THE FREE BOOK


Copyright © 2018 by Dr. Dennis F. Paulaha.
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing or photocopy, without permission in writing from the publisher, except for short quotes in critical articles or reviews.
ISBN 978-0-9907082-3-0
First published 2018 by: Patron Books

PATRON BOOKS


For Deborah, my wife.

“It’s not dark yet
But it’s gettin’ there”
Bob Dylan
It’s Not Dark Yet

1. The Beginning


IT BEGAN NOT SO LONG AGO on a warm spring day in a land that would become history’s shortest empire.

“It” being the thing that changed everything.

Maybe not everything, but pretty much everything that mattered.

Spring is good, the people were thinking as they walked along the paths bordered by new flowers and thin shoots of yellow-green grass.

All of a sudden, someone pointed at the sky, and everyone looked up to see what was up. What was up was a cloud.
 

“It looks like a triangle,” someone said.

At first it looked small, because it was far away.

As it drifted over their heads, the people saw how large it was.

“That’s a big cloud,” someone said.
 

“It certainly is,” someone else said.
 

Then lines started shooting out of the cloud and people started screaming and running in all directions as the lines fell to the ground.

But the lines did not hit anyone.

So the people stopped running and screaming.

Then it happened.
 

The cloud talked.
 

“Do you see all those lines on the ground?” the cloud thundered.

“It would be pretty hard not to see them,” the people answered.
 

“Well, don’t touch them,” the cloud thundered. “Go home and think about what happened today. Then be back here tomorrow at exactly two o’clock in the afternoon. If you are late, you will be in big trouble.”

Someone started to ask the cloud what kind of big trouble they would be in.

“GO!!!” the cloud thundered.

The people ran home and jumped into their beds. But no one slept much that night.

The next morning, people looked out their windows to see if they could see the cloud. They did not. The sky was clear.

By ten o’clock in the morning, most people were outside talking with each other.

“Do you think it was a dream?”

“I don’t know.”
 

“Well, do you see any clouds?”
 

“No.”
 

The people talked and talked, hoping to convince themselves that maybe the cloud was not real. But they kept looking up at the sky.

By noon, almost everyone thought the cloud must have been a dream, even though no one could explain how everyone had the same dream at the same time.

By one-thirty, there was still no cloud.

“That’s it,” someone said. “I have better things to do than go to a meeting with a cloud that might not even be there.”

“Right,” someone else said. “There is no way I am going to waste my time talking with a cloud anyway.”

Some were afraid not to be there. They said they did not want to be in big trouble.

Others said they wanted to find out what the cloud had to say.

So while some walked back to the field where the cloud told them to be at exactly two o’clock, others went their own way. 

When two o’clock came, the people looked at each other and shook their heads.

“I guess we were foolish to come here today.”

“I guess so.”
 

By ten minutes after two, the people were getting restless.

“Looks like it was a dream,” someone said.

“That’s what it looks like,” someone else said.
 

“But what about all the lines?” someone said. “The lines are real.”
 

“That’s true,” someone said. “They kind of look like stalks of straw.”

“I wonder what they are?” someone said as he bent down to pick up one of the lines. 

“WHOA!” a loud, deep voice thundered. “I thought I told you not to touch those lines.” 

Everyone looked up.
 

“What do you think you’re doing?” the cloud said.

“You’re late,” someone said to the cloud. 

“What do you mean, I’m late?” the cloud said.
 

“It’s ten minutes after two,” someone said. “You told us to be here at exactly two o’clock, and it’s ten after.”

“I didn’t say I would be here at two o’clock. I told you to be here at two o’clock. It was a test. I wanted to see if you would touch the lines I told you not to touch.”

“Well, you weren’t here,” someone said. 

“Yes, I was.”
 

“No, you weren’t.”
 

“Yes, I was.”

“No, you weren’t.”  

"Okay,” the cloud said. “Let’s get down to business.”

The people were a little scared again.

“What business is that?” someone asked.

“Are you going to shoot something else at us?”


“No,” the cloud said.
 

“Well, what then?”
 

“If you would stop asking so many questions, I will tell you,” the cloud said.

“But you are not going to shoot something at us?”

“I already told you I wouldn’t,” the cloud said.

“Okay,” someone said.
 

“Alright,” the cloud said. “Here we go. Do you see all those lines on the ground?”

“We already told you we see them,” the people said, rolling their eyes. “Is this another test?”

“No,” the cloud said. “It is not a test. It is an opportunity.”

“What kind of opportunity?” someone asked.

“That is what I am trying to tell you,” the cloud said.

“Well, then, go ahead,” someone said. “We’re all ears.”
 

“Right,” someone else said.
 

“We can’t wait,” someone else said. 

“Look,” the cloud thundered. “If you won’t shut up, we can just forget the whole thing.” 

“You shouldn’t say, ‘shut up,’” someone said. “It’s not polite.”
 

“Right,” someone else said.
 

The cloud seemed to slump a bit.
 

“You’re right. I apologize,” the cloud said. 

“Thank you,” someone said. “So, what’s the deal?”

“It’s simple,” the cloud said. “The lines are magical lines. Everyone who was here on time can pick up the magical line that has his or her name on it. Take the line home and make it into a square. When your squares are finished, lay them on the ground and they will be filled with money you can save, spend, or trade with your friends. Each month, stacks of brand new, beautiful pieces of paper currency, one hundred bills high, will be placed on each square, until each square is filled. That’s it. That’s the deal. That’s the once-in-forever opportunity.”

2. Making Squares

THE PEOPLE LOOKED at the lines on the ground.

“That is a good deal,” someone said.

“It’s a great deal,” someone else said. “It is, without a doubt, a once-in-forever opportunity.”

“What about the people who weren’t here at two o’clock?” someone asked the cloud.

“Anyone who was not here on time does not get a line,” the cloud said. “I told them they would be sorry.”

“Actually, you said they would be in big trouble,” someone said. “It’s not quite the same.”

“It’s close enough,” the cloud said.
 

“What if they apologize?”
 

“Doesn’t matter,” the cloud said.
 

“That’s pretty tough,” someone said. “They didn’t know what they would be missing by not showing up.”

“That’s life,” the cloud said. “Life is about showing up.”

“What about the children?” someone asked.

“If you do what’s right, every child will receive his or her own magical line when he or she is born,” the cloud said.

“How do we know what’s right?” someone asked.

“That’s your job,” the cloud said as it drifted away.

“When will you be back?” someone shouted at the disappearing cloud.

“I won’t be back,” the cloud said. “It’s up to you now.”

“But what if we mess it up?” someone yelled. 

“Don’t!” the cloud thundered.
 

And the cloud was gone.

The people stared at the empty blue sky for a few minutes. Then they began walking around and picking up the magical lines.

It took only a few minutes for each person to find the magical line with his or her name on it.

When they were finished, the people looked around and saw there were no extra lines on the ground.

Without talking, the people walked home, carrying their magical lines.

But it was not easy to turn the magical lines into squares.

Sometimes the sides were not all equal.

Sometimes the corners were not all right angles.

Sometimes the corners were not sharp. 

But they kept trying.
 

Eventually, almost everyone was able to make a real square
 

But the squares were not all the same size, because the magical lines were not all the same length.

So when the squares were filled with stacks of money, some people got more than others.

As time went by, some who had large squares were very proud of themselves. They liked to tell everyone how much they had accomplished on their own, without any help.

Others who had large squares said they were lucky to have been given such long magical lines.

Some said it was not fair that all squares were not the same size.

Others said it was fine. They liked to point out that no one can say what is fair.

Although no one could say exactly what is fair, many people said they knew what is not fair. 

“It is not fair,” they said, “for some people to have so much and others to have so little, just because of the magical lines they were given.”

One day, a small group of people came up with a plan.

“Instead of arguing about what is fair, why don’t we have hard work increase the size of people’s squares?”

“That’s a great plan,” someone said.

“But how can we do it?” someone else asked. “Think of all the trouble we had making squares in the first place.”

“And don’t forget,” someone said, “the magical lines came from the cloud. What do you think the cloud might do if the size of the squares changes just because people work hard?”

“The cloud said it was up to us to do what is right. This sounds like the right thing to do.”

And that is what they did.

Nothing could change the fact that it was easier to end up with a larger square if you started with a longer magical line. But by having hard work increase the size of the squares, some who were given very short lines ended up with some of the largest squares.

3. The Bagman

THE PEOPLE felt pretty good collecting money in their squares that grew larger the harder they worked.

More than that, they liked to buy things with the money they received.

Such as cars.

The people loved cars; red ones, white ones, blue ones, and every other color imaginable.

But there was a problem: There were no roads.

After buying their cars and having them delivered, there were only a few things the people could do with them. They could sit in them, wash and wax them, and drive them back and forth in their yards.

A few people tried to build roads, but almost no one had enough money to build a paved road longer than a small house. The longest stretched for less than a mile. And it didn’t go anywhere.

Although the owner of the almost-mile-long road had fun driving back and forth on it, the thought of a road that went somewhere seemed much better.

One day, while the people were talking about how great it would be to have long roads to drive on so they could go to many different places, someone came up with another plan.

“If everyone chips in a little of their own money, we will have enough to build roads and bridges that go to all sorts of places; and we can all use them whenever we want.”

The people liked the plan so much they immediately picked someone to go door to door to collect a little money from each person so they could build the roads everyone said they would happily help pay for. The person chosen to collect the money carried a large bag to put the money in, because it was going to take a lot of money to build all the roads the people wanted.

Everyone was excited just thinking about the wonderful roads they would soon have.

But when they got together and looked in the bag, there was nothing there. The bag was empty.

“What’s this?” someone said. “Someone stole all our money.”

“Who could have done it?”
 

“The bagman. I bet it was the bagman.”

“It had to be the bagman. The bagman collected all our money. And now it’s gone.”

“Let’s get the bagman.”

When they found the bagman, the bagman said he did not take their money. “There was no money in the bag,” he said.

“What do you mean, there was no money in the bag? You went to every house to collect money. So where is it?”

“I did go to every house,” the bagman said. “But no one put any money in the bag.”

“What do you mean, no one put any money in the bag?”

“That’s right,” someone said. “Everyone said they would chip in a little so we could build roads all across the country. Now you’re telling us no one put any money in the bag? That doesn’t make sense.”

“Well,” the bagman said, “how much did each of you put in the bag when I came to your houses?”

The people looked at each other, then at the floor.

Finally, someone looked up and said, “I put one hundred dollars in the bag.”

“I put two hundred in,” someone else said.

“Look me in the eye and say that again,” the bagman said.

But before anyone could say anything, a bolt of lightning crashed into a tall tree, followed by a roar of thunder.

As the ground shook, someone said, “Okay.The truth is, when you came to my house, I did not put any money in the bag.”

“Why not?”

“Because whether or not I put any money in the bag, I would still be able to use the roads everyone else paid for. So there was no reason to waste any of my own money.”

“How about you?” the bagman asked someone else who admitted to not putting any money in the bag.

“The money I could have put in the bag wouldn’t make any difference. The roads would be built with or without it. So there was no reason to waste any of my own money.”

“Okay,” the bagman said. “Is there anyone here who wants to say he or she actually put money in the bag?”

No one said anything.

“Well,” someone finally said, “there go our roads. It was a good plan, but it won’t work. No one will put any money in the bag. Including me.”

The people shook their heads slowly and began to walk home.
 
4. The Tall Stranger

JUST THEN, a tall stranger with a tall hat and a beard appeared. He told them to stop.
 

He said if they wanted roads, they should create a government and have the government build the roads.

“What can government do that we can’t do ourselves?” someone said.

“That’s right,” someone else said. “We can do everything ourselves.”

“That’s true,” the tall stranger said. “The reason you need a government is to do things you want done but cannot do well enough by yourselves.”1

(1 Abraham Lincoln said the role of government is “to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they cannot, by individual effort, do at all, or so well, for themselves.” He was partly right and partly wrong, because people can do everything by themselves, just not always well enough.} 

“Like build roads that go places,” someone said.

“That’s one,” the bearded stranger said.

“How would the government get the money to build roads?” someone said.

“Right,” someone said. “We already tried. So we already know no one will put his or her own money in the bag.”

“Taxes,” the tall stranger said.


“Taxes? Right! Like the evil king in the Robin Hood story,” someone said.


“Yeah,” someone said. “I don’t want to pay any taxes. Taxes are terrible.”


The bearded stranger smiled. “How many of you would be happier if you had miles and miles of wonderful roads to use?”


Almost everyone raised a hand.


“How many of you would honestly be willing to chip in a little of your own money to build the roads?”


“I would if everyone else did,” someone said. “Me, too,” they all said together.

“But we already know no one will put his or her own money in the bag,” someone said. “And if I am the only one who does, I will be wasting my money.”


“That’s true,” the tall stranger said. “That’s why each of you will win if the government you create collects taxes from everyone and uses the money to do what you want done, but can’t do well enough yourselves. If you are telling the truth when you say you would like to chip in a little of your own money to build the roads you want, then taxes are the way to go.”

After thinking about it, almost everyone liked the idea, except for a small gang whose members said they wanted to spend their own money themselves.


They said they did not like the idea of government taxing people.


They said they did not like the idea of government at all.


They said they did not believe in the common good.

They said if the choice is between paying taxes and having roads, or not paying taxes and not having roads, they would choose no taxes and no roads.

The tall stranger said if they each gave some of their money to government, government could pool it all and use it to buy them all sorts of things they could not buy themselves. “Roads are just one. And the things government can buy for you that you cannot buy yourselves will not only make you happier, they will create businesses and jobs. Profits and wages will increase, and you will end up with more money than you had before you paid any taxes.”

“How can I have more money if government confiscates, under threat of death, some of what I have?” the gang members said.

“Think about it,” the tall stranger said. “If you use taxes to pool some of your money, everyone will have far more than he or she can possibly buy on his or her own. Even those who don’t like government will become richer. It’s what a business does when it invests money to make a profit."

The little gang was not convinced. The members of the gang said they wanted nothing to do with any plan that gives government the right to confiscate, on threat of imprisonment or death, any of their money.

“Count me out,” they said, over and over again. “How can I not be worse off after the government confiscates my money? Paying taxes is like throwing money out the window.”

“Or in a hole,” another gang member said. 

“Who told you that?” the tall stranger said. 

“Our favorite economist,” a gang member said. “It’s in the book. Taxes are nothing but confiscation under threat of death. That’s why governments have hangmen. It’s in the book.” 

"What's in the book?" someone asked.

"Great wisdom," one of the gang members said. "Just listen to what the great and wonderful Ludwig von Mises wrote in his great and wonderful 1949 book, Human Action."


“It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, guardees, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.”

"That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard," someone said.

“So he’s an idea guy,” someone else said. “What about the fact that paying taxes is one way to buy things?”

“What things?”
 

“Things we can’t buy ourselves.” 

“Like roads?”
 

“Right. Roads that can make everyone happier.”
 

“And richer!”
 

“Forget it,” the members of the gang said. “If the choice is between facts and the ideas of the great and wonderful Mises, we prefer ideas to facts. If the choice is between paying taxes and being richer or not paying taxes and being poorer, we choose poverty.”

After listening to the complaints from the little group with big ideas, the people voted to go ahead with the tax and buy plan.

Each gave some of his or her money to government by paying taxes. And government used the money to build roads that went to all sorts of places all across the country

And everyone was able to use the roads any time they wanted.

The roads led to the creation of new businesses and jobs. Profits and wages increased. Wealth increased. And just as the bearded stranger had promised, they ended up with more money than they started with. More money than they had before paying taxes.

“The government tax and buy plan is pretty good,” the people thought as they watched their squares grow larger. “We pay taxes and we get richer.”

The people were so happy with their roads that they decided to make a list of other things they could have their government buy for them with the tax and buy plan; things they could not buy themselves. Things that would make them even wealthier.

It was a long list. It was also a good list. A careful list.

The years passed.
 

And year after year, the tax and buy plan helped almost everyone become wealthier.
 

The people’s squares grew larger and larger, and the people were able to do more and buy more things that made them happy.

Fortunately, the people were smart enough to know they had to be careful. They knew if the tax and buy plan were used to buy foolish things, their squares would shrink instead of grow and they would have less money, not more.

So they made sure they followed a rule given to them by the bearded stranger: “The government should do what needs to be done, but which the people cannot do at all, or so well, themselves.” They called it The L Rule.

Someone pointed out that the bearded stranger made a mistake when he said there are things people and private businesses cannot do at all by themselves, because, as everyone knew, they could do everything by themselves. They could even build their own little roads. But it did not change the fact that there are things they could not do as well without pooling their money. So no one was surprised when the tax and buy plan, combined with The L Rule, increased the size of their squares, year after year.
 
5. Tax and Buy

THE GOVERNMENT used the people’s money to define and protect property rights, which turned out to be the foundation of their prosperous and growing production and exchange economy.

Business prospered and grew. Jobs were created. Wages, incomes, and profits increased. The people’s squares grew larger. Everyone ended up with more than they had before paying taxes. And the members of the count-me-out gang were furious.

They said the great and wonderful Mises and all his disciples were against taxes and government, even if the government tax-and-buy plan gave them higher after-tax incomes, profits, and wealth.

The people thought the gang members didn’t understand. The people could not believe anyone would prefer to be a stupid follower of dumb ideas than to have government increase their freedom and wealth.

The people were wrong. The members of the count-me-out gang understood exactly what they were doing. They loved the ideas they had read about. They loved the ideas more than they loved their own children.

Which is why the members of the count-me-out gang, even though they said they liked the idea of property rights, liked to chant, “Give me poverty, or give me death.”

The government used some of the people’s money to buy a national defense to protect individuals and businesses. And although the members of the count-me-out gang said they liked the thought of a strong national defense, they continued to chant, “Give me poverty, or give me death.”

The government used some of the people’s money to provide courts that protected the rights and profits of individuals and businesses and to bring lawbreakers to justice.

It used some to make laws to protect the rights of individuals and to allow businesses to profit from the stories and songs people wrote.

It used some to provide regulations to manage or prevent excessive speculation and gambling in financial markets to avoid or limit the massive losses that create recessions and depressions, and to protect people and businesses from fraudulent practices so businesses could expand.

It used some to provide regulations to protect the natural environment no one owned, including fish in lakes and streams, so people could be happy and businesses could earn great profits.

It used some to buy sidewalks so people could safely walk to many places and easily go to businesses and spend money.

It used some to buy water systems so people and businesses would have safe water to drink and inexpensive water to use to produce things and earn greater profits.

It used some to buy airports for personal and business travel and to increase business profits.

It used some to buy city parks, county parks, and national parks for everyone to enjoy and to increase business profits.

It used some to buy public schools and public universities so everyone could be educated and businesses could earn greater profits by having customers with more money to spend and by having the opportunity to employ educated workers, which reduced their costs of production.

It used some to buy sewer systems to protect the land, the water, and the people, and to increase business profits by reducing the cost of production.

It used some to provide laws to protect new inventions so great things could be produced and businesses could earn large profits.

It used some to provide laws to protect buyers and sellers from bullies so everyone could have an opportunity to make and sell things, and businesses could earn great profits.

It used some to pay for agencies that were responsible for ensuring food and medicines were safe, so food and drug companies could become large, and businesses could earn great profits.

It used some to create laws to protect the quality of the environment and natural resources so the people could have safe air to breath and businesses would have lower costs of production and their customers would have more money to spend.

It used some to pay for police departments to protect people and businesses.

It used some to pay for fire departments to protect the property of individuals and businesses.

It used some to provide benefits to those who lost their jobs, not only to help those who might need help, but to protect businesses, business profits, and the economy from reductions in consumer spending, because consumer spending is the driving force behind profits and job creation in a free production and exchange economy.

It used some to provide benefits to those who did not have jobs, not only to help those who might need help, but to put money into the economy to increase business profits and stabilize the economy, because consumer spending is the driving force behind profits and job creation in a free production and exchange economy.

Every time the people’s government wisely pooled some of the people’s money to buy things people and businesses could not buy themselves, good things happened.

Business prospered and grew. Jobs were created. Wages, incomes, and profits increased.

And although everyone ended up with more than they had before paying taxes, the members of the count-me-out gang, who were now referred to as the deadbeats, continued to chant, “Give me poverty, or give me death.”

The larger the people’s squares became, and the more money people and businesses had after paying taxes, the madder the deadbeats became.

They were furious that the tax and buy plan was increasing people’s wealth and freedom.

They insisted, again and again, that people can spend their own money better than government can.

They liked to repeat, over and over again, that no good could ever come from government. They continued to say, “It is better to be a poor follower of big ideas than to have government create freedom and wealth.”

They continued to chant, louder and louder, “Give me poverty, or give me death.”

They said anyone who did not want to pay taxes should not be forced to do so. They said, over and over again, paying taxes was like throwing money down a hole.

Even though it was pointed out that every single penny government spent to buy things for people and businesses went to people and businesses, that none of it was thrown down a hole, the deadbeats kept repeating, over and over again, that the best thing government can do is get out of the way.

And so, while everyone became wealthier and wealthier because of hard work supported by the tax-and-buy plan that gave everyone the opportunity to earn the greatest possible incomes and profits and to accumulate great wealth, the deadbeats complained louder and louder that government cannot create wealth, even though the facts proved otherwise.

But it wasn’t about facts. Or knowledge. It was about wanting to stop government from increasing people’s wealth and freedom.

That was the real reason the deadbeats continued to chant, “Give me poverty, or give me death.”

Even though the deadbeats did not pay taxes, they could not be stopped from using the things bought by those who did.

And the wealthier the deadbeats became by using all the things bought for them by those who did pay taxes, the louder they complained about the evil tax-and-buy plan, about how they can spend their own money better than government can, and about how government cannot create wealth.

One day, when someone pointed out that without government, there would be virtually no business and no wealth, one of the big-idea deadbeats said, “The real reason we are against paying taxes is because the cloud told us not to. The cloud said it is wrong to have a government tax-and-buy plan. The cloud said government is evil.”

“So we don’t have to,” another gang member added.

“When did you talk with the cloud?” someone asked.

The deadbeats looked at each other. “Yesterday,” one said.
 

“Yesterday?”
 

“That’s it. Yesterday,” a gang member said. 

“Where?”

“At my house,” a gang member said. 

“Right,” another gang member said. 

“At your house? Who was there?”

“We were all there,” the deadbeats said in unison.

“And the cloud,” one gang member added.

“But the cloud told us it would not be back. The cloud said it was up to us to do what is right. Why would the cloud talk to you?”

“Because!” the deadbeats said in unison.

“Because?” someone said. 

“Can you prove you talked with the cloud?”

The deadbeats huddled together. After a while, one of the gang members said, “I have this note. See? It says, Government tax-and-buy plans are evil, because government is evil.”

“You wrote that note yourself,” someone said. “I recognize your handwriting.”

“No, I didn’t”
 

“Yes, you did.”
 

“No, I didn’t”
 

“Yes, you did.”
 

“Okay,” the spokesperson for the deadbeats said. “I wrote it. But the cloud told me what to write. So that makes it real. It is what the cloud meant to say.”

No one believed the deadbeats had talked with the cloud, but they agreed the members of the gang should be allowed to say they did, because one of the things the people decided to have their government provide to everyone was the right to free speech.

The people decided that even if the deadbeats did not want government to increase wealth and freedom, they did; and they would do what they knew was right.

The people knew it was right to have government protect individual freedom and individual rights.

And for as long as the people did what they knew was right, each and every child received a magical line when he or she was born.

As it was in the beginning, however, the magical lines were not all the same length.

But because the people worked hard and did what was right, the people’s squares grew larger and larger.

The people paid taxes. Government used the taxes to buy things for the people the people could not buy for themselves. And the income of each person was higher than it was before paying taxes.

It was truly the greatest and wealthiest empire in all the world.

But it did not last forever.

Not even for very long.
 
6. The Beginning of the End

THE PEOPLE were so happy with what they had done they decided to write their plans down so they could last far into the future.

First, they wrote a Declaration that said all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.2

Then, after countless discussions, they wrote a List of Laws to help protect the nation and promote the general welfare of all the people far into the future.3

(2 “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence, 1776.
3 Preamble to the Constitution of the United States:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”)

Almost everyone liked the Declaration and the List of Laws. 

Someone said the List of Laws meant, “People have the right to live life as they please as long as they don't hurt anyone else in the process.”4

(4 In 1994, 30 years after his presidential campaign, Barry Goldwater wrote: "The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don't hurt anyone else in the process.”) 

Almost everyone liked that idea too. Luckily, most were smart enough to know that the only way for people to “have the right to live life as they please, as long as they don't hurt anyone else in the process,” is if that right is protected by government.

“It is one of the most important things government can do for us that we cannot do well enough for ourselves,” they said.

They were also smart enough to know that the more money you had, the more things you could do while living life the way you wanted.

And for the first time ever, in all of history, there was a nation of laws and a government of, by, and for the people.

Meanwhile, the deadbeats, although they said they liked the thought of everyone living life the way they wanted, spent a lot of time and money they got from somewhere trying to force everyone to live life the way they thought it should be lived.

The deadbeats also said it should be okay to hurt others as long as you do so while you are doing things you think are important, or things you like, or if you do not like someone else.

Eventually, because they could not convince others to accept their anti-wealth, anti-freedom ideas, the deadbeats started a political party to elect people who would pass laws and use government to force everyone to live life the way the big-idea guys wanted it to be lived.

They called it the Dinner Party.
 

Their slogan was, “Lets EAT.”
 

The slogan, which they said was based on the wisdom of their favorite big-idea economist and prophet, stood for Let’s Eliminate All Taxes

The Dinner Party promised to prophetize everything, which they said the idea guys said meant turning everything government was doing over to private corporations that would support the Dinner Party with large sums of money. They said the idea guys said it was the logical extension of another favorite chant: All government bad, no government good.

The Dinner Party ran many ads making many promises to voters, telling them what a good idea it would be to eliminate all taxes.

Although no one could figure out where The Dinner Party was getting all the money it used to run all the ads, a Dinner Party politician explained the idea: 

“Replace the evil government tax-and buy plan with a troll system, and no one will ever again have to pay taxes. Instead, everyone will pay trolls for whatever they want. It will be, without a doubt, complete and total freedom. Everyone will love it. The troll system is based on the Billy Goat story. In the children’s story, a troll demands money from the Billy Goat family to cross a bridge. In our system, you will pay trolls to cross the bridges and use the roads you already bought. Then the troll idea will be expanded to everything else government is doing with its viscous tax-and-buy policies.”

The little gang whooped and hollered.

”We will prophetize all the schools and rewrite history so our schools can teach only what our idea guys say should be taught. We will ensure that all elected officials, people, and businesses follow our idea guys instead of the Declaration and the List of Laws. It will be wonderful. Our idea guys are much wiser than the old guys who wrote the Declaration and the List of Laws. Our idea guys know what the original writers meant to say but were too stupid to write. Our idea guys will write a new Declaration and a new List of Laws based on what they know the old guys meant to write but were not smart enough to do. As soon as the prophetization of government is complete, we will let corporations pay for their legislators directly. It will save a lot of time and money. Corporations will not have to spend their hard-earned job-creating money on political campaigns and advertising. Instead, they can buy their own legislators directly. It will be beautiful.”

The little gang whooped and hollered even louder.

”Instead of candidates waging expensive campaigns trying to get people to vote for them, each candidate will go out and find sponsors willing to pay for their services. Whoever gets the greatest amount of money promised gets to be the chosen Senator, or Congressman, or President. Saves time. Saves money. Makes everything clear and simple. And because our Great Court, the Supremes, already ruled that money is speech and corporations have the same rights as individuals, it is already legal. Money is speech. Speech is votes. Therefore, whoever can show he or she has the most money wins. They don’t even have to spend it; they just have to prove they have it.”

The little gang whooped and hollered louder yet.

For many years, most people laughed at the Dinner Party and the Let’s Eliminate All Taxes idea.

Some pointed out that at the end of the Billy Goat story, the father goat saved his family by knocking the troll off the bridge. The response from the Dinner Party was that such descriptions of the actions of the father goat were proof it is necessary to rewrite the books, proof it is necessary to have restrictions on what is taught, proof that anyone who does not accept the Dinner Party version of the troll story should not be allowed to vote or even remain in the country.

As the years passed, fewer and fewer people remembered the reason they were free and wealthy was because of government and the tax and buy plan.

As a result, the Dinner Party eventually got some of its candidates elected.

As soon as the Dinner Party candidates took office, they did everything they could to make government and politics as despicable as possible, the plan being that decent people would decide not to vote, because decent people would not want to be part of something so ugly, mean, and disgusting.

The Dinner Party continued to round up voters who could be convinced to fight to the death to support the idea that there are things more important than freedom, money, and wealth; things such as telling others how to live, how to think, and how to worship. They didn’t need too many, because their despicable talk and actions succeeded in keeping large numbers of decent people from voting.

For a while, some people called the Dinner Party the Soap Opera Party (the SOPs), because of its members’ insatiable interest in watching and controlling the lives of others (even if those lives were fictional), coupled with a lack of concern for their own financial well being.

Others simply dismissed the Dinner Party, believing voters were too smart to vote for candidates who promised nothing but destruction.

With each election, however, two things became perfectly clear. Money trumps truth and facts (and the Dinner Party had more and more money to spend). Dinner Party voters were dumber than anyone could have imagined.

Some said they should find out where all the money the Dinner Party was spending was coming from. The Dinner Party told them it was none of their business.

Eventually, Dinner Party candidates won enough elections to put their ideas into action.

They began by messing around with taxes; first cutting taxes paid by the very rich, and then, because of the deficit the tax cuts created, eliminating government programs.

It was a simple plan: Cut taxes to help the very rich and to create a deficit. Then, because of the deficit, coupled with the dogma of fiscal responsibility, claim government has to be reduced.

Eventually, the Let’s EAT dogma became law. 

“Prophetization!”
 

“Troll roads.”
 

“Troll schools.”

“Troll everything!”

“If someone is robbing your store, call a troll.”

“If your house is burning, call a troll.”

“If someone steals your patents or copyrights, call a troll.”

“Power to the prophets!!!”

At first, many people thought they were richer, partly because they were not giving any money to government for the tax-and-buy plan, and partly because the Dinner Party told them the money the trolls took was money they were finally getting to spend the way they wanted to spend it.

For a while, the people told themselves they didn’t care about the things government had bought for them that they no longer had, such as being able to trust what was in a can of soup in a grocery store, or having water from the tap they knew was safe to drink, or having property rights.

Then it turned bad. Very bad.
 
7. The Real Plan

IT TURNED OUT, the real plan was not about small government at all.

The real plan had a bigger goal. Destroy the middle class. Then those below. Then those at the top.

Rounding up simpleminded people who liked the idea of cutting taxes in order to create deficits in order to force cuts in government was just the cover.

The small-government doctrine was a con from the beginning; an easy way to attract voters who hated the middle class and who did not know (and did not want to know) anything more than what it took to babble and chant, “Big government bad. Small government good.”

Step one was to destroy the middle class by getting some lower middle-class people, some middle-class people, and some very rich people to come together to vote for Dinner Party candidates who promised to destroy the middle class by destroying education, facts, knowledge, and the safety, security, freedom, and financial well being of each individual.

It was the most difficult step, because the middle class was large, financially secure, and educated. They were the people who were not so easy to fool.

Which is why the plan began by recruiting the support of those who hated the middle class, those in the middle class who could be fooled all the time, and the very rich who could be fooled some of the time. It was a rounding up of people willing to vote against their own financial interests and their own freedom because of fear, because they were told they are victims of middle-class intellectuals, and because they were always looking for simple solutions to complicated problems. It was a collection of those who can be fooled all the time and those who can be fooled some of the time.

And it worked because the idea guys knew it was not necessary to fool all the people all the time.

The second step was to crush the people who can be fooled all the time; the ones the Dinner Party had conned into supporting policies that would destroy the middle class. The people who can be fooled all the time had a lot of guns, partly, they said, for self defense, partly, they said, to protect themselves from a takeover by a tyrannical government. So the Dinner Party promised to support and work for the deregulation of all guns and the unrestricted ownership of all guns as a way to get the people who can be fooled all the time, and who loved their guns more than money and more than their own children, to vote for Dinner Party candidates. The idea guys weren’t worried about the guns, because when the time came, they would simply take all the guns away. Those who would refuse to hand over their guns or who were dumb enough to take their guns into the streets to confront the Dinner Party’s tanks would simply be killed as traitors.

The third step was to wipe out the very rich, who, along with the people who can be fooled all of the time, had been fooled into helping destroy the middle class and crush the poor, thinking they would come out on top.

Step one was easier than expected. It was child’s play to convince people who can be fooled all the time into believing the gun con and the freedom con and to believe they are victims of middle class intellectuals. It was also child’s play to convince some of the very rich, the people who can be fooled some of the time, into believing in the short sighted and absurd idea that they can make big profits without government and customers. It was called the Freedom and Profits plan. Or, as they liked to say in private, F&P for short, but not for long.

Destroying education was at the top of the plan, because public education, from elementary school through college, had created a population that believed in facts, knowledge, and reason, which was the Achilles heel of the Dinner Party.

Destroying individual rights was second. The nation had grown wealthy as a democracy. Technically, it had been a republic, which meant there were supposed to be some individual rights that could not be voted on. So the Dinner Party had its Supremes hand down judgements that, piece by piece, over the years, took away all individual rights, other than the right to buy and carry any and all guns, and the rights of cult churches to use government to impose their ideas on all other religions on the grounds that they are offended by anyone who does not share and follow their beliefs. (Each decision by the Great Court added support to the long-standing claim that possession is nine tenths of the law.)

Third was to overturn all government policies and programs that increased and protected the education, security, incomes, profits, wealth, and power of the middle class. The programs helped not only middle class people, they added to the profits of businesses that sold goods and services to middle class people, and to the profits of businesses that sold goods and services to the very rich, because the very rich benefited from the increased spending power of consumers, as well as from the reductions in the costs of production that came from a better economic infrastructure, including public education that gave them better educated and more productive workers. And because such programs led to massive increases in incomes and profits and government tax revenue, the programs made it easier for government to add even more to the incomes, profits, wealth, safety, and security of the middle class, which is why they were a special target for the Dinner Party.

Year after year, the Dinner Party cut away, chunk by chunk, anything that helped or supported the middle class, then the freedumb people (the spelling the idea guys used when they wrote about those who were dumb enough to believe they could have freedom without government protection and money), and then the prophit people (the spelling they used when they wrote about the very rich who were stupid enough to believe they could earn great profits without government and customers).

It was death by a thousand cuts, except it did not take a thousand cuts.

It was much easier than that. Instead of following the Big Brother model from the novel, 1984, knowing it is difficult and costly to brainwash educated people, it was easier to simply round up as many stupid people as possible. It was also better. It was better, because stupid people always believed anything the idea guys told them.

They knew they couldn’t make everyone dumb enough. They also knew it wasn’t necessary, because they only had to fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time.

Given that government helps create wealth and freedom for the middle class, and for the rich and the poor, the idea guys focused first on the people who could be fooled all of the time, to fool them into believing the opposite. To fool them into believing government takes away freedom and destroys wealth.

It was easy to do, as long as it made no sense.

The idea guys knew they could not have the count-me-out gang or Dinner Party politicians make rational arguments, because there are no rational arguments or facts to support any of the ideas they planned on using to destroy government in order to destroy the middle class, then the poor, then the wealthy, then the country.

They knew if they tried to use rational arguments, the plan would self destruct.

They knew they had to keep it irrational.

They knew they could do that if they first destroyed the belief in knowledge, logic, facts, science, education, and a free press.

Which is why the plan was to never stop attacking facts and knowledge. It was like being the first to speak in a debate. If you're smart, you use your position to destroy what you know your opponent will say before he or she can say it. Then your opponent is left with nothing.

They knew if they destroyed the belief in rational thinking, facts, and knowledge, no one could ever use logic or facts or knowledge to refute what they said. Therefore, the more irrational, the better.

They first used the ideas-are-better-than-facts dogma to split the country into a small number of very wealthy people and a growing number of lower to lower middle-class people.

Then they split business. Businesses, whether they were production or retail, that sold to the very wealthy were split off from those that sold to middle-class, lower middle-class, and poor people.

And as the middle class shrunk, so did the companies that sold to middle class customers.

They knew the plan could have led to a business war, with corporations making millions or billions from middle class customers fighting against Dinner Party policies that hurt their customers and their profits while helping businesses that made their profits from the top one percent and businesses whose customers were the growing number of poorer people.

The plan used financial crashes and recessions to destroy businesses with middle class customers; to wipe them out before they could join the fight.

They used false market ideas to claim financial crashes and recessions can not be avoided with regulations. It was how they put companies with middle class customers out of business and made sure there was no possibility of a fair fight among businesses. 

Of course, they knew such a fight could never be fair anyway.

They used false market ideas to get rid of regulations on financial firms, which, although it was what financial firms thought they wanted, eventually led to the destruction of the financial industry. They played on the financial industry’s belief that regulations hurt their profits, while knowing that without regulations, the industry could not survive.

There were a few battles in the political-economics business war. But the war had already been won.

The Dinner Party already owned the country, because the idea guys had been able to round up large numbers of single-issue voters to support the top one percent while attacking the middle class, and because it had been so easy to make single-issue voters feel good about sacrificing their own lives and the lives of their own children so the very wealthy could become even richer.

They reduced government funding for public radio and public television, which let corporate sponsors control programming.

They engineered a recession that hurt the middle class.

They abolished the military draft and instituted what they called a volunteer army in order to prevent anti-war protests. Of course, it wasn't really volunteering; it was joining for pay.

They passed legislation at both state and national levels that destroyed public education, unions, social security, and government health programs for the middle class and the poor, and they attacked all attempts at regulating climate change.

Climate change was a huge part of the plan, for two reasons. One was that the financial backers of the Dinner Party made a lot of money in industries that caused climate change. The other was that the economic damages from climate change would wipe out the middle class, make the poor poorer, and then destroy the very rich.

Whenever there were complaints about the truth behind the ideas, the response was to have mobs of Dinner Party voters hold up signs that said, “Don’t let the facts get in the way.” Or, “The media is biased, because the media reports facts.”

When it was over, after the middle class was destroyed, the poor made poorer, and the very rich crushed, the people looked back and realized that each and every Dinner Party argument, promise, and action could have been explained by asking one simple question: Does it help or hurt the economy?

In each case, the answer was clear. The purpose of each and every Dinner Party action had been to hurt economic growth and destroy the economy. The destruction was not an unintended or unexpected side effect of the All government bad; no government good chant. It was the intended effect. It was the plan.
 
8. The Darkness

 IT DID NOT TAKE LONG before the bought-and-paid-for legislators had nothing to do, because they had no tax money to spend and no way to enforce laws they might make, or for the corporations that bought them to stop paying them, because legislators with no taxpayer money to hand out served no profitable purpose for corporations.

Or for the people. But that part didn’t matter, because the government no longer had anything to do with the people.

Eventually, the legislators went home and did other things.

Before they left, the capital and all other government buildings were sold to trolls offering the highest prices. As one legislator who was loading up his car explained, “There is no need for legislators to make laws that cannot be enforced. So there is no need to provide office space to legislators with nothing to do. From now on, everyone will have to deal directly with the trolls.”

That was it.

When it was time for the next election, there was no opposition when the Dinner Party put a corporation on the ballot as its presidential candidate.

Some asked how a corporation could be president.

The answer from the Dinner Party was that it was time to run the government like a business.

Some argued that a corporation could not legally be president, but the Dinner Party pointed out that their Supremes had already declared corporations were individuals.

Only a few people voted, and the corporation received all the votes.

Then, to fulfill a promise made during the single-candidate election, the corporation wrote a new List of Laws.

“We the people, because we can spend our own money better than government can, do eliminate, now and forever, all taxes, and give complete and irreversible control and ownership of our government, our central bank, and our nation to the corporation.”

The corporation said nothing more was needed.

The corporation said it was now time to make good on its campaign promise to put the finishing touches on the big idea.

The elimination of all regulations on financial businesses had been easy, and it quickly led to massive speculation and losses that caused countless bankruptcies and dragged the nation into a terrible recession. And because no one could trust anything offered for sale by unregulated businesses, even people who still had a little money stopped buying. Profits disappeared and more businesses went out of business. As more businesses went out of business, more people lost their jobs. As more customers disappeared, more businesses went out of business.

There was the closing of all police and fire departments, the abandonment of courts (because courts had no purpose if laws could not be enforced), and the end of copyright and patent protection for the products people and companies created and made.

More businesses went out of business.

There was no longer any tax-money to give to corporations.

No defense budget. No defense spending.

Nothing but the purity of a system where everyone was free to spend every single penny of his or her money exactly the way he or she wanted; where anyone could copy and sell any document or product written or created by someone else; where no contracts could be enforced; and where property rights did not exist.

And all the wealth that had been accumulated over the years evaporated.

A few trolls had been able to get people to pay for a few things government had bought for them in the past. But not for long. As business after business went out of business, the trolls gave up as well.

There were a few scattered uprisings. And a few complaints whenever the corporation’s Guardians of Freedom Militia had no choice but to kill complainers to protect the freedom and liberty of the people. In order to quiet complaints, the corporation instructed its Supremes to hand down another free speech ruling. The Supremes had already, as instructed, declared that money is speech. So it was no huge leap for the Great Court to declare bullets are also speech and that their use is protected under the free speech doctrine they had already rewritten many times. It was simple: What could be a better expression of someones views and beliefs than bullets?

And that was it.
 

The middle class was gone. The poor (which was now pretty much everyone) were even poorer. The very rich were destroyed. And the land that had once been the most envied in the world sunk into darkness.

After gorging themselves on the tax-free feast served up by the Dinner Party, the people and the trolls watched in disbelief as incomes, profits, and all wealth were transferred to the corporation.

Their squares, which had once been large enough to hold enormous wealth, shrunk with each passing day, until they were barely visible, and then gone.

A few years later, the corporation shut its doors as well.

9. The Cloud Returns

“Who can save us?” the people wondered as they wandered around in the wilderness.

“Maybe the cloud will save us.”
 

“The cloud said it will not come back.” 

“Maybe the trolls can save us.”
 

But the trolls were gone and there were no more private businesses, because private businesses could not exist without government.

“Only government can save us,” the people said.

But there was no government. 

“Government could have saved us.” 

“Maybe.”
 

“But we replaced our government with the corporation.”
 

“We should not have listened to the idea guys.”
 

“I know.”

“It’s all the Dinner Party’s fault,” someone said.

“That’s right,” someone else said. 

“What’s up?” a loud voice said.

The people looked around to see who was talking. 

Finally, someone looked up.

“It’s the cloud!”
 

“The cloud is back!”
 

“You told us you were never coming back,”someone said.
 

“I know,” the cloud said. “I have better things to do. I told you to do what is right. I thought I could trust you. I did not, in my wildest dreams, think you would throw away the once-in-forever opportunity I gave you. And here you are, whining about what you gave away, crying about what you lost, and blaming everyone else.”

“It’s not our fault our country was destroyed,” someone said.

“Right. The big-idea guys did it. The big-idea guys and the Dinner Party.”

“What did they do?” the cloud said.

“It was the Dinner Party’s idea to first get rid of all taxes on the very rich and to then get rid of the entire tax-and-buy plan,” someone said.

“It was the Dinner Party’s idea that small government is better, even though no one ever explained why or what that meant.”

“It was the Dinner Party’s idea that business can prosper without regulations.”

“It was the Dinner Party’s idea that fiscal responsibility means to cut taxes and balance the smaller budget by cutting spending on the economic infrastructure, even though it decreased economic growth, incomes, and profits.”

“It was the big-idea guys who said it was better to let everything crumble than to use taxes to build, maintain, and increase an infrastructure to increase economic growth, incomes, profits, and tax revenues.”
 

“It was the idea guys who said it is always better to choose poverty over wealth if wealth means having government involved.”

“It was the Dinner Party’s idea that freedom means individuals have to fight against and destroy the oppression of the collective.”

“It was the Dinner Party’s idea that global warming wasn’t real, or if it were, that it would be bad for the economy to stop it, when the truth is, global warming was the straw that broke the entire economy. As the oceans rose, major coastal cities were flooded and rivers filled with salt water and ran backwards, constant droughts and exploding populations of insects destroyed agriculture, lakes filled with algae and died,
people lost homes and businesses and insurance was worthless because insurance companies were broke, businesses crumbled and closed under the weight of rising costs, jobs disappeared, profits were gone, incomes dried up, wealth shriveled, and government could no longer save anyone or anything. And that was it.”

“It was,” the cloud said, “The question is, where were you when the opportunity I gave you was voted away? Where were you when the Dinner Party candidates won their elections? Where were you when the vote was taken to eliminate all taxes? Where were you when the tax-and-buy plan was voted out? Where were you when it was necessary for someone to stand up and make it clear that individual freedom cannot exist without the protection of the collective? Where were you when the corporation was the only candidate on the ballot?”

“We were here,” someone said.

“I know,” the cloud thundered. “And I suppose you are going to tell me the people who voted for Dinner Party candidates are not evil and mean.”

“They’re not all evil and mean,” someone said. “My Dinner Party neighbor was pretty nice. They just needed to be educated. They didn’t understand that the things they did and the things they wanted to do had destructive side effects.”

“Really?!” the cloud said. “Side effects?!”

“Right,” someone said. “That’s why we tried to educate them. Why we tried to explain the importance of public education to business, the importance of the environment to business, the importance of keeping religion out of government so true freedom of religion can exist, the importance of an infrastructure for maximizing incomes and profits, and how global warming would destroy the entire economy.”

“How did that go?” the cloud asked.
 

“Not good,” someone said.
 

“So your plan was to let the idea guys destroy everything you had while you wasted your time trying to tell evil people that they don’t understand the facts?” the cloud said. “What makes you think they didn’t know exactly what they were doing and exactly what they were voting for? What makes you think they did not want to destroy education? What makes you think they did not want to destroy the environment you need to live in and do business in? What makes you think they did not want to destroy the economy? And you.”

“So what did they they want?”

“Nothing!!!!!!!” the cloud thundered as a bolt of lightning crashed into a tree. Then another. “You should know that by now. They didn’t want anything!!! They just wanted to destroy what you had. What everyone had. You couldn't educate them. You couldn't change them. You couldn't help them be nice. The only thing you could have done was vote against them.”

“But that means they were knowingly voting to destroy themselves.”

“And their own children.”

“Exactly,” the cloud said. “That is exactly what they did!!!”

“So Dinner Party voters were like suicide bombers.”

“That’s what it looks like,” the cloud said.

“But the Dinner Party said their ideas were good for business, and that what is good for business is good for people.”

“They said giving our money to the richest people would be good for us.”

“They said the more of our money they could take away and give to rich people, the more freedom we would have.”

“And you believed them?” the cloud said.

“It makes sense,” someone said. “If we give our money to the richest people, they will invest it, and when they invest it, they will create jobs, and when they create jobs, we will get our money back.”

“How does that make sense?” the cloud said.

“Because they are the job creators,” someone said.

“No, they’re not,” the cloud said.

“Why not?” someone said. “Why wouldn’t the very rich people who took our money invest it and create jobs?”

“Because it doesn’t make business sense,” the cloud said. “Even little kids playing store or setting up a lemonade stand know there are no profits and no jobs without customers. When the Dinner Party took your money and gave it to the very rich, they hurt you; and that meant they hurt every business in the country that sells to people who are not the richest people in the world. Jobs are created by customers. And no one invests in a business without customers, including the very rich people who got your money. When consumers are hurt, businesses are hurt and jobs are lost. Besides, if they wanted to expand, they can simply borrow the money.”

“So we are the job creators?”

“You were, until they took your money away,” the cloud said.

“I guess we sort of knew the idea guys were hurting the country to help the top one percent.”

“The idea guys did not help the top one percent,” the cloud said. “The idea guys helped one percent of the top one percent, and hurt the rest. They helped businesses that sold things to the top one percent...for a while. They hurt businesses that sold things to those who are not in the top one percent, because that was the plan.”

“Why didn’t tax breaks for the top one percent help everyone in the top one percent?”

“Because when tax cuts that helped the top one percent hurt consumers, business revenues declined and profits fell. When tax cuts hurt the economic infrastructure, business costs increased and profits fell. And paying zero taxes on zero pre-tax profits still adds up to zero after-tax profits.”

“But why didn't the rich and powerful people understand it?”

“Right. Why would the richest, most powerful, and smartest people in the country have supported their own destruction?”

“That is a mystery,” the cloud said. “Maybe they thought they would somehow benefit from the destruction, which means they were not smart enough to see that the ideas they helped promote would lead to their own downfall.”

“How could anyone so rich and powerful not be smart enough to understand how the ideas would destroy everything, including themselves? It makes them sound like suicide bombers, as well.”

“I don’t know,” the cloud said. “Like I said, a kid with a lemonade stand understands it. That’s why kids set up lemonade stands where there might be customers, and not in the back yard or the basement. You would think everyone making business decisions would understand revenue and costs are almost always more important than taxes, because without pre-tax profits, there are no after-tax profits.”

“It looks like being rich and powerful does not mean you are also smart,” someone said.

The people looked at each other and thought about how little remained of their once great nation.

They also thought about how the nation that had been their longstanding enemy was now the only wealthy and powerful nation left.

“Can you give us another chance?” someone asked the cloud.

“No,” the cloud said. “I told you in the beginning it was up to you.”

“But we messed up,” someone said.
 

“I told you not to.”
 

“So what can we do now? The Dinner Party cancelled all future elections. They said elections are no longer necessary. They said, because of the possibility of voter fraud, the only votes that would be counted anyway would be votes for the corporation.”

While the people were thinking of what to say next, the cloud drifted away.

And the nation that had once been the most envied in the world sunk deeper and deeper into poverty and darkness.
 
10. The End

On a cold and rainy day at the beginning of another long, dark winter, a heavy, gray sky parted for just an instant, and a beam of golden sunlight burst through.

Then the clouds closed again.

And from that day on, no child born in the soon to be forgotten land ever again received a magical line.

From that day on, the land that had for a short time been history’s greatest empire lived on in dark, dismal poverty.

From that day on, no child born in the forgotten land knew what had existed, why it had existed, and what had been lost, because Dinner Party schools did not teach real history or facts. Dinner Party schools taught students that facts are evil and ideas are good. Not all ideas. Only the idea guys’ ideas, the ideas the children would never know had destroyed all the wealth and freedom that could have been theirs.

In almost no time at all, no one who lived outside the nation that had been history’s shortest empire even remembered it had existed.

Someone said it all seemed like a fairy tale gone bad. Instead of spinning straw into gold, they had spun gold into straw.
 
Epilogue

“If I knew the way I would take you home.” -
Ripple, Grateful Dead 

The author


Dennis F. Paulaha earned B.S. and M.A. degrees in economics from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington. As a college and university professor, he has taught macroeconomic and microeconomic theory at the principles, intermediate, advanced, and graduate level, monetary theory and policy, environmental economics, and special issues courses.