I guess it’s supposed to be a joke, because it begins, “A liberal and a conservative were sitting in a bar.” That’s the way a lot of jokes begin, so this must be one. It continues,

“Then Bill Gates walked in. ‘Hey, we’re rich!’ shouted the conservative. ‘The average person in this bar is now worth more than a billion!’ ‘That’s silly,’ replied the liberal. ‘Bill Gates raises the average, but that doesn’t make you or me any richer.’ ‘Hah!’ said the conservative, ‘I see you’re still practicing the discredited politics of class warfare.'”

What can I say? I just don’t get it. This isn’t a joke at all — every word of it is true.

I’m not really sure what former paid Enron advisory board member Paul Krugman thinks he’s accomplishing by starting his New York Times column with this putative joke today. I suppose it sets up a straw man he can demolish. And Krugman obviously thinks that if he himself brings up the subject of class warfare, he will somehow pre-empt his critics from accusing him of it. He does it in just about every column now.

But whatever Krugman’s purpose, it reveals with stunning clarity the way this man of the “little people” sees the world. As far as I’m concerned, it’s simply a fact that when a “big people” like Bill Gates enters any environment, he makes everyone around him wealthier in countless ways — through the productivity his products add to their working lives, the value he creates for their investment portfolios, and just the plain old inspiration of showing what superlative achievement looks like.

Bill Gates can come into my bar any time. I’m buying.

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