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The Great Welfare Debate

POSTCARD FROM NEW YORK

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"Oil the machine. It seems to be broken," the voter said.

And the politician responded, "Indeed, the machine does seem to be broken, as you say. I believe that there is a cog in the wheel."

Again.

"Yes, the machine, it's broken. Oil the machine."

"There's a cog in the wheel. The machine is most definitely broken. I will oil the wheel."

The appropriate answer.

"Oil the machine. It seems, it seems..."

"It seems, it seems it's broken. Oil the machine. Oil the machine."

"Oil the machine. It seems, it seems. It seems, it seems it's broken."

"The wheel is broken. There's a cog in the wheel."

"Oil the machine. Oil the machine."

"There's a cog in the wheel. It's broken."

"There's a cog in the wheel? Well, it seems, it seems it's broken."

"There's a cog in the wheel. There's a cog in the wheel."

"What's a cog?"

"A cog, of course. Well, a cog in the wheel. Like a tooth, you know, on the outside of the wheel. A tooth which was once necessary for it to turn the next wheel of the machine. We once had such a thing as a cogwheel. Now they run much more smoothly, after we removed the cogs, less friction, that sort of thing, and you don't have to concern yourself with wayward cogs anymore, or fitting them to the proper size--oh, what effort that did take. Spare yourself now."

"Yes, then, well, if the cog was once integral to the functioning of the machine, then how is it now an inconvenience?"

"A cog is, when correctly situated, a tooth on the rim of a wheel, a gear tooth as the technical boys prefer to call it. But with the institution of smooth wheels--and here's the key reason why the wheel became broken--the cogs were all cut off. Just hacksawed and sanded over. And there they were, floating about the machine, like some half-witted pieces of steel, and then, then there they went getting caught up, in, about, behind, all around, and even, you know where..."

"So the cog got caught up in the machine. The cog is the reason why the machine is broken."

"To borrow lightly from the esteemed former Senator Webster, picture a cog as one that functions as a necessary but subordinate part of a larger process, organization as system. Then change the process, so that we no longer need the cogs, and there you go, all these unnecessary little metal bits clogging up the system, bungling effiency standards, slowing the gears."

"Yes, it does, it does seem that the cog, the cog is the reason, the reason the machine it seems, it seems that the cog is the reason the machine is broken."

"And thus we must oil the machine. Oil the machine and expedite the expulsion of cogs. With the evolution of the wheel, the cog is castaway. There is no choice in order to insure a brighter future but to oil the machine. Oil the machine and clear away the cogs. The cogs need to go. Oil the machine. Clear the cogs."

"A cog in the wheel. Well, hasn't there always been a cog in the wheel?"

"Yes, there, there has, but it seems, it seems as if the machine is now broken. A cog in the wheel? That's the Old Deal."

"A cog in the wheel. The machine seems broken. The machine seems broken because of the cog in the wheel."

"Oil the machine. There's a cog in the wheel. The wheel is broken."

"It's broken. Oil it. Oil it--it's broken."

"Cog. Machine. No cog. Easy, my boy, easy, we'll do away with those cogs in no time. With oil, it's easy. And boy, if you could just get a whiff of that oil. All barrelled up in the harbor, oh, ho, ho, that oil, why that oil's 'bout good 'nough to power my car."

"Oil the machine, for it seems, it seems--it seems, it seems it's broken."

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