New Laissez-Faire

The New Laissez-Faire at Woody's National Motors

Today’s cartoon puts me in mind of a whimsical little French story that happened long, long ago – about 1680 actually.

Way back then, through some accidental twist of fate, the French government lost focus on trying to control everything.  I’m not sure why – could be they were all on a multi-year holiday, or campaigning for re-election or thinking about getting involved in another expensive foreign war helping the American colonies.  Hmmm … my time frame may be off a bit on that last one, but really, no matter the reason.

Because while they were off doing whatever, there was a lapse in government regulation of the economy.

Ha, ha – gotcha there, didn’t I.  Total fiction.

There is NEVER a lapse in government regulations, just enforcement.  That’s because enforcement requires work and follow-up, but creating regulations is just about writing a bunch of stuff that other people are supposed to do, and carefully phrasing it so it doesn’t apply to you.

Okay, so that part is real.

Anyhow, during this accidental freedom thing, something really strange happened.  The French economy took off, and I mean like Le Rocket Ship!

Suddenly there were plenty of jobs for all the peasants, they could all afford to eat cake, and bread too, mind you.  Real estate prices on their hovels were rising steadily, and many of them had extra prehistoric Euros to speculate wildly in Le Stock Market, which hit an all time high of 27 on the S&P 500 index.

So when the government bureaucrats got back from whatever they had been doing, they really liked this, saying French sounding things like “C’est Magnifique, “etc.  This is because more tax revenue was coming in that they could spend on running for election and getting involved in even more expensive foreign wars.

Things were just good all over.

And so a top bureaucrat, who I think was Secretary of State or Finance Minister or something, decided to hold a meeting with the businessmen.  His name was Jean-Baptiste Colbert (note he was really a Catholic, not a Southern Baptist, so don’t let that throw you).

Anyhow, Monsieur Jean-Baptiste, using his very best Federal Government opening line, met with the businessmen and said, “Bonjour, I’m from the government and I am here to help you – what can Le French government do to be of service to you and help promote your commerce … and get more taxes for campaigning and foreign wars, etc.”

Actually he didn’t say that last part, but he was thinking it.

And the spokesman for the businessmen, Monsieur Le Gendre, said simply “Nous laissez faire,” which literally translated means “You leave us alone,” or “Leave us be.”

A quick historical note here – centuries later the Beatles, who’s French really wasn’t so good I’m thinking, wrote a song about this called Let It Be, which was a really good song even though they totally screwed up the translation.

Anyhow, talk about a Mr. Poopypants — Monsieur Le Gendre had really killed the mood of the meeting.  So they all adjourned, wandered into the hotel lobby and started drinking copious amounts of wine.

You see, Monsieur Le Gendre and his fellow businessmen thought that by getting the government more involved in their businesses, with more regulations and red tape and taxes and surcharges and mandates and penalties, that this might kill off the economic boom they were all enjoying.

Which just goes to show you, there is absolutely no understanding French thinking, is there?

But then you probably already knew that.

Have a nice day – J. Daniel

P.S. The great, great, great, great, great grandson of Jean-Baptiste Colbert created a cable TV show that often comedically poked at bureaucracies, which just goes to show you this laissez-faire thing must be genetic (or is that generic).

P.P.S. Here’s a great article for you on the historical origins of the term laissez-faire –

P.P.P.S. I got part of the concept for this cartoon from a Facebook post showing a cartoon by Henry Payne – a terrific political cartoonist.  You might want to check out his site at  You won’t be disappointed.

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