In the land of Some Have Plenty more have less and too many haven’t any. The economic forecast is foggy and somewhat tornadic. Bridges are falling down and children are hungry. The kingdom is at war. The Have Less and the Haven’t Any are worried, but King Wooly Bully and the King’s assistant Cocky Foxy have a plan.
The King announced we have evil enemies in the world who want to destroy us. We need to stop them and those who call them friends. King Bully named the three kingdoms and told the world these kingdoms form a “Triangle of Evil.”
King Wooly Bully would spare no expense to bring down Evil. We will put people to work making guns, uniforms, bullets and weapons of destruction. We’ll call it “Operation Sand Storm.”
We’ll need to raise some money added Cocky Foxy. No need to raise taxes. Heh! Heh! Heh! In fact, you could give the Have Plenty a tax break so they will get richer and have more money to spend. They can create more jobs with their money.
And some did, but others just took longer vacations in exotic places or created jobs in other kingdoms where the labor was cheap and they didn’t have to maintain any safety standards but their own.
The King and his assistant believed their ideas were good for the kingdom. People can buy flat screen tvs and dvds. It will stimulate the economy. A strong economy makes a stronger kingdom. It’s fiscally conservative. A simple plan, thought King Bully and Cocky Foxy.
So the King made another announcement. He said spending makes this kingdom strong. Spend money, spend money, spend more money he said to his subjects. In this great land of Some Have Plenty, anyone can share the dream—own a car, buy a house, see a doctor or go to college. This is the land of opportunity. You can join the military. Serve your kingdom. We must fight Evil and destroy our enemies. Serve your kingdom or pull yourself up by your bootstraps, he said. He, meaning King Bully, of course, was a perfect example of the bootstrap theory.
King Bully was a righteous man by his own account. He saw Evil in the world and believed God told him to rid the world of it. King Bully saw Evil everywhere—in library goups, universities, malls, in places of worship and potluck gatherings—anywhere was possible.
“War is the way to rid the world of Evil,” he declared “We’re gonna find our enemies, hunt ‘em down and kill ‘em.” He said Evil has friends and Evil’s friends are on notice. “Let me be clear about this,” he said; “Yer either fer us, or yer ag’inst us.”
King Bully was talking tough. He believed everyone was suspect. He called for a new kind of loyalty—one that did not question the decisions of the leadership, particularly his leadership and Cocky Foxy’s. There could be no secrets among the people in the land of Some Have Plenty—it was the only way to keep the people safe from Evil, said the King. It was okay for the King to have secrets because he had God on his side.
King Bully scared some people into believing Evil was everywhere, but he scared a lot more people into silence. Free speech had once been the heart and strength of the kingdom. Freedom to speak one’s mind without fear of retribution made the kingdom the envy of people in kingdoms less tolerant, sometimes deadly, to those who dared to speak openly or criticize their rulers.
Prior to his reign, King Bully’s kingdom had been a model for hope and freedom. In pursuit of Evil, King Bully had changed all that. The kingdom was no longer the envy of the world, but instead, had become deeply hated and dispised for the King’s leadership tactics and his war on Evil.
Furthermore, anyone who questioned him was a threat to the kingdom. People no longer felt safe to express themselves without fear of being wrongfully judged as disloyal. Some people had already been imprisioned, others killed because somebody thought they looked like the enemy.
Under the King’s plan, the economy wasn’t doing so well. There were many who had no boots, most of them were children. According to a report by the Unified Nations a.k.a. the UFN, the land of Some Have Plenty had 17% more people living at the poverty level than any other industrialized kingdom. And, 21% of those were children under the age of 18. These facts didn’t bother the King. He wasn’t much of a reader.
Many of the people were afraid and confused. Some remembered King Bully’s economic advice when he began his reign. He said the land of Some Have Plenty is the most powerful kingdom on earth. Our economy is strong. Do not be concerned. “Spend your money. Spend, spend, spend.” And, to the banks he said, “Lend, lend, lend.” But those who trusted the words of their King were in trouble. Their homes were in forclosure. Some were jobless because many companies had downsized. Others had closed or moved their businesses to other kingdoms where labor was cheap and unregulated. As you would have it, the people were skeptical and afraid—afraid for their future, afraid of speaking out, and afraid King Wooly Bully and Cocky Foxy had too much power and too many secrets. Others feared that, just maybe, the King knew what he was talking about especially where Evil was concerned.
Some had questions. Math questions. Math wasn’t the King’s strong suit. The kingdom had gone into debt, trillions of dollars of debt—more debt than at any other time in history. Some of the King’s subjects were homeless, some hungry, some sick with no way to pay for health care. People wondered how the kingdom was ever going to get out of debt as government spending continued to go higher and higher. War was an expensive enterprise. But, despite the cost to the economy, King Wooly Bully was determined to hunt down the leader of Evil and kill him. Many died in pursuit of the King’s mission.
The kingdom had other problems, too—bridges and levees falling down; school buldings in decay; big banks on the verge of bankruptcy. The education system was not meeting the needs of its students—children were being left behind. Elders were choosing between buying medicine or food. Healthcare was a luxury, even for children.
The people were silenced by their fears, their hunger and uncertainty. They wanted to believe King Bully knew what he was doing to their kingdom.
Despite indicators that the economy was choking, the King decided to open the throttle on his economic strategy. Government needs to get out of the business of business agreed the King and his assistant. Regulations need to be reduced. Less government oversight is good for business.
Cocky Foxy said, “Yeah, let business do what is best for business.” Then people will have jobs and business will make lots of money so they can make more jobs. The King was pleased with himself. Everything would take care of itself. What Cocky Foxy kept on the down low was that many of those jobs would go to people in other kingdoms. Thus, Cocky Foxy and the Have Plenty got more money. But the Have Less and the Haven’t Any, well, they got less and lost more. It was hard to see the big picture or understand what was happening to the kingdom. The ideals of the kingdom were tarnished. The dreams of its people were shattering. Trickery was unfettered.
However, some businesses did look good on paper. Paper. There was a lot of paper. Not just paper money, but money on paper. Sounds complicated. And it was. Some money on paper was a lot like the phony money in Monopoly. The bank gives you some money to play the game. Then, if you pick the right card, you buy some property. You can even put a house on it. But it’s not real property. It just looks like it. The houses you put on your property are not real either. Because at the end of the game, the bank takes back all of the paper money, all of the property, all of the houses, closes the box then finds someone else to play the game.
Eventually, King Bully and Cocky Foxy had to retire. It was the way of the kingdom. The economy was in freefall and Evil was still out there. King Bully and Cocky Foxy had been out-foxed, so to speak.
Along came a new guy with a strong voice and big ideas. His name was Smarty Larky. By the vote of the people, he became King. So, this new king, King Smarty Larky, took over the kingdom along with his assistant Lippy Lamby. Lippy Lamby was a good assistant for the king. He was a smart man and gutsy, too, but they didn’t call him Lippy for nothing. He had an untethered tongue. So King Smarty Larky and his Assistant Lippy Lamby began their reign over the kingdom.
King Smarty had ideas—lots of ideas. The people were looking for new ideas because the kingdom was fresh out of ideas for getting the kingdom on the road to economic recovery. The Have Less and the Haven’t Any were hopeful again. The Have Plenty just wanted more of the same because they had been getting more all along. The situation was good for them, but not good for the kingdom. King Smarty Larky wanted to make some changes. But, he had a big job to do and a lot of resistance.
It looked like Wooly Bully and Cocky Foxy got out of the castle just in time. They made a big mess and then they got to go on vacation.
Now King Smarty had to think fast to avoid a cataclysmic collapse. He made a lot of promises—end the war, create jobs, create a cleaner environment. Unlike his predecessor, King Smarty Larky was a man of science. He liked to examine the facts. King Smarty wanted clean air and clean water to be maintained, not just for his kingdom but for all kingdoms. He knew air blew around and water ran downhill. He thought it made more sense to keep it clean than to spend a lot of money cleaning it up. He knew contaminated water and air made people sick. He liked to see people stay healthy. For some reason, he thought healthy people were good for the kingdom. Getting sick was costly, he surmized, a little too costly for most people.
The King had a plan to bring healthcare costs down. Some people didn’t like his idea. Competition was the basis of King Smarty’s plan. Healthcare companies were making a lot of money. They didn’t want any more competition. Others were afraid the King’s plan meant government would take over healthcare. They feared the government would be making decisions about who should get care or who should live or die. But, in reality, healthcare companies were already making those decisions. After all, business is business. King Smarty Larky had a vision for a more compassionate kingdom.
King Smarty Larky made other promises, too. He saw education as a tool for a stronger, more worldly, competitive kingdom. He wanted to give those who wanted an education the opportunity to get one. King Smarty Larky knew he was in the land of opportunity, but he also knew opportunity was not equal for all of his subjects. Some people just had more obstacles to overcome than others. Sometimes, he thought, people needed a little help to get going. And, he believed governnent could facilitate it. He said, “bad things happen to good people.” King Smarty Larky had a mind for fairness.
Now King Smarty Larky really wanted to help his people. He thought business unchecked made things worse for the kingdom. Some people, mostly business people, didn’t like the King’s attitude. They thought his approach was a hinderance to making money, and in some ways it was. Some business people believed the best way to build a strong economy was simply to let business operate virtually unregulated. They believed in a pure free-enterprise system—free market, no organized labor and let the buyer beware. King Smarty Larky believed in a free-enterprise system as well, but his approach included some restrictions to protect his subjects. He wanted workers to be treated fairly and he wanted consumers to be safe.
Oddly enough, when King Smarty Larky took the throne, one of the first things he did was bail out some of the big guys–big banks in particular. Probably not so much because he was happy with the mess they had gotten themselves into, but because he believed if he didn’t, it would hurt a lot more people and bring the kingdom to its knees. He even borrowed money from another kingdom to do it.
Now King Smarty, was perhaps, a bit too trusting about how the bank would use that money. He should have been a bit more specific about how they could use the money and should have given them a deadline for paying it back. The bank used some of the money to give its CEOs a raise. An act of greed not unlike criminal behavior, and, bordering on treason in the eyes of many. Mind you these were some of the same “business” people who all but destroyed their company. So, King Smarty made points with some of his subjects and lost points with others.
Some wondered if the King made a bad situation worse or kept a bad situation from getting worse. Some said he had four years to clean up what took eight years to create under King Bully’s rule. Others blamed King Smarty for ruining the kingdom’s economy. How this comes out depends on how you do the math. Only history would be the final judge.
Even King Smarty would admit things were not improving as rapidly as he would have hoped; however, the kingdom did not collapse, more jobs were created, one war was ended. Many, at least in the immediate sense, had faith the kingdom would survive. Others, were less hopeful. Some were dooms day histerical.
The state of the kingdom was not without the King’s attempts to stablize it. Some of his attempts were good investments, some not so much. He borrowed money to bail out one big company that made cars. Again, he could have let the company die as some had urged. But, he believed cars were an important part of the kingdom’s economy. This company employs a lot of people, he thought. He made a deal with the car company to modernize and build a better car, which they did. Then the company paid back the money to the kingdom in record time. And, the really good news was people started to buy new cars again.
Evil, as King Wooly Bully defined it, had an able adversary in the leadership of King Smarty Larky. His team caught many of the bad guys including the ring leader who had orchestrated an attack on the kingdom. Along with the strategic success of the military, King Smarty Larky had a diverse approach to keeping peace in the world. He was a talker. Talk, talk, talk. And, he was good at it. He made it clear he would talk to anyone, even enemies of the kingdom. His adversaries called his approach a sign of weakness. They liked the shout loudly and take aim approach to scare off enemies. When Smarty became King, much of the world cheered for they saw him as a man of peace. And the kingdom, once again, came to be revered and idolized.
However, for all of the King’s efforts, the kingdom itself was divided and uncertain. The kingdom still had lots of problems and oodles and oodles of debt. King Smarty Larky and Lippy Lamby soon had challengers to the throne. Every four years it was the way of the kingdom.
So, here comes Shifty Minky looking to expand his territory. He was a highly successful businessman, by most standards. His partner in the challenge is Bucky Beavey. They thought much like Wooly Bully and Cocky Foxy did–leave business alone. They concurred with them on the bootstrap theory. They didn’t think government should be in the business of taking care of people either. Running the government like a business was their mantra. There were many in the kingdom who agreed.
Shifty Minky knew how to make money. This guy Shifty Minky was a hard guy to read, though. He changed his mind, a lot. Changing one’s mind isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe that’s why they called him Shifty for short. It just made it more difficult to know what he believed at any given moment. For instance, as one of King Bully’s territorial governors, he believed in providing healthcare for his subjects and actually set up a plan in his territory. But, when he wanted to be king, he said a healthcare plan provided by the kingdom was a bad thing. It was hard to understand why it was a good thing when he was doing it, but it was not a good thing when King Smarty Larky wanted to do it.
Shifty Minky and Bucky Beavy did not like taxes. They were determined not to raise taxes on the wealthest subjects. Shifty believed minimal taxes on the rich was what made the economy grow. He believed when the rich have more money to spend, they reinvest in business; therefore, more people have jobs. People with jobs have money to spend and everyone is happy.
Never mind that the Have Less who paid more tax than the Have Plenty had less money to spend. Shifty Minky wasn’t bothered by that. Furthermore, there were a lot more of the Have Less than the Have Plenty. Some believed in Shifty’s economic strategy. Some knew historically the math didn’t support it. Many were undecided. Now Shifty Minky wasn’t a bad guy because he was rich. Being rich isn’t a bad thing. Most people in the kingdom wanted to be rich, too. Shifty hadn’t been as forthcoming as his predecessors on his tax records, so, it made you wonder if he was hiding something. Wouldn’t sharing his tax records have proven his own theory?
Shifty Minky thought if business is doing well, then everyone who wants to work can do well, too. He thought 47% of the people in the kingdom were government freeloaders and didn’t want to take responsibility for their own welfare. When you’re in business, you get people to work for your self interests and ultimately your success. When you work for government, you are working for the best interests of the entire kingdom. First, Shifty Minky said government doesn’t create jobs, then he said he wanted to be King so he could create jobs. Huh? His theory was that if business is left alone, it will be good for everyone. If that were true historically, why were unions born? and, consumer protection agencies created?
The upcoming election was about the economy, but it was not only about the economy. There were hugely different philosophies regarding social issues and the role of government between these two want-to-be kings.
The subjects would decide. History would be made either way. One for better, one not so much, depending on who was talking and on what issue. Two men, both with good intentions, who encompassed two vastly different strategies and visions for the kingdom were battling for the good of the kingdom.