Funny dream last night …
I walk into a dark room. Above the poker table, six faces are lit by a hanging lamp. From left to right: Ms. Economic Crisis, Government, Consumer, Taxpayer, Banker, and a strange creature — farmer’s thighs, artist’s hands, torso of a business CEO and head of a union boss. Let’s call him Pressure Group.
Consumer and Government play like beginners, wasting chips like there’s no tomorrow. After a failed bluff, Consumer loses all his chips. He’s already borrowed from Banker three times to keep playing, and remortgaged his house. “That’s enough!” He gets up and leaves.
I look at Taxpayer. He plays carefully, but loses chips at every turn — because Government plays aggressively. And because Pressure Group, seated beside him, dips into Government’s chips and pesters him constantly, driving up the bidding, Taxpayer just can’t keep up.
Meanwhile, Ms. Economic Crisis scoops up other players’ squandered chips …
The most hated player is Banker. He bets big each turn, whatever his cards. He doesn’t care. He knows that his friend Government will bail him out if he loses everything. The next turn, he makes a risky bet … and is wiped out. Bah! He gets up, winks at Government, and heads off.
Suddenly, a cry interrupts the game. “Hands off my chips, parasite!” Government just realized that Pressure Group is repeatedly dipping into his pile. Government places his remaining chips in full view and swears that he will play with more “austerity” from now on.
Pressure Group does not take this decision kindly. Furiously he exits to protest in the streets. He raises a placard that reads: “I deserve more chips!”
Assailed from all sides, Taxpayer finally crumbles, a two of spades and a seven of clubs in his hand. He leaves the table grumbling about Government and Pressure Group: “You’re conspiring against me!”
Two players remain seated: Government and Ms. Economic Crisis.
Ms. Economic Crisis has a lot more chips than Government.
Government, in a desperate gamble, goes all in. He pushes all of his chips to the centre of the table. And prays.
Ms. Economic Crisis holds a full house in her hand.
The government — a pair of fives.
Will Ms. Economic Crisis fold?
At that moment, I wake up. I wonder who won …
David Descôteaux est chercheur associé à l’Institut économique de Montréal.