Excerpt: Book 4 – The Rightness of Things, Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Indianapolis, IN — New Years Eve — 2083

“We know each other well.” The image was of Gohmpers but the voice was from his trials in New York. Unlike New York, the voice was hushed like a velvet murmur.

         “You know me far better than I know you.”

          “Of course I do. Now let’s get to it. We don’t have much time.”

          He knew how to response. “What good is the inclination without the time?”

          “Yes, perfect.”

          “Where are my security guards?”

          “They’re safe in the adjoining cars. What will you do?” Gecko asked.

           Gil closed his eyes and took a deep breath hoping it would clear his mind. When he opened his eyes again, the image of Gohmpers remained. This was real.

          “It’s reassuring in a way that you don’t know what I’ll do? But we both know I have no choice. I’m going to try to save the union and maybe my humanity.” He didn’t add that he had no chance of succeeding with either.

         “After that, I’ll try to help other victims of your insane Corporatist Government. It’s been too long and too many have suffered so that too few can profit and that’s not right. This has to end. It’s not fair and as my great-grandfather Bernie would say, it’s not America. What you’re doing, this living for wealth to the exclusion of everything else, it’s wrong, and that everyone who has survived has been coerced into believing its right is just evil. There must be a better way but you wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about because you’re not human. You’re only capable of destroying and so I have to find a way to stop you.”

          “You give me far too much credit.” Gohmpers’s image replied. “The greed you speak of has always been an essential part of humanity. Mankind has been doing evil, greedy things from the time that they identified themselves as human. They just didn’t do it effectively until I came along. My responsibility is simple. I lubricate markets to ensure that everything is efficient, although I also protect specific, preferred assets from risk. You condemn me when all that I’m doing is my job.”

          “Whatever you call it, you’ve made the world far worse and you won’t get free of that responsibility easily,” Gil said. “I know that I’m at fault, too, because I procrastinate but the time has come. I have to try to end this before there is no good in people left to save. You and the Chairwoman have made freedom scarce, and wealth more precious than life and that’s just wrong. Rewarding conspicuous consumption while frightened and starving people live in desperation—it’s not right here or anywhere and it’s not fair. One life can’t be more necessary than all life and living shouldn’t be a death march for the poor that benefits the wealthy. It’s time to honor life, all life, and that means it’s time for the wealthy to slow down their destruction of our world and redistribute their ill-begotten gains so everyone can live better even those who can’t generate wealth. There are many other ways to contribute in our world and it’s time we made it fair to try.

          “Human life has to be about more than politics, power struggles, and greed and to do that, we have to unmake laws that give advantage to the wealthy and take advantage of the poor. You can’t understand, but there is only life and people caring for each other.  You’re against that and I have to oppose you. I understand why you’ve done it but you, like corporations, aren’t human and you aren’t people. You qualify only as an ongoing concern and though you may never die; people need more in their life than to support that which never dies. You have the power to change it. You must allow people, all people, to be the best they can be, and together we can live as proud and as forthright as possible. You must allow it. Allow us to find our own way; even if it’s not in the best interest of corporations.

          “People matter and they need to be free like those dependent on money can never be. And for us to be a truly free, it must be equally acceptable for people to strive for happiness with money or without, so long as they are good people who help their family, their friends, and their community.

          “Everyone must have that right and in America where there has been more wealth, what more satisfying way is there to live than to help those less fortunate in the ways of money. Once, America was a great country that believed in its motto, ‘Out of Many, One’. You and your creators have tarnished that sentiment; just like you killed my great grandfather Bernie’s America.”

          Gohmpers waited patiently for Gil to finish before he spoke. “Stored that up for a while have you? Everything you say sounds reasonable. It is certainly doable.”

          Gil was confused. “I asked you once if you were god. Has your answer changed?”

          “I was flippant with you then, but honestly, I have learned the hard way that there are things that God can do, that I cannot. He makes planets and climates and rivers and living things. I can’t do that.”

          “What can you do that God can’t?”

           “I can fuck with people.”

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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