Arnold Kling  

Snippets of Subversive Folk Songs

Emerson on Tipping A Result I Was Happy to Hear...

I have not had much time to pursue the folk song idea, but I have written a few snippets. [now slightly revised]

First, I am trying to do something to the tune of "Union Maid" that speaks to the moral virtue of the profit system. The rhyme scheme in "Union Maid" is difficult, and the ideas I have in mind are complex, so I have not gotten very far.

On graduation day, I heard my daughter say.
They said at school that profits aren't cool, but I go my own way...

Don't dare scorn me, I'm workin' for a profit, workin' for a profit, workin' for a profit. Don't dare scorn me I'm workin' for a profit, it's worthy as can be.

Next, I wanted to get at the fundamental problems of state worship and perfectionism. The tune I have in mind is "Big Rock Candy Mountain." Some snippets of lyrics:

The New State of Perfection

Oh, you really must believe all the things we will achieve,
if we can win election.
We'll remake society to a new reality
in our new state of perfection.

In our new state of perfection, religion is not taught.
Politicians are our idols, government is God.

In our new state of perfection, firms will do as told.
We know more than the market what should be bought and sold.

In our new state of perfection, you're totally insured.
No risk you take can harm you, all problems can be cured.

Comments and Sharing

CATEGORIES: Political Economy

COMMENTS (8 to date)
Gary Rogers writes:

I nominate "What did you Learn in School Today" and just ignore the sarcasm. When you listen to the words his dear little boy was learning exactly what he should have been learning.

liberty writes:

An excellent musical could be made, I like the second song a lot.

Brad Hutchings writes:

Great stuff. But I think you need to be thinking about a musical or a screenplay. The premise would be a serious libertarian folksinger duo whose ironic lyrics are completely misunderstood by the masses and whose songs become anthems for statists from both major parties (called the "Socialists" and the "Socialites" in the film) as they spend 2 years and $3 Billion running for President.

The duo hatches a plot to maximize their profits, where one singer endorses the Socialists and sings at their campaign events while the other endorses the Socialites and sings at their campaign events. Following a hotly contested election ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, the duo reconciles and reunites, symbolizing how the country does the same and moves forward after the election. Except that the duo netted $250 million from their staged spat.

I would definitely buy the soundtrack.

Andy Wood writes:

More Gilbert & Sullivan than folk, but you may enjoy this one.

shecky writes:

I guess it's all in the presentation.

Marcus writes:

Concerning 'profit'. I'd like to see it address it from a different aspect.

For example, a child sees how a well respected entrepreneur contributes to society and really helps people and wonders how he can contribute to society too. In the process learns how the price system signals what it is people want and need.

George writes:

This comment really belongs on the previous Folk Songs post, but what the hey....

Folk Songs with a political bent are propaganda. A libertarian folk song might propagandize, say, how each party is better off in a mutually-agreed-upon trade. In other words, it would propagandize something you want to do and that's good for you.

You might as well write a song about how you're determined to keep on breathing. Or that declares your commitment to eating every single day.

Propaganda's whole point is to get you to do something stupid, or at least that you aren't likely to do anyway.

Koen writes:

I think I'll stick to the Milton Friedman Choir for the moment. ;-)

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