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I Want to Be a Consumer

January 21, 2008
Given all the misguided talk about stimulus and the need to get funds into the hands of consumers, it is a good time to revive the wonderful poem by Patrick Barrington, "I Want to be a Consumer" originally published in Punch two year prior to the publication of Keynes's General Theory (issue April 25, 1934) and reprinted in Hazlitt's The Failure of the "New Economics", pp. 133-134 I Want to be a Consumer "And what do you mean to be?" The kind old Bishop said As he took the boy on his ample knee And patted his curly head. "We should all of us choose a calling To help Society's plan; Then what to you mean to be, my boy, When you grow to be a man?" "I want to be a Consumer," The bright-haired lad replied As he gazed into the Bishop's face In innocence open-eyed. "I've never had aims of a selfish sort, For that, as I know, is wrong. I want to be a Consumer, Sir, And help the world along." "I want to be a Consumer And work both night and day, For that is the thing that's needed most, I've heard Economists say, I won't just be a Producer, Like Bobby and James and John; I want to be a Consumer, Sir, And help the nation on." "But what do you want to be?" The Bishop said again, "For we all of us have to work," said he, "As must, I think, be plain. Are you thinking of studying medicine Or taking a Bar exam?" "Why, no!" the bright-haired lad replied As he helped himself to jam. "I want to be a Consumer And live in a useful way; For that is the thing that is needed most, I've heard Economists say. There are too many people working And too many things are made. I want to be a Consumer, Sir, And help to further trade." "I want to be a Consumer And do my duty well; For that is the thing that is needed most, I've heard Economists tell. I've made up my mind," the lad was heard, As he lit a cigar, to say; "I want to be a Consumer, Sir, And I want to begin today." I can hardly wait to get my $1600 to do my part as well.

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