Consider the 1998 “Gnomes” episode — possibly surpassing Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” as the classic defense of capitalism — in which the children of South Park, Colo., get a lesson in how not to run an enterprise from mysterious little men who go about stealing undergarments from the unsuspecting and collecting them in a huge underground storehouse.
What’s the big idea? The gnomes explain:
“Phase One: Collect underpants.
“Phase Two: ?
“Phase Three: Profit.”
Lest you think there’s a step missing here, that’s the whole point. (“What about Phase Two?” asks one of the kids. “Well,” answers a gnome, “Phase Three is profits!”)
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