Jesus’s Own Capitalism

So Monday afternoon, I was sitting in Gorman’s office, working on a presentation for the Board. Tom Morgan was sitting in a large comfy chair away from the small marble table where Tom G. likes to work, when he works. We were mostly done, I had the notes I needed and was about to leave, relieved that I hadn’t been baited yet, but as usual, I was wrong.

“So Bernie, convince me that the Sequestration is the wrong way to go.”

I was far too valuable to the company to be fired for what I said. I brought far too much money in to the company through deals but that didn’t mean that they couldn’t make fun of a Jewish Liberal—and so they tried. Still, I knew better than to respond but Tom’s the boss and my wife, Jane, my son, Mark, and I live in an exclusive sheltered community on the lake because of my CFO salary and that salary depended on Tom Morgan and Tom Gorman.

“Go ahead,” Morgan goaded, from the chair across the room. “We need an outlier opinion and Bernie, that’s part of your job description, it seems. So tell us about about the burden, the harm, the indignation.”

I was long past shrugging or sighing before I spoke and I knew from experience that it was only a matter of time before they would interrupt me to denounce my heresies.

I put down my tablet and looked in front of Tom Gorman’s desk where a simulated chalk silhouette of a body was embroidered into the carpet as a warning to anyone who entered Tom’s office to annoy him. Above his desk and to the right and left were the U.S. Angst, LLC logos centered between an American Flag with dollar green and silver bars where red and white once sufficed and in place of stars there were gold U.S. Dollar signs on a silver background.

“Well, Tom, and Tom, because the sequestration cuts all expenses equally, some cut bone while more bloated expenses don’t get cut nearly enough. That’s a problem for me because…”

That was enough apparently. Tom looked up after peeling the seal from his fifth of Highland Park Scotch. “It doesn’t matter, now does it. The Sequester has another, a better purpose.”

That was my cue to shut up.

“We’re we want to be, Bernie, old sport. The Congress is locked up, the people hate it, and little can get done. Haven’t you ever asked yourself who gains if the Government is hated? Certainly, you must have asked that question? Even Progressives like you are inquisitive sometimes.”

I knew it was better not to respond.

“Our money has stymied Congress and even if we don’t win the Presidency, any time soon, we will someday, and in the mean time, we’ve succeeded in getting simpleton Americans to hate each other and their government in the process. Hey, Bernie, you watch liberal TV, you know how much they bitch. And Conservative TV is the same. How can you expect Congress to agree when the idiots on the street can’t agree among themselves. We have students who refuse to accept Progressive teaching in schools and so we have education on the run. We are doing the job. We are saving America.

“Can’t you see it? Can’t you see it? Tom smiled his wide Irish smile as he put a couple of refrigerated rocks in his glass and then poured three fingers of Scotch. His smile rarely fades when it has a purpose and so it stayed while he took a gulp of the Scotch, swilling it in his mouth before swallowing. “Life is great, even with a black guy in the White House. We’ll do better, but we’re happy enough for now. Nothing gets done.”

I remained silent, waiting hopefully to be dismissed.

From the back of the room, safe in Tom Gorman’s easy chair, Tom Morgan chimed in. “We are on our way, Bernie, old sport, we are on our way. It won’t be too many years before Christ’s Capitalism will be the law of the land and Tom and I and so many other deserving investors, entrepreneurs all, will create God’s own Free Market here on earth. As a Progressive, Bernie, how does it feel to be helping to create a Libertarian paradise, a nationwide shrine for Jesus here on earth?”

“I’d rather just do my job, if that’s okay?”

They had had their fun and so they dismissed me for now.

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What is the Joad Cycle

The Joad Cycle is a series of dystopian speculative fiction novels set in our America from 2032-2084 after a Constitutional Coup has brought to power an extreme Right Wing, Christian, Libertarian Entrepreneur who is the leader of the new Entrepreneur Party. In this America, business interests rule, government has been marginalized. and the poor and the middle class no longer exist, the result of a massive economic genocide. To survive, every citizen lives to create wealth and should living cost more than they can generate in value to the economy, they are executed. Mostly, this is an Anti-capitalist Love Story.

$$$ How to Read this Site $$$

This site is mostly fictional and it supports the novels, providing backstory and additional related short stories that take place within the world of the Joad Cycle.

The site offers a Blog and Journal from the perspective of one main character, the hero of the first book, The Golden Rule . This character, Bernie Rosenthal who is very liberal politically, works as Chief Financial Officer for U.S. Angs, a multinational multibillion dollar private corporation owned by Tom Gorman and Tom Morgan, the Toms, who represent ultra Conservative Koch brother types. Bernie is humbled by the tyrannical Toms during the day and finds a release journaling his job frustration. Meanwhile, Bernie's future self, Berne Thau, adds to the blog entries with his perspective, more than 30 years in the future, after money, greed, and the Right Wing revolution end the American Republic .

We are living in trying times. According to Berne Thau, they will get much more difficult.

Why this curmudgeon wrote this story

Every generation, parents tell their children that life was better back when they were young… and the children always scoff.

But now that I have qualified to pass judgment on that age-old warning, now that I’ve been both young and old, I have come to realize that the old have it right and children scoff at their peril though in the ways that American society has been taught to measures success, every generation since maybe the turn of the twentieth century anyway, has had it better.

But with age, and career experience, I have learned that those ways are deceptive and worse, they are wrong. Success is measured based on wealth, conveniences, and life expectancy issues when it should be evaluated on what we hope to be as individuals and what we become as people—the expectancy of life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been successful enough. For most of my baby boomer life I was comfortable middle class interspersed with a few years of unfortunate decline towards impoverishment, never quite getting there before bootstrapping back to comfort.

For a time, I was a certified member of the 1%—in income though not in wealth. The 1% is a class of people who rule their part of the world and have a lot of confidence that somebody they know rules the rest of it. I wasn’t a one-percenter for many years, but it was a good life until my associations made me believe that I just didn’t want it anymore. I apologize to my family for what I had become and these novels are my penance.

People congratulated me for the success I’d earned as if those less and least successful earned that lack as well. And with the memory of a manufacturing facility in a small, rural, one-employer town in out-of-the-way Northern Maine near the Canadian border closed to improve a bottom line somewhere else, with an American town murdered for earnings per share, I signed off and began to write the The Joad Cycle.

In my research, I came to fear for my family that grew from the narrowest and shallowest possible family tree to three generations deep and two wide. My family is important and so I wrote these novels for them, for their future, for what I dread we have taken from them and will continue to take, long after we are dead.

I live in the Midwest and my friends are good people and I value them. They are conservative and most are Christians and somehow, we argue over unions as if union members aren’t patriotic Americans, too, and besides, what is to be gained by condemning workers in a country of workers. And we disagree on the poor? Social Safety Nets may not be working as well as they could (But how would we know if these Safety Nets are working? It is not as if some brave politician will stand up and precisely define what a win looks like in the freest, richest country in the history of history—and seriously, doesn’t free-form Capitalism deserve the bulk of the blame with its all-encompassing goal of creating winning humans and losing humans).

And discussions on life and death with my conservative friends, life at the very beginning and the very end, and guns and gods…forget about it. But unlike politicians and the media, we are friends so we work around the discomfort and the dislike for the greater good.

My friends are the current version of the salt of the earth and all of us abide by family values above all, even if we can’t agree on them. Good people like us accept a society where too many of our children are handled by strangers during the critical formative years. And in the twilight years too many parents and grandparents are handled by strangers until their money runs out, like sand in an hourglass, their lives extended only so far as Government security or private insurance will grant.

And when Americans finally expire after insufferable pain and embarrassment and to the sighs of sad but relieved loved ones, it reveals the immaturity of the vast majority of the American people who won’t resolve; once and for all, when God’s reason ends life and so they leave that to for-profit resolution. Can’t it just be in the fading twinkle of an ancient woman’s eyes?

But all of this pales to the legacy of GREED! Greed, that race for wealth that is ingrained in us all from television at a too early age that drives us to become economically viable so that with something extra in our paychecks at the end of the week, we can indulge ourselves with gifts, with palliatives, to relieve the pain and discomfort that we feel for doing what we must do to earn what wealth we cab. Greed is the satisfying of artificial and constant cravings.

And those who are considered the best of us, majority stockholders, officers of corporations, politicians, and celebrities all at the top of their respective food chains, they earn their way into the 1% and possessing this true wealth, they gift themselves truly extraordinary palliatives in order to compensate for something deeply unsatisfying within that was once more human, what they lost in the dog-eat-dog world that we all live in.

This is the world that we pass on to our children and our grandchildren. This world is what will own them someday like it owns us today. They are truly greed’s legacy. That too is the basis for my cautionary tale of America’s future, The Joad Cycle.

But I still idealize my youth. I remember what it felt like when I was a boy and so I wrote a grand love story, too.

 

Gary Levey

05/01/2012