The Dilbert Strip that wasn’t
Back in the 1990s, our local paper took a poll about whether to add the witheringly funny Dilbert or the far more predictable Pickles to their lineup of daily comics. I voted for Dilbert, but Pickles won in a landslide. I think they did eventually pick up Dilbert, but it didn’t matter because Dilbert was soon online anyway.
Creator Scott Adams has also written a few books. My stepson gave me The Way of the Weasel for Xmas many years ago, and it was also laugh-out-loud funny. Adams also posts a blog, with a disclaimer to the effect that he’s trying to stimulate discussion. Oftentimes though, it appears that Adams is letting the pointy-haired boss actually write the blog entries, and some of those are also very funny, though probably not in the way that Adams expects. In Fairness Test, he poses a question:
A retired businessman is worth one billion dollars. Thanks to his expensive lifestyle and hobbies, his money supports a number of people, such as his chauffeur, personal assistant, etc. Please answer these two questions:
1. How many jobs does a typical retired billionaire (with one billion in assets) support just to service his lifestyle? Give me your best guess.
2. How many jobs should a retired billionaire (with one billion in assets) create for you to feel he has done enough for society such that his taxes should not go up? Is ten jobs enough? Twenty?
… I heard an estimate of how many families a particular billionaire supports … If you figure an average family is 2.5 people, one billionaire is supporting 250 humans. … When I hear that one person is supporting 250 non-relatives, plus a number of relatives too, it feels as if that billionaire is doing more than his “fair” share.
I imagined a Dilbert strip where the pointy-haired boss is reading this same question, from a company memo, at the conference table. Alice sighs, Wally makes that O with his lips, but Dilbert immediately whips out his smartphone and starts tapping away. “I think I see a problem. At 250 persons each, we will need 1,259,688 retired billionaires to support the 314,922,031 people currently living in the US. We currently have less than five hundred billionaires so I volunteer for one of the open positions.”
Asok throws up his hand, “Oh, I volunteer, too!” but Alice glares at him, so he adds, “As a lowly intern, I would be happy being a half-billionaire.”
Dilbert is still punching numbers and adds, “One billion dollars divided by 250 persons equals $4,000,000 each.”
Wally says, “With that much cash behind him, why can’t my billionaire keep me up with the cost of living?”
Dilbert continues, “Collectively, 1.3 million retired billionaires will be worth 1,300 trillion dollars. Right now, gross GDP in the US is only 15 trillion dollars. Gross World Product is only 70 trillion dollars — so there isn’t nearly enough money in the world to pay enough billionaires to support the rest of us and still live like billionaires.”
Asok frowns, “We’re doomed.”