Four of the Democratic Party candidates for president of the United States traveled to London to visit the world’s most famous master of magic, Henry Plottre. When they wrote to him seeking his help in finding a solution to the war in Iraq, Henry was flattered, although he did not think he could help them.
Senators Clingon, Fedwards, Omama, and Bitem arrived at the studio where Henry was rehearsing for new play he was acting in. They gasped when they saw him.
“Sorry,” said Henry. “I was in my play attire.” He waved his magic wand and suddenly, he was snappily dressed in long chocolate-brown trousers and a turquoise-colored silk shirt, with a stylish handkerchief jutting out of his shirt pocket.
“Mr. Plottre,” said Senator Clingon, “We know that you want to use your magical powers for the good of humanity. One of us most likely will become president of the United States of America, and will have to confront this awful war. Could you please bring an end to the war in Iraq?”
“Call me Henry,” he replied. “Well, I would love to solve all the problems of the world, but you know, even magic has its limits. I can’t just wave my wand and make a war stop.”
“Of course it is not that simple,” said Omama. “Having lived in several places around the world, I appreciate the complexity of solving a social problem. But surely, you can do spells and make complex potions and utter chants and wave your wand to make the war stop.”
Senator Fedwards added, “I know, being myself a self-made man, that your magical power comes not just from wands and potions and special phrases, but from you inner self. The real magic is within you. Surely, you can invoke your inner powers to end the war in Iraq!”
“Well,” said Henry. “Indeed I appreciate your confidence in me. But I can’t be some guru to whom everybody comes to solve their problems. The world’s wishes cannot be my commands. I did not work so hard to cultivate my talents, only to become a slave to humanity.”
“But,” said Senator Clingon, “how can you be so selfish as to not end a terrible war?”
“Yeah, Plottre” said Bitem. “instead of playing with pixie dust, why don’t you do something real?”
“If you really want to end the war in Iraq,” said Henry, “You need to speak with the land wizard. He told me how to make land grow. He also explained to me that most wars are conflicts over land. Your war problem is really a land problem, so go talk to the land wizard. I’m sure he will help you, as he helped me.”
“And how can we find this land wizard?” asked Clingon.
“Go through the Valley of Economics, and then hike up Xylitol Mountain,” said Henry.
“The Valley of Economics?” Fedwards exclaimed. “Do we all have to get a PhD in economics?”
“Nothing that difficult,” said Henry. “The invisible hand will carry you through the valley. Then just hike up the mountain to the peak, where the land wizard dwells.”
“We don’t believe in the invisible hand,” said Omama.
“You believe in magic, but not in the invisible hand?” asked Henry.
“That’s right” said Senator Fedwards. “We believe in the visible hand out. I’ve never seen an invisible hand.”
“Neither have I,” said Bitem. “I think it’s a myth.”
“Maybe,” said Clingon, “there is an invisible hand in magic land, but not in the real world. When people need help, the guiding hand has to be visible. How else can it help?”
“Some things,” said Henry, “are real even if not visible and obvious.”
“If there is an invisible hand,” said Fedwards, “why can’t it stop the war in Iraq?”
“The invisible hand does not stop a visible fist,” said Henry. “It only carries us through the Valley of Economics. But we can apply land economics to the invisible hand to resolve conflicts. To function at its best and promote social peace, the invisible hand has to be well grounded.”
“This is really too much,” said Senator Clingon. “I just wanted a magical solution. I’m not going to waste my time with invisible economics or digging around in land.”
“Me too,” said Fedwards. “Market are good, but only if guided and corrected by the strong visible hand of government. That’s what we firmly believe.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t help you,” said Henry, “But as a souvenir of our visit, I would like to present gifts to you.” He gave each a box, gift-wrapped with twinkling stars.
“Inside each box is a fine cloth, hand-crafted by leprechauns in the enchanted forest. The cloth is so fine, it might look invisible, but it is a magical textile that will make you look spectacular at the next candidates’ debate.”
“Thank you so much!” said Clingon. “I’ve always wanted a magical dress!”
“Yes, thank you, even though you didn’t help us with Iraq,” said Bitem.
“I will wear this with pride,” said Omama.
“Maybe your magical powers will grow and you’ll be able to help later, after one of us gets elected” said Fedwards. “Meanwhile, I’ll be happy to tell everybody the cloth I’m wearing came from the famous Henry Plottre!”
After they left, Henry thought, maybe, just maybe, the invisible cloths he gave them would help them to get real about magic.
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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 Liberty, Public 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.