Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Transcript from the Future

by Tom Walker

A source who has asked to remain anonymous has just handed me a transcript of tomorrow's panel discussion at UC Berkeley on Global Unemployment, featuring Brad DeLong, John Quigley, David Card and Andy Rose. As a courtesy to the participants, I have taken the liberty of concealing who will have said what by substituting pseudonyms for the names of the participants. Similarly, the panelists themselves have taken the wise precaution of using the more genteel euphemism "your daughter's illness" to refer to mass unemployment, lest the latter term unleash widespread lamentations and gnashing of teeth among the unwashed and untenured.
DR TOMÉS. Sir, we have been discussing your daughter's illness, and my own view is that it arises from overheating of the blood. My advice is therefore--bleeding as early as possible.

DR DES-FONANDRÉS. In my opinion the trouble is a putrefaction of humours caused by a surfeit of er--er--something or other. My view is that she should be given an emetic.

DR TOMÉS. In my opinion an emetic would kill her.

DR DES-FONANDRÉS. On the contrary, I maintain that to bleed her now would be fatal.

DR TOMÉS. You would try to be clever!

DR DES-FONANDRÉS. I know what I'm talking about. I can give you points on any professional question.

DR TOMÉS. Don't forget how you cooked that fellow's goose the other day.

DR DES-FONANDRÉS. What about the woman you sent to glory only three days ago?

DR TOMÉS [to THE UNEMPLOYED]. You have my opinion.

DR DES-FONANDRÉS [to THE UNEMPLOYED]. You know what I think.

DR TOMÉS. If you don't have your daughter bled without delay, you can take it she's done for. [Exit.]

DR DES-FONANDRÉS. If you do have her bled, she won't last a quarter of an hour. [Exit.]

THE UNEMPLOYED. Which am I to believe? What's to be done when you get two such different opinions? Gentlemen, I implore you, set my mind at rest, give me an unprejudiced opinion as to which treatment will save my daughter.

DR MACROTIN [drawling]. Sir! On these oc-cas-ions one must pro-ceed with cir-cum-spec-tion and do nothing, as one might say, in pre-cip-it-a-tion, for mis-takes thus commit-ted may well, as our Master Hippocrates observes-have dan-ger-ous cons-equences!

DR BAHYS [in a quick stammering voice]. Yes, one n.n.needs to be cccareful. Th.th.there's no ch.ch.child's play about such c.c.c.cases as th.th.this. And it it's no.no.not an easy m.m.m.matter to p.put th.things right if.if.if. you m.m.make a m.m.m.mistake. Expcrimentump.p.p.p.p.periculosum,y.you n.need to l.l.look before you l.l.l.leap and weigh th.things w.w.warily, consider the c.c.constitution of the p.p.patient, c.c.cause of the m.m.malady, and the nature of the c.c.c.cure.

THE UNEMPLOYED [aside]. One's as slow as a funeral, t'other c.c.can't s.s.spit it out fast enough!


rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Of course you are right. These people should just shut up and go away. No panel should be held.

Jack said...

As the man once said, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Worse yet, those who know not what they preach or how they come by their presumptions are most often of strident opinion regarding the truth of what they say. What is the unwary public to think? What are our government representatives to do? Wherein lies the truth?

Given the absence of demonstrative significant support for one opinion or another, I suggest, as when faced with any economic issue whose causes seem unknown, follow the money. In the absence of any significant evidence that I've not got a gun in my pocket it is likely that the victim will hand it all over to me. There may be hope of a later recovery, as the experts often suggest, but if I've got the money I'll be able to substantiate at a later time that I have come to it in a perfectly legal and reasonable manner. Is that a gun that your hiding, or are you just happy to see me?