The drawbridge is down. The gate is up. The guards have fled to protect their own. Even those of incredible conviction, who have climbed the tower steps to defend the walled town, find the doors to the parapets obstructed by red-coated confederates in league with the invading horde.
Inside the city walls, the citizenry is confused, their appreciation of their own interests having been subverted and subdued by the money-backed messengers who speak for the attackers. Proud to give to society but not wanting to be taken, they cower in their homes, guarding their aging mules, their meager larder, and their beliefs.
About a half-dozen of the town’s leaders stand just inside the gate. Never accepting of the bombardment of misleading messages spread by the attackers’ well paid agents, they hope to turn aside the arrows of absolute aristocracy with the only means of truth they know – the conscientious compassion of wisdom, logic and experience.
These few face the fight because they understand that the wealthy invaders will take all their community has, including the treasury that helps feed everyone, house them, and protect their health and their modest assets in their old age. They know that if they placed the power in the hand of the ravenous group outside the gate, the invaders’ fingers would close around the reins, consolidating the community’s wealth for themselves and crushing their promise in a dispassionate fist.
A messenger, dispatched from the power hungry horde to negotiate terms, paces about the six or seven city leaders, trying to woo them with promises of limitless largess, but the wise ones are easily able to discern their true intent.
“It is your money. You should do with it as you choose,” says the agent.
“It is our money. You should give it to us to do as we choose,” the leaders understand the messenger to be saying.
“We will create jobs so you can feed your families and pay your debts,” says the agent.
“We will control how much you make, where you work, and make sure you give your money to us,” hear the leaders.
Agent says: “Why can’t you see that what benefits us will, in the long run, benefit you?”
Leaders hear: “Why can’t you see that what is yours is ours, and you will be ever so grateful to us when we let you have some?”
For now, though, there is no happy ending to this story. The wealthy invaders easily walk into the town and take it over. The truth in the old leaders’ words become harder to hear, as the new leaders have about drowned them out with a boatload of money and a believable – but untrue – promise of opportunity for the masses.
No, the happy ending here is in what has yet to happen: an awakening to the manipulation that serves no one’s interests but the powerfully wealthy; a renaissance of appreciation for the purposeful society, where the participants eagerly do the best for themselves and for each other; an enlightenment, that tolerates as patriotic, a responsible questioning of the motivation behind the goals of our leaders. That is our future, if we are smart enough to see it, and brave enough to step into it.
Facts for further exploration:
- There are now 261 millionaires in both Houses of Congress, according to a recent study. That is very close to half of all our representatives, on both sides of the aisle.
- Not all millionaires are out to get us. Check out Christiane Amanpour‘s discussion on ABC’s This Week, with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Ted Turner and other billionaires who have committed to giving large parts of their fortunes away to build a better, more educated and peaceful society, as participants in Gates’ and Buffett’s “The Giving Pledge“. Incidentally, neither of them oppose letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans, which they are.
PS. It’s the age-old question central to trickle down. What made America a great land of opportunity – the industrialists or the workers who helped make them rich? The rail barons, or the people that built and ran it? The coal barons or the miners? The oil barons or the men on the drill, driving the trucks, pumping the gas? Ford, GM and Chrysler, or the guys on the assembly line? What do you think?