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If ever you suspected that economic humor is an oxymoron, read on. This anthology, offering over a hundred selections of economic humor in the form of essays, fables, cartoons, verses, parodies, and epigrams drawn from works ancient and modern, will disabuse you of that notion by way of laughter. The contributors, about evenly divided between economists and noneconomists, share a common urge to poke fun at economics and its practitioners. Their styles and methods, however, range from kind and gentle to mordant and misanthropic; this is not surprising given the diversity of their professions: diplomat, playwright, printer's devil, publisher, columnist, physician, inventor, minister, corporate president, radio star, New York Stock Exchange member, and philosopher, to name but a few.
Bringing economic humor into the light of day, Caroline Clotfelter gathers her collection of materials into recognizable categories: economists as others see them, the language and methods of economics, Econ 101, micro- and macroeconomics, and basic economic models and ideas. Aiding and abetting her include such luminaries as John Stuart Mill, George Bernard Shaw, Mad Magazine, Stephen Leacock, Emily Dickinson, Rube Goldberg, Pogo, and John Kenneth Galbraith. As no other, this book will challenge economists to enjoy jokes at their own expense; noneconomists may have even less difficulty finding something funny in this most dismal of sciences.
Caroline Postelle Clotfelter, former Professor of Economics, Mercer University, is now retired.