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The Baffling Economics of Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Tank Engine

Boss HoggOn the island of Sodor in the Irish Sea, sentient locomotives carry passengers and cargo everywhere. Alex Knapp of Forbes watches a lot of the children's television show Thomas & Friends and has been trying to understand Sodor's puzzling economy. He's not pleased:

There’s clearly a bit of cronyism on the Island of Sodor helping to line the pockets of Sir Topham Hatt. Although reference is frequently made to elected officials such as a Mayor, Sir Hatt seems to be in charge of virtually everything on the island. In addition to running his own railroad, he’s often in charge of projects – like building a Search and Rescue station in Misty Island Rescue - that should properly be the purview of government. Indeed, the Island of Sodor bears no small resemblance to Boss Hogg’s Hazzard County, with Hatt seeming to own most of the businesses around and able to get the government to back those industries. [...]

For the most part, the freight trains on Sodor only haul one car at a time – occasionally, they’ll haul two. Even more inexplicably  it’s not uncommon to see two engines being used to transport one freight car. This level of inefficiency is simply insane. The Island of Sodor isn’t that big. There’s just no reason why one engine can’t be used to haul multiple cars. The engine fleet of Sodor’s rails could easily be cut in half, at least, and its regular costs cut accordingly. Of course, this represents the economic danger in Sir Topham Hatt’s monopoly. Through Hatt’s cronyism, he’s clearly keeping trucking out of Sodor, making his rails the only place to turn for businesses that want to transport freight.

Link -via Jon Dube | Images: Clearwater Features, Warner Bros.

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Yes, usefulness is the greatest concern of engines on Sodor. That's why I don't allow my kids to watch Thomas & Friends. The engines have a servile, rather than transactional relationship with Sir Topham Hatt. They are unsuitable role models for free men and women.
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"Even more inexplicably it’s not uncommon to see two engines being used to transport one freight car. This level of inefficiency is simply insane. The Island of Sodor isn’t that big. There’s just no reason why one engine can’t be used to haul multiple cars."

That's easy; all the engines are very eager to be useful. Usefulness is a major concern on the island of Sodor.

If you have the version narrated by Ringo Starr Sir Toppam Hat is called the Fat Controller, so in Ringo's Sodor it's not all riches and glory for the boss. My wife can't stand Alec Baldwin, so it was Ringo or no Thomas for the children. :-)
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