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Archive for May 10th, 2018

by Adam Ferenz

Political humor can be a dicey proposition. Make it too topical, and it falls apart as soon as it is off the air or printed. That’s the fate that befell Murphy Brown. Make it too general, and it won’t feel like it speaks any universal truths. However, poke at institutions and the ways they are run, and you are onto something.  While absolutely a British series, this has much to offer about the way power and politics connect and are distributed, around the globe, at fairly any time since the end of the Second World War. Creators Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn wanted to do something that had not been attempted on quite this scale.

In researching this piece, I came across this bit, from Wikipedia of all places-yes, I know, not something people tend to cite-and it explains some of the genius, and some of the problems, with the program:

“Adam Curtis, director of “The Trap” criticized the series as “ideological propaganda for a political movement”,[16] and claimed that Yes Minister is indicative of a larger movement of criticism of government and bureaucracy, centered upon Public Choice economics. Jay himself supported this:

The fallacy that public choice economics took on was the fallacy that government is working entirely for the benefit of the citizen; and this was reflected by showing that in any [episode] in the programme, in Yes Minister, we showed that almost everything that the government has to decide is a conflict between two lots of private interest – that of the politicians and that of the civil servants trying to advance their own careers and improve their own lives. And that’s why public choice economics, which explains why all this was going on, was at the root of almost every episode of Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.[17]” (more…)

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