Dismal’s Paradox

Here is the Daily Show’s John Hodgman explaining how the Dismal Science got its name:

Jon Stewart: Uh, the way you’ve explained the tax cuts doesn’t really seem fair.

John Hodgman: Fairness isn’t really the point.  They don’t call economics the dismal science because it’s fair. 

JS:  Well, I suppose not.

JH: No, no, they call it that after Sir Eustice Dismal.  The 18th century English economist who proposed making smokestacks out of children. 

JS: I uh, I actually never knew that.

JH: Yes, it was a very interesting proposal but ultimately flawed.  I mean if you make the smokestacks out of children who will you force to clean them?…

JH: Yes, it’s referred to as Dismal’s paradox.

The real story which, contrary to popular opinion has nothing to do with Malthus, can be found here.


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