Monday, September 01, 2014

Banks And Robbers: A Fairy Tale

Once there was a Banker who did well. "Wow, can you believe it? My bank is worth a billion dollars!" This was all the money in the land. For years he had been an honest and faithful steward of the people's money - this despite the fact he had not an honest heart. But reason kept him in check, knowing that a man with a reckless reputation would never be entrusted with the savings of a lifetime.

Much praise had been heaped upon the Banker, feted and honored by a grateful population - a population that equally congratulated itself on picking such a fine man for the job. Then, in the twinkling of an eye: revelation. Now that he had all the money, who could touch him? His heart, filled with a lifetime of seething revenge, vowed to show himself once and for all, never to hide in the shadows again. The Banker swore on his life: "You can't cheat an honest man."

Finally free to unleash his greed, he took the entire billion down to the casino and bet it all on one spin of the wheel - and won! This - thought everyone - was the greatest event ever to have happened in the land. Parties raged night and day on the newly formed wealth. "Only in our land can happen great things like this!" The laws of Nature had been defeated and outwitted at last: Mankind was to have its greed and eat too.

There was, however, a tiny minority of Malcontents who spoke out. These doomsdayers proclaimed that the very same gambling which "saved" them would also destroy them, insisting it must cease completely and immediately. Men in high places publicly scoffed at these words, providing reassurance (and cover) for a sheepish public. Even those who posed themselves as enemies of greed derided the Malcontents. "Who do they expect to win over with such arguments? These unrealistic radicals let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

Radicals like this won't ever get elected!

Ergo, the gambling now deemed "realistic" continued unabated for all intents and purposes.

But the math of the odds began to win out. First the billion won was lost ("Don't change course! We'll get the billion back if we have faith!" demanded the Optimists) and then another billion lost wiping out all the money in the land. Then a third billion lost putting them in hopeless debt and slavery. Money, though an illusion, had been the determiner between life and death in the land. Though no food was lost, many died from hunger. Though no houses were gone, many died from exposure. Though the same amount of work needed to be done, many died from its denial.

But they were a stubborn people, an insistent people, living in vain hope of recapturing the time of the initial profits. This (amazingly enough) allowed the Optimist party to remain in control even as devastation and ill will spread across the land. Voices once bribed cried out in anger at bribes lost - still willing to look the other way on misery if profits returned. The Banker still lived untouched, deemed too important to ever have harm come to him in the tenets of their most holy monetary religion. Who could stand before the beast?

"You are a monster, the lowest of the low! There's no living with you! The harshest punishments possible should be reserved for you and your ilk. You are a plague upon society and your wickedness jeopardizes the very foundations of civilization. Be ye trusted no more and never come in our midst again!"

The Banker laughed reading this as he made his way to his morning limousine ride. The words had been spoken by a jury to a bank robber who was trying to save his family who'd been thrown out into the street. The jury and the Banker both knew these words should have been directed towards the true villain who was the Banker - but were not! The jury felt they must show their moral outrage at somebody (not themselves) as the land disintegrated around them.

Posing politicians vowed to "restore the greatness lost in our great land!" Feeling their way of life threatened, those still on top of the hill locked arms in conviction. "All we are saying, is give greed a chance!" Protesters threw rocks at the tops of the hills but the rocks merely rolled back down on top of them. Hero-of-the-day voices proudly proclaimed "solutions" of how the land could yet still keep their greed and eat too. "If only someone would listen to me!" Curiously enough, the Malcontents were more hated and reviled than ever. As each day passed they were proven more and more true.

A suffering little boy asked his father: "Why is it everything is so bad now when it used to be so good?" "Our greedy ways caught up to us, son." The father had been blackballed as a whistleblower, proving the land was not as moral as it claimed. "But can't we just stop?" wondered the boy. "Yes, but that would leave everyone only with each other." The boy brightened up. "But that shouldn't be a problem if we're as good of people as we say we are!"

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