A Fable For Our Times


Once upon a time, in a land filled with greed and incompetence, there existed a small group of people whose job it was to make electricity for all of the country. For many years, these people reliably made this power at a low cost for the many inhabitants of the area. The homes and businesses who used this power always knew that whenever they called upon the system to provide them with their needs, the system was always there for them. Everyone in the country was happy and lights burned day and night as the nation grew stronger and prospered.

Now, as all stories must have a villain, this parable will be no different. However, as most tales tell of monsters and ogres and other supernatural bad guys being dispatched from the world by the White Knight or the honest and polite gnome or whoever, this yarn will spin a different cast of characters. You see, this is a tale of some very fortunate beings using their good fortune and the power it grants them in the process of taking all of the treasure from thoe that they so despise, the less fortunate. This is a tale of greed and lies and politics (but I repeat myself). There is no happy ending to this tale.

Now, these people had been going about the task of making the electricity and sending it to far off homes and factories for many, many years. As all who labor in dangerous professions, they were paid handsomely for their acts of daily courage. This compensation, however, caused great envy among those who were not employed by the same system. The acts of the kings and princes who managed the system, which were seldom evil but more often just foolish or thoughtless, were attributed to these lower level individuals, as well. When scarce resources were diverted by these members of royalty for the use of the masses in another area, it was usually the workers who were hated, only because they were visible and the royalty were not.

There came a time within this realm when the kings and princes, as wealthy as any humans had ever before been, decided that they wanted even more treasure for their vaults. As they slowly took away all that their subjects possessed through taxes and fees and over-pricing of poor quality goods, their minions suffered mightily. Jobs were destroyed in the name of "Progress & Profits". Entire regions were annihilated in the process of the accumulation of wealth for the fortuitous few. All forms of transportation and communication and entertainment and news and food distribution and even the very government itself was bought and traded among the few who now owned it all. The statistics which were used to inspect the health of the nation were modified by these masters in order that the citizens not become aware of the travesty being laid upon them by the few and to make it appear that all of the inhabitants were prospering and all else just a mirage.

Eventually, these lustful few found that they now owned or controlled nearly all of the nation. The inhabitants were following like sheep and the citizen's only anger was at the strawmen that the wealthy produced and pointed to as the cause of the citizens problems (most assuredly, the wealthy did not admit to being the cause but rather invented the evil of those who were from elsewhere or those who looked or sounded or acted differently). There was great unrest among the affluent as they felt as if their greed had not been, and possibly never could be, quenched. Was there anything or anybody that they did not yet own?

Sadly, the people who produced the electricity still had a small degree of freedom and autonomy to go about their jobs and their industry. This caused enormous consternation amongst the rich. Here was money going to exactly the wrong class of individuals! These people were actually still making a living wage and enjoying such outrageous benefits as health and dental insurance. These unnecessary costs had been erased at nearly all other professions, so why were these people being treated differently?

Now, even though a large portion of the profit from this system was happily given over to the government each year, the rich wanted more. If they could find a way to simply remove the cost of employees from the system's budget, even more of the income would appear to be profit. So began the beginning of the end to cheap and reliable power.

The wealthy began by pulling the strings of the toy lawyers that they had forced the masses to elect. These puppets of the few were instructed that the citizens would forever hold these political fools in awe if the laws were just slightly altered so that all means of electrical production and transportation and distribution and ownership was ceded to the wealthy few. This, the masters argued, would allow for the removal of all those unnecessary and petty ordinances that restricted the depletion of this last bastion of honest industry.

Soon, the masters demanded that the princes who managed the system go away and that they be replaced by the wealthy's hand picked toadies. Buffoons were found who had no idea what the task of producing electrical power entailed but only understood how to take orders from the rich and how to destroy the system while absorbing the maximum profits. Slowly, the ranks of those who knew the complex operations of the system were removed. Those who had worked longest were the first to go since they cost the most to maintain and made the most demands for fairness for all. The youngest were taught quickly that speaking out meant the loss of their employment and so were easily quieted.

These bootlickers who were placed in positions of importance began creating separate departments for each step of the production process. This, they knew from long experience, made the chore of selling off or just dumping the components easier. They created and dispersed thousands of official sounding but meaningless memos, scheduled many inane meetings of nonsensically named committees and invented entire new words and languages to obscure their intentions. These few found and retained the most profitable portions of the body and proceeded to kill off the rest.

Eventually, others of the wealthy few bought those sections which were no longer wanted. They paid little for much and again began the process of expunging as many of the employees as they could. Eventually, the entire ability of these offshoots of the main system to operate shriveled and died, but not before providing enormous returns for the few and massive suffering for the many. Even that which remained of the main body suffered hugely. Without the manpower and skills needed to insure the health of such a large and far-flung system, the flow of electricity was more and more often stopped by minor mishaps and major service failures. More and more often, the citizens of this realm found themselves freezing or sweating in the dark while power continued always to flow towards the homes and businesses of the wealthy. The infrastructure for the few was constantly maintained at the cost of ignoring the less fortunate.

Tragically, the citizens never knew of the failure of their political and economic systems. The media had long ago been purchased and honest reporting had become another oxymoron, in the same vein as "compassionate lawyer". These sheep found life so much simpler if they just believed all that they were told and hated only those who they were told to hate. So long as they had just enough to eat and the rest of their life wasn't too unbearable, they shuffled along, shaking their fists at and shouting their words of hatred toward the few who still spoke up for fairness.

Eventually, the poor and the displaced workers were treated as any other exchanged commodity such as cattle or sheep. Those who gave the most value were rewarded with the right to procreate, the others sterilized to end their undesired genetic strain. Cloning became the substitute for birth. All were happy and the eyes of the masses were vacant.

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Write me at:jcannon@anotherperspective.org

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Copyright 7/30/97