Back in the 1950s Al Capp, giving his reasons for allowing Daisy Mae to marry Lil Abner, mentioned a rival comic strip featuring “an orphan who spoke like the Republican platform of 1928.” Well folks; Orphan Annie has been reincarnated, and not surprisingly, in the form of the entire Republican Party. The common denominator is the claim that American business needs fewer, not more, regulations and should be left to its own devices. “Small” is the adjective of choice in referring to business. This is either a euphemism or a lie, take your pick.
The word “regulations” is being used by Annie’s disciples in a tone that makes it sound like a profanity. Regulations, rules or laws, call them what you will, have always been with us, and not necessarily to our benefit. A strong argument can be made, with which I agree, against our legal position on marijuana. On the other hand I doubt that the most fanatical libertarian would call for eliminating traffic lights.
Back in Annie’s day a grossly unequal share of the wealth resulting from unbridled laissez faire didn’t shake voters’ faith in Herbert Hoover’s promise of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” A couple of years later, when even rich folks started jumping out of tall buildings, people realized that something was very wrong so they made rules to prevent a repeat performance.
Years later Annie made her first reincarnation in the form of a Hollywood actor and started convincing us that these rules were no longer necessary. Eventually it became evident that she was wrong again, except for folks like her Daddy Warbucks (a well chosen name) who haven’t been jumping out of buildings. In fact they’re doing quite nicely thank you.
Of course the financial community still has some regulations. Embezzlement is frowned on in courts of law and apprehended violators generally do jail time. But Daddy Warbucks and his friends have avoided the hoosegow and are now busily comparison shopping for their most practical items, members of Congress. Annie should be so proud!
A bit of trivia: Al Capp subsequently inserted Orphan Annie type characters in Lil Abner. Daddy Warbucks was “Uncle Sawbuck” and his assistant was “Franklin Finog,” spelled backwards Gonif, Yiddish for thief.