TOM THE DANCING BUG: Cold, Thirsty and Hungry on a Desert Island

By Ruben Bolling

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Published 8:40 am Wed, Aug 1, 2012

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51 Responses to “TOM THE DANCING BUG: Cold, Thirsty and Hungry on a Desert Island”

  1. Sagodjur says:

    Somewhat related: If the wealthy investors and business owners are supposed to be job creators, then why don’t we blame them when they fire people and eliminate jobs? We always talk about how consumer spending and demand went down which caused Corporation X  to lay off thousands of workers, but when jobs are created it was either the President’s doing or the business leaders’ doing, depending on who wants the credit, but never the increase in consumer spending and demand.

    • joeposts says:

      why don’t we blame them when they fire people and eliminate jobs?

      While hoarding the cashola! Let it trickle down already!

    • Mordicai says:

       If unregulated capitalism is supposed to balance itself with rational self-interest, why do we bust unions when workers bind together to access better wages?

      • Vinnie Tesla says:

         Because unregulated capitalism allows owners to hire private security forces to do so. See? All you have to to is expand your definition of legitimate tactics a bit.

    • durfsmurf says:

      People blame businesses for layoffs and offshoring all the time.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You’ve got to accentuate the positive
      Eliminate the negative
      Latch on to the affirmative
      And hire the best PR people that money can buy to put a good spin on Mr. In Between.

  2. This is pretty much what’s wrong with the economy. Not much more than this. 

    • ZikZak says:

      Although it seems to trivialize the problem, the cartoon actually points to a very deep issue: our economy is organized by this metaphor of “the market”.  The cartoon is funny specifically because the idea of producing stuff strictly based on what other people will give you for it is ridiculous when examined on an individual level.  Markets make sense when they’re actual literal markets, but used as an organizing principle for everything we do, they produce absurdity.

      Real people in isolated environments tend to organize their economies according to principles of “mutual aid”.  Meaning they help each other without a demand for compensation.  There’s simply an understanding that you’re expected to help others in the same fashion, and if you don’t, the others may be less inclined to help you.  While it’s not as precise a system as capitalism (you can’t calculate goodwill down to 1/100ths of a penny, nor can you create securitized assets out of it), it is much more resilient.

    • Mordicai says:

       Calvinism versus Economics.

  3. CDD says:

    This is how Puerto Rico is going to end. The only difference is it would be control by the Drug Cartels or the Goverment and I dont know wich one it’s the worst!

  4. Boundegar says:

    This cartoon is simply brilliant.  Go Tom!  Or Ruben!

    As for the Job Creators, how dare you question your betters?

    • ldobe says:

      As for the Job Creators, how dare you question your betters?

      Seeing what happened in 2008, I’m pretty sure what you mean is bettors, not betters

  5. retepslluerb says:

    Sorry, but why exactly wouldn’t the hut fixer trade his work for fish in the panel after “Next day–”? 

    • Mordicai says:

      You mean like having record profits or record executive wages but not raising worker’s wages? It IS weird, now that you mention it!

    • durfsmurf says:

      Because then the cartoon metaphor wouldn’t work.
      For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a spoof on the comic produced by gold-standard advocate Irwin Schiff, a comic meant to show how inflation can damage an economy by using a fish-as-currency metaphor. It’s not a bad idea to make a spoof on the comic to show the damaging effects of what happens when money velocity disappears, which is what Bolling is doing here, but to try to fit this into such a short cartoon is pretty tricky and I don’t think the cartoon works that well.

    • SedanChair says:

      Because capitalists are surprisingly dumb and self-centered, and we shouldn’t depend on them to rescue civilization? Just a guess

      • Greggem says:

        If they are self-centered, they should trade when it is both of their self-interests to do so.

        Avoiding a profitable transaction is not selfish; it’s selfless.

        Also calling people names is rude.

        • SedanChair says:

          Also calling people names is rude.

          I’d just like to point out that this statement is the very heart of lameness. Oh, this guy’s stabbing me with a knife but I better not say “you asshole,” that would be terribly gauche and rude

          • Greggem says:

            To the extent that being a capitalist is analogous to stabbing a person with a knife, this is a good critique.

    • Because the hut fixer was busy shaving his face, assuming that there wouldn’t be any fish.  j/k.

      I think it’s a metaphor for a vicious cycle where the market shuts down because everyone thinks business is bad.

    • Conan Librarian says:

      He says why, ‘because nobody wants their huts fixed’ 

      • retepslluerb says:

        But that’s not true. Fish guy wants his hut fixed, he just lacked the means to have it done the day before, when he had a bad day fishing. That fish shortage was real, but the next day he could have had enough fish.

        • Conan Librarian says:

          Now you’re just assuming that, why assume when the characters are telling you everything you need to know? I can assume too, like lets assume the fish guy doesn’t live in a hut anymore, but made do with using the beach. Or maybe he used rock, who knows.  

  6. Phanatic says:

    So, wait, the guy who’s hungry is so dumb that he doesn’t know he can eat coconuts?   

    “Nobody is trading, I’ll lie down and take a nap”?  Huh?

    Needs a fourth guy, too: “I’m in charge of governmenting.  I produce nothing.  Give me some of your fish, your huts, and your coconuts, and  I’ll give you vouchers that you can exchange for free fish that nobody’s catching.” 

    • Mordicai says:

      “What kind of lion is Aslan?  Lions can’t talk!  & why didn’t he just use his claws to kill the Witch?  Huh?”

      Reader who is bad at allegory is bad at allegory.

    • MJacobP says:

      So does the idea that government has no value extend to private government.  Large corporations are vast private bureaucracies.  Are they bad as well or do we just get to pick and choose what’s good and bad based on ideology. 

      • Mordicai says:

         At least government is a large bureaucracy that pretends it wants to help people.  Corporations just straight up are like “oh, we have a moral responsibility to kill our mothers & eat babies if it increases our shareholder’s profits, & hey!  WE ARE THE SHAREHOLDERS!”

    • Mainly I think this comic refers to the small amount of people in the states controlling the vast wealth of the land based on what everyone else is doing. The fourth guy would be totally obsolete, unless he figures out that he can just grab the coconuts, eat the fish, and build a hut. Oh, wait, Occupy?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Oh, look. It’s that guy.

  7. Matthew says:

    The proponents of “trickle-down economics” seem to forget that we are a consumer-spending driven economy.  The more money a person has, the less of it they need to spend.  So, if we push all the wealth up to the richest people, less money will be spent.  Therefore, our economy will weaken.  The wisest solution is to tax the rich more.  That way, their best choice is to create more jobs, thereby reducing their overall profit, but also reducing their taxes.  If they don’t do so, at least their tax money will be going to serve the country’s needs.

  8. grock says:

    I get the whole thing about people owning the ocean, trees and beach.  But the rest don’t make sense at all

  9. GeorgeMokray says:

    During Upton Sinclair’s campaign for the Governorship of CA in 1934, he wrote a series of sketches about desert island economics, playing with a variety of different economic scenaria.  Some of them were quite funny.  You can read about them at I, Candidate for Governor:  And How I Got Licked by Upton Sinclair. 

    His End Poverty in California, or EPIC program is described here: Occupy Wall Street and others would be wise to take a look at it.

  10. JohnnyRojo says:

    My jaundiced observation is that no matter how often companies say this policy or that tax break is all about jobs, they will cut jobs (and wages) at the first opportunity. That’s why I’ve mostly worked for myself, and I can tell you it is a pleasure to fire a company because they are assholes to work with.

  11. Avram Grumer says:

    I like how the backgrounds gradually sync up. 

  12. If one of them was a women, the other two would work hard to impress her. Plus she could use the coconut shells as a bra.

  13. Eric Hunting says:

    In one of his recorded lectures (which, as a kid in Jersey, I used to listen to late at night on good old WFMU) the late Allen Watts had a great little story explaining how the Great Depression worked that went something like this; A carpenter is working on a new house one day when a stock broker runs up to him, waving his arms frantically  and yelling; “You there! Stop that! Stop what you’re doing! We can’t build anymore houses!” Surprised, the carpenter asks; “what do you mean we can’t build anymore houses? I’ve got wood here, nails, and tools. Why should I stop building?” “Because we’ve run out of inches!” the stock broker says. The carpenter looks at him incredulous. “Run out of inches? You can’t run out of inches!” The stock broker scowls and says; “You just don’t understand business!” 

  14. As always TTDB comics are great but this “dig” on the economic theory of austerity doesn’t address one issue…these guys on the island have not borrowed money they cannot ever repay back to start their business! It’s an analogy that doesn’t make sense…

  15. scav says:

    If fish == oil, the catch continues to diminish and fishing guy never gets his hut fixed.

  16. Tom says:

    This island does not have an efficient market. It needs a speculator. Someone who will gamble that the fisherman will indeed catch fish, the huts will blow away in the wind, and the people will be thirsty for coconut juice. This is *exactly* why the commodities markets were created.

    Sometimes the baker doesn’t need corn the very day that the train rolls into town from the farmers’ fields. They literally used to dump grain into Lake Michigan before there was a commodities exchange in Chicago for speculators to buy the excess and resell it later.

  17. DavidFairbanks says:

    Well, I’m convinced.  We need another round of stimulus spending, or maybe a TARP or two.