Nov 29 2016

The Economic Lessons of Scrooge McDuck

If you’ve had a cultural experience like mine (I had 2 of every network broadcast including PBS and 3 Independents, and now watch not just constantly but exclusively Cartoons and ‘Tween Comedies) you’re probably familiar with Cracked magazine and think of it as a sort of poor man’s Mad without those Sergio Aragoné cartoons in the margins.

One thing both publications had in common was that much of the content was parodies of topical pop culture like movies and TV shows and while the focus was on lampooning their absurdity there was also a lurking lefty/anarchist sensibility in the subtext.

I have no idea what direction Mad is taking today (the failed sketch comedy show was even worse than Saturday Night and that’s a damn low bar) but Cracked has evolved into an online enterprise with commentary on a variety of topics that reminds me of Rolling Stone back when it was good.

Not that it doesn’t all relate to a geeky interest in entertainment, but in many cases the pieces are a lot more thoughtful than Looper’s and Cinema Blend’s ‘6 More Reasons To Hate The MCU’ clickbait.

The larger article this came from was written in 2012 and you may not agree with some of the other opinions (I’m talking to you Doug fans) but I find this section about Scrooge McDuck remarkably insightful about certain economic realities that elude the rattle shaking shamans of the Chicago School.

6 Creepy Things You Never Noticed About Famous Kids Cartoons
By Preston Xander, Cracked
November 28, 2012

Quick! What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “Scrooge McDuck”? It’s probably an image of a cartoon duck diving into a pool of gold coins. In the same way that Donald Duck is defined by untethered rage, Scrooge McDuck is nothing but a ball of greed. Getting, keeping and counting his money are his top three priorities, with Huey, Dewey and Louie running a distant fourth through sixth.

Now, the fact that Scrooge loves money isn’t in itself so terrible. But do you know how he got it?

Scrooge McDuck has an amulet that attracts wealth like a money magnet in the form of a magic dime he acquired as a boy (duckling?). The minute the dime is out of Scrooge’s possession, as in the episode “Dime Enough for Luck,” he starts losing money fast. And when someone succeeds in stealing the dime, as in “Duck to the Future,” that person becomes rich and powerful instead of Scrooge.

So it’s great for Scrooge, or whoever else has the dime, but sucks for anyone else trying to make their way in the world honestly — all are subject to the economic whims of McDuck’s all-powerful dime. For every miraculous trade he makes in the stock market, someone else is losing money. If you’ve poured your life savings into a startup business, you’d better hope that McDuck invests in you instead of your competitor, because whoever he invests in is going to succeed, even if they’re selling burgers that are 50 percent human hair. If McDuck shorts your car company’s stock, your shit is about to be subjected to a long string of crippling bankruptcies and layoffs.

And considering how rich Scrooge is, his impact on the world is staggering. Scrooge’s accountant, Fenton, actually tells us how much money Scrooge has in the episode “Liquid Assets.” It’s more than $947 trillion. That’s roughly 13 times the planet’s gross domestic product.

Even after Scrooge passes away, his nephews will just take control of his dime and continue its tyranny as the world’s ultimate puppet master, the entire cycle of human endeavor and aspiration nothing but a cruel charade until all but the McDuck family wind up as emaciated corpses in a pauper’s grave.

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