Henry Plottre and The Bridge of Supreme Choice
A magical story of the Invisible Hand - Part I
August 1, 2007
Fred Foldvary, Ph.D.
Economist

When the Republican Party candidates for president learned that the Democratic Party candidates had met with Henry Plottre, four of them sought to also have a meeting. The candidates were Jollyami, Mycane, Bumknee, and Runpal. They expected they would benefit more than the Democrats, since unlike the Democrats, they as Republicans believed in the invisible hand.

But there was a problem. Henry Plottre told them that the Furies had invaded the Valley of Economics. The Furies were vicious idea spirits that would invade your body and take over your mind. The candidates would have to cross in tanks for protection.

"Tanks, or no tanks?" asked Henry.

"Tanks!" they all said.

"You're welcome!" Henry replied.

Because of the Furies, the invisible hand took refuge in an Ostrich ranch. There they would meet the Master of Private Enterprise, Ludwig von Mises. If he found them worthy, Mises would let them ride the invisible hand to the mountain upon which dwelled the Land Wizard.

"But I don't want to see the Land Wizard," said Jollyami. "I came here to beseech you to use your magic to eliminate the scourge of terror from the world."

"I already knew about terror, and if I was able to make it vanish, I already would have done so. Do you think I am an ignorant fool?" asked Henry.

"No, not at all," said Jollyami. "I was just expressing my passion about eliminating terror."

"Well then, do as I propose. Go and visit the Master. But first you will have to change your money. They use silver in the Valley rather than fiat money made of nothing."

They rode the tanks until they came to two bridges. One had the sign, "The Bridge of Private Enterprise" and the other had the sign, "The Bridge of Government." There was a larger sign above on which was inscribed, "The Bridge of Supreme Choice." They decided to traverse the Bridge of Private Enterprise, but when they came to it, there was a toll taker.

"Two silver pieces to cross," said the toll taker.

"How much is the toll on the government bridge?" asked Mycane.

"There is no toll on the government bridge. It is provided gratis as a public service."

"If it's free, then it is foolish to pay a toll," said Bumknee. He and Mycane and Jollyami approached the Bridge of Government, but not Runpal.

Runpal noticed there was a sign on the Bridge of Private Enterprise. It said, "inspected by the Infrastructure Insurance Company, and rated super-safe."

The tolltaker said, "If the bridge fell, the company would be liable, so it has insurance, and the insurance company inspects the bridge frequently to make sure it is super-safe."

"Is the Government Bridge inspected also?" asked Runpal.

"Yes, of course. The government inspectors found the bridge to be structurally deficient."

"So why don't they repair it?" asked Runpal.

"The government budget is limited. Many bridges are deficient, and they don't have enough money to repair them all."

Mycane, Jollyami, and Bumknee crossed the Government Bridge, and it trembled under the weight of the tanks, but thankfully, they crossed without any mishap.

They then came to a gate guarded by a Hyena. "You have to pay the age tax," explained the Hyena. "It is 10 pieces of silver minus your age divided by ten.

"That's not fair!" said Bumknee. "Why should I pay more tax just because I am younger?"

"You have the same tax in your country," said the Hyena. "It's called Social Security."

The rolled along, and then came to another gate, guarded by vultures.

"You have to pay the speed tax," explained the vulture. "It is the speed of your tank times ten."

"Not fair!" said Mycane. "Why penalize those who can drive faster?"

"You have the same tax in your country," said the vulture. "You tax business profits."

Finally, they came to a third gate, guarded by a giant mosquito. "This is the exit tax," it explained. "It is five pieces of silver each, since you have a lot of silver left."

"Outrageous!" said Jollyami. "A tax to exit the bridge area! We all have to exit! And why tax us just because we did not spend our silver?"

"You have the same tax in your country," said the giant mosquito. "It is the death tax. It is applied to those who exit life and did not spend all their money."

After paying the exit tax, the three caught up with Runpal's tank. They told him about the taxes. Runpal laughed and said since he used the Bridge of Private Enterprise, he did not have to pay any tax, and the toll was much less than the taxes they paid.

Finally they came to the house of the Master of Private Enterprise, Ludwig von Mises. "Only Runpal can be carried by the invisible hand," he told them. "You chose the Bridge of Government. I'm sorry, but the invisible hand will not carry you. I hope, however, that you learned from this experience." They said they did, but Mises had his doubts.

"You, Runpal, may ride the invisible hand to see the Land Wizard," said Mises. "But I think you will be wasting your time. The Land Wizard is a socialist."

"If we have to ride the invisible had to see him," said Runpal, "he must be a very special type of socialist, if he is one. Having come this far, I want to visit him.

"Very well," said Mises. And so Runpal was whisked away to visit the Land Wizard. Runpal is still at Xylitol Mountain speaking with the Land Wizard, so we will have to wait to see what transpired.

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Fred Foldvary, Ph.D.
Economist

FRED E. FOLDVARY, Ph.D., is an economist and has been writing weekly editorials for Progress.org since 1997. Foldvary's commentaries are well respected for their currency, sound logic, wit, and consistent devotion to human freedom. He received his B.A. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. He has taught economics at Virginia Tech, John F. Kennedy University, Santa Clara University, and currently teaches at San Jose State University.

Foldvary is the author of The Soul of LibertyPublic Goods and Private Communities, and Dictionary of Free Market Economics. He edited and contributed to Beyond Neoclassical Economics and, with Dan Klein, The Half-Life of Policy Rationales. Foldvary's areas of research include public finance, governance, ethical philosophy, and land economics.

Foldvary is notably known for going on record in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology in 1997 to predict the exact timing of the 2008 economic depression—eleven years before the event occurred. He was able to do so due to his extensive knowledge of the real-estate cycle.