Post Content

Funky Winkerbean, 10/14/13

In exchange for his miserable wordplay, Jim Kablichnik gets a ticket to Becky’s miserable event — a capsule illustration of Westview economics.

In the standard microeconomic model, transactions equilibrate supply and demand. But the classical supply curve occupies only the upper-right of four quadrants, the one where supply and demand both have positive value. An entire economy can be built in the lower-left quadrant, if a group of people can be found who will ignore their own satisfaction and seek instead to maximize one another’s misery. Sound like anybody we know?

Here’s how it works – Kablichnik creates misery de novo, just as a miner might bury valuable metal or a cobbler ruin shoes. In panel 2, Jim demands that Becky “get”, or accept, his miserable utterance — but Becky is prepared! Her ticket-currency* stores the misery accumulated during hours of student band practice, and she quickly agrees to an exchange that she rightly calls ‘even.’ Jim also accepts, no doubt musing how he’s going to stick the ticket to Les Moore, whose industrial-scale misery production puts him at the pinnacle/nadir of Westview’s upper/under class.

Trade dynamics need to be worked out. A misery-based economy like Westview could be an appealing trading partner if we can overcome two problems: First, the town offers nothing of value to exchange for the misery that utility-based economies would heap on it. Second, the liquidity of the Westview Misery Market is limited by the number of tears those poor souls can cry.

It’s possible we could create leverage through mockery. After all, multiple voices can ridicule a single underlying misfortune, thus securitizing misery at one remove and dodging the liquidity problem. The misery that comes from being mocked is added value. I see a market-making role for the Comics Curmudgeon here. What could possibly go wrong?

* Denominated in “Montonis”, where 1 Montoni = the aggregate misery generated by consuming a medium plain pizza at the named establishment (no take-outs or deliveries). The “Free Pizza” coupon is the basic unit; a “Battle of the Bands” ticket is worth 5 Montonis and a “Lisa’s Legacy Run” credential 10.

Mark Trail, 10/14/13

“I pick up a piece of recognizably modern technology for the first time in half a century and this happens! That’s it — I’m going back to the steam semaphore for good!

Dick Tracy, 10/14/13

“Your horns are — fake. Power Rays — fake. Eyes, teeth, hair, family, biography, memories — fake, fake, fake! Are you sensing a theme here, sweetheart? ‘Cause I haven’t got all day for this.”

“[Crap, how hard do I have to pull on this thing to get some smoke out of it? I swear if Morrie’s slipping those damn Parodis in with my Cubans again I’ll put the Havana punch to his other pinky.]”

“You were engineered out of some kid and goo from the bottom of Moon Maid’s wreck. You’ve been brainwashed and there’s a GPS in your abdomen. Crooks did it to steal my 1970’s magnetism technology, which you can pick up at The Sharper Image these days for about eighty-nine bucks.”

“[Dammit, I want to smoke this thing, not drink it. That stupid magnetic humidor Jameson got me at Sharper Image must be on the fritz again.]”

“They picked you because nobody cared enough to keep an eye on you or report you missing. Kidnappers took a shortcut. That’s what crooks do – you blame ’em?”

“[That warranty’s got to be in here someplace and it damn well better be a full year or I’ll ruin their sorry asses. Again.]”

“Somebody bring me a damn toothpick!”

Gasoline Alley, 10/14/13

I don’t know whether this speaks worse of Clovia or Slim. The dog’s not entirely blameless either.

— Uncle Lumpy