Michael Barone

Or perhaps Therrien didn't understand that a lengthy recession could reduce the market demand for puppetry, as fewer people could afford tickets or make generous gifts.

I have long thought that one of the wonderful things about our affluent society is that more and more people could find jobs doing things they love.

In a hunter-gatherer society, men hunt and women gather, whether they like it or not. In an agricultural society like 18th century America, practically everybody has to make a living farming even if they hate it.

In industrial America a century ago, people had jobs as factory workers or, if they were skilled and lucky, file clerks. Liberals today ooze nostalgia about how half a century ago an unskilled guy just out of high school could get a steady job on an auto assembly line.

Well, I grew up in Detroit, and I know that people hated those jobs.

In the America of our time, a lot of people make livings as actors, musicians and, yes, as puppeteers. I think it's a safe assumption that they get more satisfaction and sense of accomplishment from their work than they would as file clerks or factory workers with significantly higher pay.

Joe Therrien bet $35,000 that he would be able to find work he loved, and I think well of him for it, even though he has at least for the moment lost his gamble.

What he probably doesn't realize is that jobs in fields like puppetry aren't generated by government but are the product of bounteous market capitalism, which enables people to buy luxury goods like puppet show tickets and subsidize puppet theaters through philanthropy.

Government is a poor and unreliable substitute, and a government that chokes private-sector growth inevitably hurts the puppetry business. Sorry, Joe.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM