TOM THE DANCING BUG: "Triumph of the Counterintuitive"



It’s funny enraging because it’s true.


I’ve been reading Sesame Street & the Reform of Children’s Television by Robert Morrow, which spends a fair amount of time on the social programs, and the history that led to them being adopted, that ultimately resulted not just in educational television but all kinds of programs that benefited people.

And I wonder what the hell has Hollingsworth Hound been smoking.



“Acid invites you through the door," as Denis liked to say—“PCP opens the door, shoves you through, slams it behind you, and locks it."


Sniff. Hollingsworth Hound loves me!

Pretty Much.

In all seriousness though, there is a strong underlying truth to this comic. My biggest complaint about Tom’s comics is that it oversimplifies and exaggerates ring-wing arguments. Sometimes he’s worse than other times. But today’s comic, in my view, is depressingly accurate of the fundamental conflict between the claims that the right makes about fixing poverty and the actual effect of the laissez faire/anti-social safety net policies they prescribe.

The right makes a lot of hand-wavy arguments about dependency and such, which are almost completely false, empirically speaking. Same for things like “trickle-down economics”: decades of these policies have pretty much proven that they increase poverty and inequality. The standard argument for free trade policies is that they increase efficiency overall, e.g. “a rising tide lifts all boats”. This is also empirically suspect.

But at the heart of the matter, the Republican party has the current problem of wanting policies that directly hurt the poor and disadvantaged. They are explaining this by blatantly lying. And for some reason a lot of people (who should know better) are letting this slip.

Maybe less taxes on the rich, and pro-business/anti-labor regulations will help everyone eventually. But in the short term, drastically cutting all social programs so the rich pay less taxes doesn’t actually help most people.


There are better arguments that Tom has yet to approach, things like how technology improvements and standard of living increases … but this has so many counter arguments I don’t even want to touch it now.

Eventually the population rises up and kills all the wealthy and privileged.

Just saying, historical precedent and all that…

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Knowing my recent luck I’ll somehow become wealthy the day before the uprising and get a ride to the guillotine.


“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” --Widely attributed to John Steinbeck (but likely paraphrased from one of a few sources)

You can say the same for universal healthcare, the dismantling of progressive taxation, and the rotting of our once strong social safety net.

Why do I need to keep paying for medicare? I’m going to be rich someday, and will be attended to by skilled private doctors without ever leaving my gilded mansion on the California coast.

When in actuality, close to 100% of everyone will need to pull from medicare before they die. And that percentage is rising because people are living longer.

It’s another instance of the Lake Wobegon effect “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”


That would be interesting if that’s what the right wing really was prescribing. In reality the right wing is all about more government regulation, but regulation that benefits them. Like most groups, the right wing does not care about the country, they care about themselves. If they were actually interested in laissez faire economics they would have nominated Ron Paul.


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