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.