing numbers down, I guess I could also just dial the number anyway and…”

Teacher: “Lord have mercy, child! God give me strength. If you dialed fake numbers, do you know what would happen?”

Bob: “Um, I could make the call and…”

Teacher: “Make the phone call? Sure you could, but then everyone’s phone number would go from seven numbers to fourteen numbers, then to twenty-eight and on up until everyone’s phone number in the country was one trillion numbers long! You’d never be able to call a single person, because you’d spend years just dialing their number!”

Bob: “Gee. I guess I didn’t think about that.”

Teacher: “No, you sure didn’t, Bobby. You want to be handed numbers and just blow them, writing them down to give to other kids, or typing them away on computers for anything. I have seen you tapping numbers on a calculator like there’s no tomorrow. Why?”

Bob: “Because I wanted to know how many days were left in the school year.

Teacher: “Oh, my good gravy! How many days were left in the school year?!? Just sitting there tapping and wasting your numbers, throwing them away to the wind with nothing to show for them, because you wanted to subtract?!? My word! Imagine that – when you should be doing the responsible thing and saving your numbers for a rainy day. If there is anything worthwhile that I can teach you, it is living within your means. You have important responsibilities like school work and you need numbers to do your work, don’t you?”

Bob: “Yes, ma’am.”

Teacher: “Well then, in future, you had better learn some responsibility and I expect to see you come to this class more prepared. If you cannot do that, you won’t amount to anything later in life.”

You find that absurd? Now, follow me here:

UK Gov: “Let’s see, four million plus ten million is fourteen million. Uh-oh. I only have the number eight million (Pounds) left. There are more things I must fund than I have numbers (Pounds). Now what? Maybe China has some spare numbers (Pounds). I’ll ask them if I can borrow some. China? China!”

China: “Yeah?”

UK Gov: “I only have the number eight million (Pounds) left and I need fourteen million to fund some things. You got any spare numbers (Pounds)?”

China: “Um, I don’t know. How many do you need?”

UK Gov: “I need the number six million (Pounds).”

China: “No, I only have eighteen million left and I need to…”

UK Gov: “Come on. I’ll give you a Gilt (Bond for those in the US) in exchange. That way, you know I’ll pay you back.”

China: “Well, I…”

Mainstream Economist: “What are you two talking about?”

UK Gov: “I only have the number eight million (Pounds) and there are more things I must fund than I have numbers (Pounds), so I asked China if it had any spare numbers (Pounds) that I could borrow.”

Mainstream Economist: “Borrowing is irresponsible. You should know this. What do responsible households do when they find themselves short of numbers (Pounds)?”

UK Gov: “I don’t know.”

Mainstream Economist: “They find cuts somewhere! Go back through your budget and find numbers (Pounds) that you can save, then use those numbers (Pounds) you saved somewhere else to fund new spending.”

UK Gov: “But if I do that, then I will leave some essential programmes underfunded or unfunded.”

Mainstream Economist: “Well, you should have lived within your means, shouldn’t you have?”

UK Gov: “Yes. I guess I’ll have to find cuts and privatise the NHS.”

The Next Year…

Mainstream Economist: “Well, you are broke – totally bankrupt.”

UK Gov: “I thought so.”

Mainstream Economist: “Why did you cut business subsidies?”

UK Gov: “Well, like I said, I ran out of numbers (Pounds) and you told me to find cuts, so I did that, because…”

Mainstream Economist: “Because, you are irresponsible. You couldn’t get the important things done that needed doing like incentives for business, because you’d rather just waste your numbers (Pounds). Instead of wasting numbers (Pounds) on benefits and the NHS, or blowing numbers (Pounds) on infrastructure, you should be more responsible in future and save those numbers (Pounds) so you can invest them in responsible things, like subsidies for business which result in job creation.”

UK Gov: “Well, tell you what. I never thought about this before, but my keyboard does have numbers on it. Couldn’t I just type more numbers in bank accounts anyway? That way, I could fund everything that needs to be funded.”

Mainstream Economist: “What?!? Are you crazy?!? You want to print fake numbers (Pounds) to fund spending? Do you even hear yourself talking? I swear, you act like the UK government issues numbers (Pounds). Printing fake numbers (Pounds) whenever you feel like it – My God in heaven!”

UK Gov: “Well, I could…”

Mainstream Economist: “Enough of this nonsense! Now you listen to me – when you want to spend, you are going to first need numbers from taxpayers (an income = Pounds). Not fake numbers (fake Pounds) – real numbers (Pounds). What are you going to do if you need to bailout a bank but you can’t, because before the crisis you spent all of your numbers (Pounds) giving them to people on benefits?”

UK Gov: “Well, like I said, I could just type more numbers (Pounds) in bank accounts anyway.”

Mainstream Economist: “Lord have mercy, you idiot! God give me strength. If you printed fake numbers (Pounds), do you know what would happen?”

UK Gov: “Um, I would be spending?”

Mainstream Economist: “Spending? Sure you would be spending, but then everyone’s numbers (Pounds) would lose value! To buy salad cream, the price would go from four numbers (Pounds) to fourteen numbers (Pounds), then to twenty-eight and on up until the price of salad cream for everyone in the country was one trillion numbers (Pounds)!”

UK Gov: “Gee. I guess I didn’t think about that.”

Mainstream Economist: “No, you sure didn’t. You take numbers (Pounds) from responsible, hard working taxpayers and just blow their numbers (Pounds) on people who refuse to work, spending them for just anything. I have seen you typing numbers (Pounds) using Treasury’s keyboard like there’s no tomorrow. Why?”

UK Gov: “Well, I still have to fund some benefits, I guess.

Mainstream Economist: “Oh, my good gravy! Benefits?!? Just sitting there typing and wasting your numbers (Pounds), throwing them away to the wind with nothing to show for them, because you wanted to hand sick and lazy people some numbers (Pounds)?!? My word! Imagine that – when you should be doing the responsible thing and saving your numbers (Pounds) for a rainy day. If there is anything worthwhile that I can teach you, it is living within your means. You have important responsibilities like ensuring that business can thrive so that jobs can be created and you need numbers (Pounds) to afford those tax cuts and incentives, don’t you?”

UK Gov: “Yes.”

Mainstream Economist: “Well then, in future, you had better learn some responsibility and I expect to see you running a budget surplus. If you cannot do that, then the British economy won’t amount to anything in the future.”

Still absurd, isn’t it?

The US Dollar, the British Pound and the Australian Dollar are just numbers issued at will by these governments. They are infinite.

The goods and services produced from the real resources of these nations, that those numbers can buy, are finite.