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Contentions

Down the (North Korean) Rabbit Hole

A couple of months ago I blogged about a news report that North Korea had bought some giant rabbits from a German breeder as seed stock, apparently in the hope of alleviating its dire food shortage.

Although the starvation of Koreans is anything but funny, here in a capsule was the entire story of Communist economics. Despite its professed humanitarian motives, the Marxist model was entirely mechanistic, blind to the role of human invention and incentive in creating wealth. Planners could simply draw blueprints of abundance and—abracadabra—their word would become flesh.

Stalin, for example, decided that it would be more efficient if some of the rivers of the Soviet Union reversed direction, so he tasked his engineers to turn them around. Mao calculated that China could industrialize overnight if each citizen made his own steel, so millions of backyard furnaces were created. And this year the minions of Kim Jong Il figured out that national starvation could be solved by means of larger rabbits, each of which could feed many more humans than ordinary examples of that species.

By Communist standards, the plan was good—easier than reversing rivers or smelting backyard steel. But alas, the timing was bad. Apparently, the rabbits arrived in North Korea just before the Dear Leader’s birthday, an occasion of jubilant feasting—at least by him. According to a new report, the German breeder of the giant bunnies has told reporters that the creatures disappeared before they could begin reproducing. Karl Szmolinksy, who had contracted to come to North Korea to help manage the rabbits’ propagation, has said that as far as he can discover they were requisitioned for the celebratory dinner table. “North Korea won’t be getting any more rabbits from me. They don’t even need to bother asking,” said the indignant man.

Considering the millions of human beings that perished in other Communist projects, the loss of a few rabbits is no cause for mourning—except that the North Korean people are still starving. Perhaps next, instead of larger rabbits, their Dear Leader et al. will try breeding smaller citizens.



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