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Citibank's chief economist, on today's government shutdown:

"The world's largest economy looks like the Land of Oz run by munchkins," Willem Buiter, Citigroup's global chief economist, told CNBC after the U.S. government shutdown began.

Allow me to say, alas, if only.

I have, of course, been one of the loudest and fiercest critics of Ozma, the girl Ruler of Oz, carefully documenting all of the numerous historically attested examples of what I have termed "Ozma fail," including, but not limited to, actions leading to gross injustice, kidnapping, an attack on the Emerald City, war or genocide. So I think I cannot be accused of bias when I say both "if only" and "how unfair," or of gross partisanship if I take up cudgels in her defense.

Oz, after all, is arguably one of the most successful economies in the known or unknown universe, so wealthy that it can even offer a free suite of rooms, elegant food, and free jewels to American hobos who just happen to be passing by. The Emerald City also provides lavish parties and entertainment at no cost to the local population. Areas of the kingdom suffering economic distress can apply for and receive economic assistance from the central government in the Emerald City. The result is an economy that is the marvel of the magical world. I can think of only one negative: the country has been so successful that it has embarked on an ethically questionable colonization program, though Oz's ambassadors assure the Royal Historians of Oz that the several countries of the Nonestic Ocean are eager to join in the economic benefits of Oz's planned, centralized economy.

Mind you, by the standards of Citibank's chief economist, some aspects of the Oz economy may seem a bit alarming. Oz, after all, is a centralized, planned economy offering free universal health care (provided by magic wand and natural, genetic immortality) and education -- an education which children and college students are literally forced to swallow down. Farmers are forced to turn over all agricultural surpluses to the Emerald City to be stored in giant warehouses to be distributed for the common good; products are evenly distributed, with no profit margin. To quote from the greatest of the Royal Historians:

Some tilled the lands and raised great crops of grain, which was divided equally among the entire population, so that all had enough. There were many tailors and dressmakers and shoemakers and the like, who made things that any who desired them might wear. Likewise there were jewelers who made ornaments for the person, which pleased and beautified the people, and these ornaments also were free to those who asked for them. Each man and woman, no matter what he or she produced for the good of the community, was supplied by the neighbors with food and clothing and a house and furniture and ornaments and games.

The Emerald City has also eliminated all overtime:

Every one worked half the time and played half the time...

and executive management:

There were no cruel overseers set to watch them, and no one to rebuke them or to find fault with them.

and, at least in theory, restricts the practice of magic to only three individuals in the country, stifling magical innovation, although in practice this rule is widely circumvented and appears to be a lot less popular than the "no overtime" rule.

To be fair, this economy is run by Ozma, not Munchkins. Point to Citibank.



Oct. 1st, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
Crabbiness? You mean legitimate resentment at finding that some far-removed administrator had arbitrarily decided that your family's traditional trade could no longer be plied!
Oct. 2nd, 2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
See, now, THIS is a legitimate critique of Ozma's government!
Oct. 2nd, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
Yep. And as you probably recall I had Ugu and Erik make a point of that in _Polychrome_.


xmas me
Mari Ness

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