Museum and art galleries, golf courses and race tracks, the theater and the entire movie industry…the list of entertainment goes on and on, so the proverbial visitor from Mars might well be excused for wondering how we manage to do a little productive work now and again. Well, my friend Carstairs, a Keynesian economist who sometimes confuses myth with history to create mystery, has a ready explanation. It seems there was once a very original lady named Eve who, while chatting in Serpentine with a snake, did something so atrocious I cannot describe it in a family publication.
Then, egged on by the snake, she persuaded her weak-minded husband Adam to do the same. But the Proprietor of the property where they lived rent-free happened to be walking in their garden in the cool of the evening, and noticed they were both wearing breeches. Instantly he knew what had happened and threw them both out, shouting that henceforth Adam would have to earn a living by the sweat of his brow. He also placed a curse on Eve, from which her descendants suffer to this day.
To fulfill his share of the curse, Adam took to farming and developed an excellent brand of Sea Island cotton, which he persuaded Eve to pick, spin, weave and sew into abas and dish-dashes, since their breeches were very uncomfortable in that climate.
In fact, her output so far exceeded their needs that Adam sold the excess to their neighbors and thereby invented the theory of surplus value, whereby he was able to retire early and take it easy. Eve, for her part, in intervals between picking, spinning, weaving, sewing, cooking, washing up and keeping the houseclean, gave birth to the human race and managed to keep busy raising and educating it.
Eventually it became questionable whose brow was sweating more, so she invented the women’s liberation movement. It tool a while to catch on, but fortunately the Industrial Revolution came along and machines were made to do many of Eve’s chores, so that she, too, could sit back and catch her breath when she wasn’t creating more humans.
Meanwhile, the machines continued to pour out trade goods for sale to the neighbors until their governments were at their wits’ end (which is soon reached in big government) trying to cope with trade surpluses and deficits caused by the machines working too hard and the people too little.
Moreover, the couple were getting bored taking it easy, so they came up with an idea in the finest tradition of Keynesian economics: the entertainment industry, which turns out nothing of lasting value but keeps an enormous number of people busy either entertaining or being entertained.
Which is where we came in. But there’s a snag. With all that time on her hands, Eve continues to create more humans, so we shall shortly be running out of oxygen. If our visitor from Mars is as smart as they say, he’ll sell us a population reduction kit, and we can all get back to being entertained.