Finally, something we can agree with Ha Joon Chang upon


That the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy is indeed a great piece of science fiction comedy and satire.

As an economist, what delighted me especially were the representations of economic theories. The story about people paying large sums of money for Antarean parakeet glands, which taste revolting, only because they are “very rich idiots who want to impress other very rich idiots” is a reworking of the 19th-century American economist Thorstein Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption. The wildly profitable planet-building business of Magrathea forced into hibernation for 5 million years because its own success impoverished everyone else, thus destroying its own market, is a clever way to describe the “under-consumptionist theory” that was popular in the 19th century. This theory has actually become much more relevant since Adams wrote H2G2, with the rise in inequality to shocking levels in many societies.

Veblen and under-consumptionist theory we will agree are being made fun of, used, in the comedy. But the application to our world of today, the economics we should take note of, we think should be the Golgafrincham B Ark:

MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt leaves as legal tender, we have, of course all become immensely rich.

FORD: No really? Really?

CROWD MEMBERS: Yes, very good move…

MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: But, we have also run into a small inflation problem on account of the high level of leaf availability. Which means that I gather the current going rate has something like three major deciduous forests buying one ship’s peanut. So, um, in order to obviate this problem and effectively revalue the leaf, we are about to embark on an extensive defoliation campaign, and um, burn down all the forests. I think that’s a sensible move don’t you?

MARKETING GIRL: That makes economic sense.

We feel this has a certain relevance for Peoples' Quantitative Easing as proposed by Jeremy Corbyn and as designed by Richard Murphy. Let's print lots of money so that the government can buy us all nice things. Nothing could possibly go wrong, it makes economic sense, doesn't it?

As to who it was on the B Ark:

CAPTAIN: Oh precisely yes. So it was decided to build three ships, three Arks in space, anyway…where’s the soap? Ah! Thank you. Ah! So the idea was that into the first ship, the A Ship, would go all the brilliant leaders…

NUMBER ONE: The scientists…

CAPTAIN: Yes, the great artists, you know, all the achievers. And then, into the third ship, the C Ship, would go all the people who did the actual work; who made things and did things you see. And then in the B Ship -

NUMBER ONE: That’s us.

CAPTAIN: Yes. Would go everyone else, the middlemen you see. And so we were sent off first.

Yes, a certain relevance for a monetary and fiscal system devised by a retired accountant from Wandsworth. We're not absolutely certain quite why it's relevant but we're really pretty sure that it is.