THE GARDENER RETURNS, A DIALOGUE, PART FIVE

Gardener – Pooh doesn’t have a choice. After all he’s a little bear.
Writer – Even Christopher Robin can see how Pooh’s desires are always getting him into trouble. And I suspect his parents expect him to hear a little voice, more like, “Why Christopher, it’s time you realize this is not in your best interest!”
Gardener – But all the King’s men hope our heads get stuck in the honey pot. They’re betting on it.
Writer – Until we’re out of money! Then the King wants the pot back, Heffalumps or not!
Gardener – Pooh shattered the pot on a tree stump. Remember? In Chapter V of A. A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh, In Which Piglet Meets A Heffalump.
Writer – Which isn’t in the King’s best interest!
Gardener – Unless the King’s men are betting on the pot breaking anyway.
Writer – I suppose the King’s men think they can have it both ways.
Gardener – They can in the short term.
Writer – Still I can’t understand why King Corporation and all its political minions are so improvident?
Gardener – Because they’re children like the rest of us. Like us they’re looking for John Galt!
Writer – Yet to this day all the King’s horses and all the King’s men still haven’t put it back together again.
Gardener – It? You mean Humpty Dumpty?
Writer – I mean the economy.
Gardener – Some people say Humpty’s a person.
Writer – Those people would have to call him a chicken.
Gardener – I’m referring to his character, but the fertilized egg.
Writer – I know.
Gardener – Who’s going to understand me when I order two chickens sunny side up with toast and jam?
Writer – Plays havoc with the vernacular, doesn’t it? Maybe we should eliminate the word “egg” entirely.
Gardener – That would make reptiles mammals.
Writer – Birds too.
Gardener – Aren’t birds related to dinosaurs anyway?
Writer – That’s true, but what about humans? After conception don’t we look like fish?
Gardener – You mean the gills? Would the census have to record the demographic surge of fish inside every pregnant woman’s uterus?
Writer – Maybe tadpoles. But imagine the costs in accounting if one of these registered human tadpoles is stillborn. We’ll never get the population numbers right and the overhead will be fantastic!
Gardener – Imagine if the same nitwits lowered the voting age to 270BB.
Writer – You lost me there.
Gardener – Two hundred and seventy days before birth.
Writer – I suppose the expectant mother would be a proxy?
Gardener – What if she’s having twins? Does she vote three times?
Writer – What if one of the preborn humans is a Republican and the other a Democrat? Does that mean inter-uterine war or a dysfunctional family?
Gardener – I see a silver lining to this semantic chaos. At garden centers we could begin selling packets of seed as flats of plants. Nursery owners wouldn’t have to sow seed, prick them off, repot the seedlings and keep the flats watered. Think of the savings!
Writer – If we go on like this we’ll all go crazy. What I want to know is how Humpty Dumpty got on that wall anyway?
Gardener – I know. One bright morning the King, looking out over the city from the corporate office on the seventieth floor of the palace somewhere downtown, saw Humpty sitting in a public square, shinning with contentment and mistook him for the golden egg. Thinking only of Humpty’s safety, the King told the King’s men to bring Humpty back to headquarters.
Writer – Brilliant! The King saw Humpty Dumpty as a future. After all, an egg is potentially a thing to come.
Gardener – Not to those who think it already is.
Writer – True, but the Supreme Court will resolve that. The important thing is that the King who possesses the golden egg possess a golden future.
Gardener – But wouldn’t the King want the goose too?
Writer – As you just pointed out, some people think the fertilized egg is also a being. If the King and the King’s men don’t see any difference between the fertilized egg and the chicken they’d naturally assume Humpty was the goose!
Gardener – I thought he was a chicken.
Writer – He was until he laid a golden egg. A goose lays the golden egg, not a chicken.
Gardener – If Humpty’s a male, he can’t lay eggs.
Writer – Obviously “he” can’t lay eggs. Without going into this any further, let’s also assume that Humpty’s a female who liked dressing as a male.
Gardener – Essentially then we are in the middle of a tautology to use one of your favorite words. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Writer – You mean the goose or the egg.
Gardener – How come Plato never runs into these dilemmas when laying out his dialogues?
Writer – We have to keep trying! Remember the King isn’t infallible. The King is not the Pope. The King didn’t know that the miller’s daughter couldn’t spin gold.
Gardener – You mean the King was befuddled by the gold.
Writer – Yes and we agree that when the King saw Humpty Dumpty in the public square the King claimed him for the good of the Kingdom! But you still haven’t answered my question, how did Humpty get on top of the wall?
Gardener – Okay. In their zeal the King’s men were trying to push Humpty over the palace wall when he fell.
Writer – But why not take Humpty through the revolving doors in front?
Gardener – The King thought it would be best if the King’s subjects didn’t know. . .
Writer – You mean “shareholders” or possibly “customers.” Wouldn’t that make our story more relevant?
Gardener – Yes, the King didn’t want the customers to worry about the King cornering the open market.
Writer – Of course! The King values Adam Smith’s comment in Wealth Of Nations, Chapter XI, Part I, entitled Rent Of The Produce Of Land Which Always Affords Rent. And I quote, “monopoly. . . is a great enemy to good management, which can never be universally established but in consequence of that free and universal competition which forces everybody to have recourse to it for sake of self-defense.” The King, of course, interprets this as “the less said, the better.” That’s why rules and regulations and all the questions and answers they require are troublesome. And that would explain why all the King’s men and all the King’s horses pushed Humpty over the wall.
Gardener – The King was afraid of what the customers in the square would say.
Writer – Naturally the King’s legal advisors are on top of this. They claim that the King has every right to corner the economy, since the King is doing it for the good of the Kingdom, which is, at the same time, the King.
Gardener – Wait a minute, you’re getting way ahead of me.
Writer – Remember in King Lear, when Gloucester, himself synonymous with that part of England, introduces the princes of France and Burgundy? He calls them France and Burgundy! We all know one prince is greeting another prince, just as we know King Lear is one person although he likes calling himself “we.” He means “we, the people of the Kingdom.” Agreed?
Gardener – Whatever!
Writer – And since we agree that an egg. . .
Gardener – Any egg?
Writer – Any egg is both a goose in the present and a goose in the future.
Gardener – It’s the same goose, isn’t it!
Writer – Naturally the BB goose is the same as the AB goose.
Gardener – Right! The before birth goose is the same as the after birth goose. Right.
Writer – So we can assume that the golden egg, since it belongs to everyone, that is “we” is both the King at this moment and the King at a future date.
Gardener – Does that mean the King is also Humpty Dumpty since I thought we had agreed that Humpty Dumpty was both the golden egg, that is himself but also the goose that laid the egg, that is herself.
Writer – Does this eliminate old mother goose?
Gardener – Do you mean she might be Humpty’s mother?
Gardener – I’m afraid genealogy was never my strongest subject.
Gardener – We’re beginning to talk riddles like all the King’s vassals.
Writer – Look, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll call the King and Humpty Dumpty, Persons, since calling them a goose. . .
Gardener – You mean geese or is it gaggle, since we have two persons.
Writer – You are veering! Calling the King a goose would be derogatory. Humpty Dumpty is our metaphor. . .
Gardener – For the economy.
Writer – Precisely and we are trying to understand why the King wants to get the economy, that is our future, over the palace wall.
Gardener – The King claims “we. . . ”
Writer – Royal “we.”
Gardener – Can keep an eye on it for the good of the Kingdom which we now realize is also the King, because the Kingdom is “we”.
Writer – Precisely, but now I’m confused. Do we mean that the King kidnapped Humpty Dumpty because it was in the best interest of the egg?
Gardener – Does it matter? The King and the King’s men finished Humpty off, period!
Writer – It’s a sad commentary on our leadership both in business and in government which are essentially the same these days – since they follow the same management paradigm – when Kings and all the Kings’ men become so jaded by their desire to corner the future they kill it! But as we have read, and here I mean you and I have read in the The New English Bible, published by Oxford, there was a time when Kings discovered economic lessons in their dreams. For instance the night the King dreamed he saw seven fat cows and seven skinny cows.
Gardener – Aside from eggs was the King trying to control cattle futures?
Writer – No, the King wasn’t thinking about those futures at all. But the King was interested in building monuments.
Gardener – Well that has to do with the future.
Writer – One night the King dreams that seven fat cows come up from the Nile, followed by seven starving cows and the starving cows eat the fat cows. The King wakes up in a sweat, then falls back to sleep. In a second dream, the King sees seven fat ears of corn and seven shriveled ears and the shriveled ears consume the fat ears.
Gardener – You’re talking about Pharaoh!
Writer – The Old Testament, Genesis, beginning at Verse 41. I knew you were following!
Gardener –There wasn’t any corn growing in Egypt, or any where else in the ancient world. The word “corn” must mean something else.
Writer – Does it matter?
Gardener – I thought as a wordsmith you‘d know that.
Writer – May I go on?
Gardener – I know where you’re going now. Pharaoh’s advisors were puzzled by these dreams too. So they called in Joseph.
Writer – At that time Joseph the Israelite is in jail because one of Pharaoh’s eunuchs,
Potiphar, who is Captain of the Guard, claimed Joseph had tried to rape his wife. We all know he’s innocent. But it’s an old familiar story that’s been used down through the years, sometimes justifiably, sometimes not. Until his downfall Joseph was an astute manager of Potiphar’s estate. Because of his ability to interpret data he’s brought before Pharaoh.
Gardener – John Galt!
Writer – He interprets Pharaoh’s dream. There will be seven years of good harvest in Egypt followed by seven years of drought. If Pharaoh is wise he’ll offer to buy the cattle and corn . . .
Gardener – I told you not corn.
Writer – The New English Bible says corn. See!
Gardener – They’re wrong. Corn is a new world plant. It wasn’t known in the old world until it was introduced by the Spanish during the Age of Discovery, 2800 years later. They probably mean a grain. Corn is probably an old English word for grain.
Writer – So much for the veracity of the translated Word! May I continue?
Gardener – Please. . .
Writer – Can I call it wheat?
Gardener – If experts can call it corn, you can call it wheat. At least that closer to the truth. In the meantime check out page 172 in Fauna And Flora Of The Bible published by the United Bibles Societies. I found it on your shelf!
Writer – If Pharaoh is wise he’ll make an offer to buy all futures in cattle and wheat for the next seven years. He can demand a good price, since he’ll provide a cash margin to convince the farmers and herders. This way Pharaoh gets cattle and wheat at a price he chooses and corners the market. When the seven hard years follow the seven prosperous years, Pharaoh will be in a position to sell cattle and wheat at a higher price to the people thus earning the Kingdom a large profit.
Gardener – Get out! That’s not the story. Joseph tells Pharaoh that consuming each year’s produce without saving for a rainy day isn’t sustainable. Actually it would be saving for a sunny day since rain in Egypt would be a good thing. Pharaoh does this for the good of the people.
Writer – I don’t dispute that. I’m just seeing the story through Pharaoh’s self interest. Why not feed the people when they have no food and at the same time make a little something for the Kingdom. Everyone’s happy.
Gardener – It will be a time of famine. People won’t be able to support themselves because their land is barren. He has inside information. Pharaoh needs to share this information with the public . . .
Writer – Remember the less said, the better. Also I’d prefer using the word “shareholder” or “customer,” wouldn’t you? It makes our discussion current, something our public will understand.
Gardener – What public! But I’ll agree to “shareholder” only if you broaden the word “share!” For the good of the people, Pharaoh must encourage everyone to save some of their own crops instead of selling it all to Pharaoh’s agents.
Writer – Remember Pharaoh is Egypt. The King and the Kingdom are one.
Gardener – We all have a stake in the egg because it’s our future! It’s our nest egg. What’s good for the egg is good for the Kingdom, and I don’t mean the King, I mean all the rest of us. The Kingdom is the people.
Writer – True, the Kingdom is made of many but the King is still considered the Kingdom. The King is “we” as in all of us. The envoys don’t introduce Pharaoh as Ramses. They say, “Egypt greets you.”
Gardener – So “to make our discussion current,” we can also say, Morgan Chase bought Washington Mutual.
Writer – Precisely! The King is the Kingdom and the Kingdom is composed of the people hence the King is also the People
Gardener – Can we then say that Morgan Chase is also the Investors?
Writer – Of course! Naturally the King is a figure head and not heads – we don’t say the King is heads of state but head of state. Since the King is Morgan Chase that makes the King not only the investor, but all the investors!
Gardener – What if King Morgan Chase invests in another kingdom, in the Kingdom of Enron, for example, and that Kingdom disappears like a ship at sea with everyone on board. King Morgan Chase is responsible, right, since the King and the King’s men didn’t see what the children saw, that King Enron was naked?
Writer – Theoretically speaking. While the King is actually one of the people, an investor in this case, the King is technically an artificial person,
Gardener – Which makes the King an artificial investor, in other words one that isn’t really taking the same risk as the real shareholders who’ve invested their life savings in the Kingdom or the real account holders who walk into the bank to deposit their real paychecks.
Writer – That’s true. And it would be hard to describe the King’s powerful CEO and Board as artificial. Indeed it’s difficult to separate a real person as powerful as Jamie Dimon from his artificial figure head, but technically JD is just one of the King’s reps.
Gardener – Who’s John Galt!
Writer – You’re right! Unbeknownst to the people of Egypt a stranger has become the King’s economic advisor.
Gardener – The man who interprets dreams!
Writer – Every time the economy goes from boom to bust we panic. We wait on the edge of our seats, wringing our hands. Reports of a brilliant idea crop up in the wastelands of every board room. Pundits with answers in bright lights appear on everyone’s TV screen then drop from sight like rotting fruit falling from a tree. The blog sphere radiates with virtual depth. Everyone is hoping to catch the camera’s eye. We can say anything we want and get away with it because it’s prime time and the best fairy tale wins.
Gardener – So Ayn Rand was right. During every crisis we look for a savior.
Writer – The man who can interpret dreams. Today our seers use graphs and spread sheets to predict trends. In ancient Rome they poked about inside the offerings on an altar. Nonetheless the outcome’s the same, a new interpretation of the same old story of what goes up must come down. The winds of media blow these brilliant new theories about the landscape. As we walk along deep in our troubled thoughts we find these curious seeds attached to our consciousness rooting. Ideas we can’t shake spell out cabals that support our suspicions: Big Government brought down the towers, Big Banks brought down the economy, Welfare brought down the taxpayer, Old Age brought down Medicare, and Social Security now orbits around our socialist state! No matter what we hear to the contrary, we shift all incoming data to fit the forecast sprouting from our unrest. Though the sun shines outside, a storm rages inside.
Gardener – I live by the seasons. I know when it’s cold and I know when it’s hot. I know when it rains and when it snows. When I come inside I find the air stuffy, the rooms too warm. The point is, no matter what the season, no matter what the weather I have to get out there and do my work or the job goes to hell, new trees die, the spring bedding thickens with weeds. There are no sick days for a gardener during the peak seasons. And did you ever hear a farmer tell his family, I’m tired today, I don’t think I’ll sow the grain or mow the hay today. I’m talking about the independent farmer, not one of the King’s farmers working on salary. The problem is that no matter how broken the economy we still have to go out and do our work. Only it gets harder. Harder to pay the bills, harder to buy equipment.
Writer – During the flush times we live well, but during poor times many of us fall by the wayside. We make do; we scrape by. As Adam Smith points out in Wealth Of Nations, Chapter VIII, Of Wages Of Labor, “The masters being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorizes, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. . . In all such disputes the masters can hold out longer. . . Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, scarce any a year without employment.” Has anything changed in the Kingdom since Adam Smith penned these words during the height of the Enlightenment? When pundits crab about the semantics of calling our neighbor who has a job and a house, the “near poor,” they forget that should one member of the neighbor’s family, the wife or the husband, or even one of the children living at home, lose their job then the whole precarious structure of family – that cherished word used by the Kings’ vassals – falls like a house of cards.
Gardener – Who’s John Galt!
Writer – Yet these vassals, our elected officials, tell us their Kings, for truly they’re not ours! can provide us with jobs! That’s why our tax money builds bridges and roads. To bring us to these Kings. It’s why trains and subways run from the suburbs and boroughs to the business center. When the Kings’ money is put to use to make these Kings more money, their vassals, our elected officials, tell us these capital gains won’t be taxed, because for some reason, as they reason, the labor that produced these profits was already taxed and shouldn’t be forwarded again to the investors! What folly! Even when we catch the Kings and all the Kings’ men pushing Humpty Dumpty, something that belongs to all of us, over the palace wall, our elected officials tell us it’s not the Kings’ fault the egg broke! “After all,” they say, “you and your neighbors shouldn’t have believed everything the Kings told you about buying the American dream on time. The Kings,” they tell us, “are ordinary citizens like you and me, albeit artificial citizens. Perhaps the Kings enjoy a good game of chance from time to time, after all, Kings will be Kings!” When we gather with our neighbors in public places and demand the return of Humpty Dumpty last seen being escorted by the Kings’ men to the palace wall, the Kings warn their vassals, our elected officials in Washington, “that government should be run like a business, but that government has no business meddling in business nor competing with business. Government in other words is there for business. If you try to regulate us,” they add, tugging on their purse strings, “we’ll kill employment.” The vassals shake. “Don’t worry,” they tell the Kings, salivating when they see the Kings’ money once more flowing into their election coffers, “we’ll eliminate regulations. And as a special bonus, we’ll cut the red tape. You can buy more kingdoms without oversight, sell drugs without testing and we’ll throw in off shore drilling!” When we, the people, cry “foul!” our elected officials remind us that patriotism begins at the cash register, not the voting booth. “You vote with your dollars. If you want to go on buying flat screen TVs and Computers and I-pods at cut rate prices on Black Friday, then stop worrying about your neighbor. It’s every neighbor for him or herself” “Our neighbor,” we ask, puzzled. “Because the Kings have found cheap labor overseas you can buy more for less. Think of the savings – plus you get coupons and credit card flyer miles!” “Forget about the flyer miles, what about our neighbor?” “You know who we mean,” reply the Kings’ vassals, pointing to those among us who are now behind in their mortgage payments. “If you know what’s good for you, stick to self-interest. Besides, as soon as we fire all state workers your neighbor can apply for one of our special government jobs cleaning your grandfather’s bed pan. So don’t join the chorus of do-gooders, plug in with your Pod and listen to the Kings’ Me-tunes. As you can see there’s nothing to worry about. We’re putting Humpty Dumpty back together again for a better tomorrow.”
Gardener – Only they can’t. There’s no Joseph, no John Galt, no superman to solve the big questions of the day.
Writer – Only the Gardener and the Writer and the rest of us occupying the margin!
Gardener – Ha!
Writer – The Kings’ vassals tell us that outsourcing government jobs saves the taxpayer ten dollars since the taxpayer had to pay the union worker twenty. When our neighbor applies to King Outsource for that government job cleaning the bedpans for old veterans, our neighbor is told he or she will be paid 10 dollars an hour which, according to the Kings and the Kings’ vassals, is now the fair market price for such work. “Who set the fair market price,” asks our neighbor, innocently. “The Market,” replies the King’s man reviewing #112’s application. “And what determines the market,” our neighbor asks stubbornly. “It’s based on supply and demand, one of the primary physical laws of the universe, second only to intelligent design,” replies the manager, growing testy. “It’s simple. When you’re needed we pay you more, but alas you saw what happened to Humpty Dumpty.” “I hear Humpty’s one of the disappeared,” our neighbor replies. “Well then, until we find out what happened to him, you can take this job or leave it.”
Gardener – Who is John Galt!
Writer – Later in a paper published by Murkydoc, an agent of the press, tapping the Kings’ phone lines, writes a sensational story about the whereabouts of the kidnapped Humpty. This story has a happy ending.
Gardener – Don’t tell me all the Kings’ men and all the Kings’ horses put Humpty Dumpty back together again?
Writer – Better than that. The Kings’ Ivy League university graduates, wearing pointed caps bearing stars and crescent moons. . .
Gardener – You mean the legal team?
Writer – Not exactly. More like specialists in creative writing, find written in Humpty’s scrambled remains the standards verifying the Kings’ market price. What the Kings and the vassals don’t tell us, the taxpayers, is that our elected officials, the Kings’ vassals are paying King Outsource the other ten dollars for supplying the Veterans Administration #112 to clean bed pans for old soldiers.
Gardener – Why would we pay a middle person like King Outsource to hire people we once hired directly through the VA?
Writer – That is the million dollar question in our land of make-believe. After all with twenty dollars our neighbor had the freedom to buy what he or she wanted.
Gardener – Within reason!
Writer – Not always, but more often than not, yes! Instead our neighbor with their four kids, a mortgaged house and bills to pay have become one of the Kings’ indentured servants. Many of these servants can no longer afford health insurance let alone the kind of health insurance the Kings’ vassals possess, one of the many perks and benefits of elected office.
Gardener – Perhaps our neighbor should run for elected office.
Writer – Not that the Kings’ vassals are without heart. Using our tax money they supply #112 with food stamps and Medicaid which leaves enough cash for #112 to buy a flat screen TV on Black Friday.
Gardener – I was going to suggest that my neighbor apply for a job at Bob’s Red Mill, but maybe making ten an hour with all these other perks is better.
Writer – Perhaps sitting on a sofa that’s seen better days, drinking cold beer while watching the Super Bowl is the peak pleasure our neighbor can expect from life but I believe our neighbor would prefer working where management respects the employees. The relationship between the managers and the employees might even help the company make a better product, an added bonus.
Gardener – Bob Moore and his wife Charlee didn’t set up the employee ownership program to enhance their public image.
Writer – You’re right. They don’t have to push the wagon before the horse. They don’t need the Kings’ creative writing team. We were buying Bob’s flours and grains long before we heard of the employee ownership program. But buying the product, now that we do know, makes it even more pleasurable. I like buying products from people who are invested in their own work. The Moores must feel the same thing, or they wouldn’t have conceived the plan.
Gardener – Too bad we’re not in the market for industrial carpets. Then we could be supporting Interface and Ray Anderson’s dream of an ecologically sustainable business.
Writer – But we can invest in Interface knowing that a customer buying this carpet is also contributing to a production process that isn’t using up non-renewal products like oil. Ray Anderson must have valued something other than his net worth. And Bob Moore doesn’t have to give millions to anonymous charities who are in charge of making our society a better place. He understands that the best way to help the nation is to value those you work with, those you live with and those who live around you. These aren’t the pieties preached by politicians, these are the verities many of us try to live by. It might even be in the best interests of a company to have employees who take an interest in each other. Such employees will not only make a better product but help improve production efficiency.
Gardener – And being the managers of the wealth they produce, they might be less likely to run up enormous debts.
Writer- I don’t know that. Like the Old Man said, give everyone the same amount of money, and it will all end up in the pockets of a few.

Footnotes:

The King didn’t know that the miller’s daughter couldn’t spin gold. TheGardenerReturnsPartFour

Remember in King Lear
Gardener Returns Four

to King Outsource
A Hidden Toll as States Shift to Contract Workers

the near poor
census-measures-those-not-quite-in-poverty-but-struggling

Bob’s Red Mill
The Gardener Returns, Part Four

Like the Old Man said, give everyone the same amount of money, and it will all end up in the pockets of a few.
WHERE THE WRITER INTRODUCES THE GARDENER TO THE ROCK PILE

THE GARDENER RETURNS, A DIALOGUE, PART FOUR

Gardener – No, no, no, we’ve lost sight of Adam Smith’s butcher, you know the butcher, the baker and the brewer. What’s become of them, of their self-interest?
Writer – Ahh yes, that butcher. It is comforting to think of our nation’s prosperity resting on his shoulders down on Main Street.
Gardener – Now that you’ve given up on John Galt.
Writer – I haven’t given up on JG completely. He’s not such a bad guy, you know. A little like Thomas Edison. Perhaps a tad too full of himself and a bit misguided with his faith in the power of the dollar sign. But once he settles down with Taggart and begins to raise a family he’ll realize as his children become teenagers that all the best laid plans for a prosperous world led by wizards like himself will falter around the family diner table. Kind of like waiting for Plato’s philosophers to guide us in utopia, and we all know what happened in Syracuse.
Gardener – I don’t know what you’re talking about!
Writer – In A History Of Greece, Chapter XV, Section 9, check out what J. B. Bury has to say about Plato’s visits to Syracuse. No, Main Street isn’t about superman but everyman. Naturally we benefit from the work of a genius, just the way we benefit from a rich man’s taxes or the economy benefits from his consumption of goods. But neither a genius, nor a rich man can compare to all the people combined. It might be less glamorous depending on a million citizens, who are either poor or middle class, buying key rings than a super star buying a gold ring; and it might be less impressive depending on the taxes from a million small paychecks to the single large million dollar check from a resentful billionaire; and it’s certainly not as clear hearing the collective voices of a million people, all with ideas of their own, than the occasional clarion voice of a genius, whose sudden appearance strikes us with awe; but in spite of appearances it’s the little people who make, move and consume the majority of goods and pay the most taxes that keep our economy running.
Gardener – Where would I be if the Youth had lost his way without strangers to guide him into the profession where he, that is me, finally made something of himself, that is, myself.
Writer – Oh great! What about me? The Youth wanted to be a writer, to be me! Can I help it if we possessed too many ideas and lacked certain useful skills.
Gardener – It doesn’t matter, you’re working now as you were when the Youth left. Just remember the Youth belongs to me too.
Writer – You’re right. He belongs to both of us.
Gardener – I mention him only because he would be among the many nameless people who are the majority seeking some kind of way to contribute to the universal good, and if we don’t listen to all these nameless folk, the nation . . .
Writer – The world!
Gardener – Yes the world, will not benefit from their potential contributions.
Writer- Well said, but let’s return from the grandiose to the everyday. Let’s imagine a summer morning, the elm trees along Main Street are in leaf. With deft hands stained with blood the butcher prepares Mrs. McGillicuddy’s pork chops. Next door the baker tells his two apprentices. . .
Gardener – Apprentices? When I was at Wave Hill we thought of using that word for our seasonal training positions, but we chose the word “intern” instead.
Writer – Alright, interns!
Gardener – Don’t get me wrong, we wanted to call them apprentices, but it seems that word reminded our fund raisers of manual labor. They wanted to elevate the novice gardeners to the level of doctors training in hospitals.
Writer – Labor unions would do well to encourage the training of young people going into the crafts.
Gardener – They do. You and I know a retired ironworker who teaches young people welding for New York Ironworkers locals apprenticeship program. I can’t believe you forgot.
Writer – Alright, let me finish! Where was I?
Gardener – The baker. . .
Writer – The baker tells the interns about the specials of the day. He’s tired. He wants to go home and sleep for a few hours. A few doors down the cobbler pounds away on the heel of an old shoe bringing it back to life.
Gardener – What cobbler?
Writer – Why, Main Street has to have a cobbler. You can’t forget the cobbler.
Gardener – Adam Smith talks about the brewer, not a cobbler.
Writer – We can infer that Smith included the cobbler. He takes the place of the brewer who has already moved on into folklore. Do you know any brewer’s on Main Street? We all know cobblers.
Gardener – You mean shoe repair person?
Writer – Yeah, shoe repair person but where’s the rusticity we need when speaking to our fellow Americans, that dreamy world where time has stopped and where these artisans on Main are doing their best to advance their personal interests while our mother . . .
Gardener – Don’t bring her into this! Adam Smith did not have her in mind!
Writer – How can I avoid bringing mom onto Main Street? Why I was just strolling down Main Street the other day. . .
Gardener – What in hell are you talking about? What main street?
Writer – Why the Main Street! “Main Street America” as the congressman from San Diego, Dare Say called it not long ago! As all the other representatives and senators and white house tenants and would-be tenants speak so fondly of, Main Street, USA! Isn’t that the name of every street in America? A street that threads it’s way through every home. That’s where we shop!
Gardener – Oh yeah, you mean the internet.
Writer – You’re getting way ahead of me. Don’t you remember mom taking the three kids down to Main Street? Those were the days! There’s Sussel the butcher, wiping his hands on his apron, leaning forward to hear mom’s question about the price per pound of a stewing chicken.
Gardener – I thought it was pork chops!
Writer – Why do you constantly interrupt me!
Gardener – You’re drifting through Currier and Ives. . .
Writer – The pork chops were for Mrs. McGillicuddy! Mom was looking for a chicken to stew.
Gardener – Forget I mentioned it!
Writer – So where was I, oh yes, from the baker, a dozen rolls, a baker’s dozen – white flour was a craze then.
Gardener – When’s then, 1860, 1890?
Writer – 1950s! It was a time when all of us down on Main Street were the unwitting but willing accomplices in the prosperity of the nation, each of us seeking out the better part of the bargain. . .
Gardener – Until the A&P bought out Sussel, the butcher, expanded his shop and started selling everything under one roof at bargain prices!
Writer – Sussel didn’t loose his job. He just started working for the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.
Gardener – Remember when the Youth and his girl moved to Geary and Chestnut in San Francisco in 1970?
Writer – Yeah, you mean the first time they ever shopped in a Safeway Supermarket.
Gardener – The aisles were at least ten feet across and the ceiling was as high as a cathedral. When they looked out the great picture windows by the cash registers the whole bay opened up, blue sky and blue water.
Writer – They’d never shopped in paradise before. A cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables. . .
Gardener – Artichokes from the artichoke center of the world, apricots and walnuts. . .
Writer – from the Imperial Valley seemed to spill onto the counters right before their eyes!
Gardener – Now days that’s nothing compared to Costco, where shoppers buy enough food to feed Washington’s army at Valley Forge!
Writer – Yes, and away we go, leaving Main Street for the shopping mall.
Gardener – And this is where the Internet Highway begins. Besides, all the elms on Main died of Dutch Elm disease.
Writer – Yes. The baker couldn’t pay his rent nor the room and board of his two
apprentices. . . interns. And the cobbler couldn’t feed his large family. The brewer, remember, gave up long ago because he couldn’t keep up with the mass production of the new pull-tab aluminum cans and closed shop.
Gardener – Thank god for today’s small independents, who’ve brought beer back from the brink!
Writers – That’s true. But these local independents aren’t the merchants or the manufacturers Adam Smith had in mind at the conclusion of Book I, Chapter XI entitled Rent Of Land. Nor are they property owners, like Congressman Dare Say from San Diego, who have always benefited from rising rents no matter what the state of the economy. They are closer to the wage earner, who depends on good times to prosper. In Smith’s time, the wage earner, whether working for a landowner as a farmer or a manufacturer as a laborer lived close to the subsistence level in good times and below it in bad times.
Gardener – Nothing’s changed.
Writer – During an economic downturn these merchants and manufacturers downsize, that is, they let people off or they lessen or eliminate the shareholders’ dividend or, as Congressman Dare Say’s company did, buy back shares at reduced rates from small investors before selling the company off at a better price to enhance their personal profit at the shareholder’s expense.
Gardener – It’s difficult seeing how a Congressman’s self-interest benefits the wealth of the nation.
Writer – For this reason Adam Smith adamantly states later on in Book IV, Chapter III, Part II of Wealth Of Nations and I quote him, “The capricious ambition of kings and ministers has not,” and I repeat, has not “ during the present and the preceding century,” – 1775 and Britain is about to lose its richest resource, the colonies – “been more fatal to the repose of Europe, than the impertinent jealousy of merchants and manufacturers. The violence and injustice of the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which, I am afraid the nature of human affairs can scarce admit of a remedy. But the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers, who neither are, nor ought to be,” and I repeat, neither are nor ought to be “the rulers of mankind, though it cannot perhaps be corrected, may very easily be prevented from disturbing the tranquility of any body but themselves.” 365
Gardener – And how can they easily be prevented?
Writer – Regulations.
Gardener – Regulate self-interest?
Writer – In The Marketplace of Revolution, T. H. Breen makes a case how the new consumer culture brought on by the incipient Industrial Revolution, run by the very people Adam Smith describes, united the American colonists long before they became politically adept and helped them realize that England’s wealth depended on their consumption of goods. Because the majority of people were always short on cash, a credit system developed to encourage the consumption of goods. It began with the manufacturer giving credit to the middle man who gave it to the shopkeeper who finally gave it to the farmer up on the Hudson River, a chain of dependence. Only England, not acknowledging how much they depended on this continually growing consumption of goods, decided to tax the colonists. But no benefits, such as better roads, were derived from these taxes, nor did the colonists have any say in England about the use of these taxes. So what did the colonists do? Did they put tricorne hats on and shout for smaller government? Did they sit in parks calling for an end to Wall Street Greed? No, the weapon used by half the colonists to counter taxation without representation was to boycott the goods. This lead to the eventual revolution. Today we feel just as the early colonist felt, that it’s our inalienable rights to consume goods. But unlike the colonists who were new to factory made goods, we’ve been nurtured to buy stuff! When we say “don’t tread on me” we mean don’t tax me, because we’d rather have the freedom to use our tax money to buy a new TV or a sit-down lawnmower. Corporations couldn’t be happier. They tell their customers that if the government tries to regulate big business, people will lose their jobs and people will have to pay higher prices for their TVs and lawnmowers. And to help their proxies in government understand this, the Corporations use their gold to broadcast a message to one and all throughout the Kingdom of Capitalism. “People, you must take up your revolutionary cudgels again, tempered in the fires of the market place and boycott big government.” Naturally our elected leaders quake with fear and are quick to hand the government over to the Corporations making them King of the land. But King Corporation also has a generous heart. In return for following orders the King offers gold and pretty women and a round of golf on a Scottish Golf course to those congressional leaders who go forth and struggle against the socialist infidels who would smother capitalism under the stifling blanket of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Gardener – So no one regulates the King’s self-interest! King Corporation gets more gold and the miller’s daughter to boot!
Writer – You forget that the King and his vassals in government believe the King as well as all the vassals can self-regulate their own self-interest!
Gardener – Of course a good king will act in the best interests of his people, a bad king will act for himself.
Writer – The King knows what it wants. The King wants more gold to rule it’s world through fear and entertainment. John Galt saw that.
Gardener – But destroying Rumpelstiltskin was not in the King’s best-interest.
Writer – Nor in the best interest of his ministers in Congress. At the time it didn’t matter to the King how the miller’s daughter filled each room full of gold! Whether she ran a sweat shop of spinners or contracted a third world nation in Africa to produce the gold at any human cost. The King knew what it wanted and didn’t care how it got it.
Gardener – And whatever the King says our ministers in Congress nod their heads like bobble head dolls, believing every word.
Writer – But look at us, we too nod our heads out here in TV land, our ears plugged with sounds, our eyes glued to images on sets. When the King says we brought you the I-phone, we all babble, me, me, me.
Gardener – I wonder if the Queen ever came clean?
Writer – She didn’t have to. Because the King always knows what it wants and never questions that and the ministers never do their homework by checking up on the King or the Queen
Gardener – But we get hurt!
Writer – What happens when King Lear wants early retirement but finds the administrators of his security more interested in themselves than in him?
Gardener – I assume the King created security by fostering a healthy economy. . .
Writer – But the King’s vanity sows division and castes the nation into a civil war.
Gardener – Where innocent people die.
Writer – And when the energy Czar of Endrun hires Harvard geniuses without practical experience to administer the empire with their marvelous tall-tale bookkeeping?
Gardener – Innocent people lose their life savings.
Writer – Do we mention the fiefdom of Standard Poor who provided its liege of Endrun such high ratings before the paper tiger imploded?
Gardener – They saw what they wanted to see, like all the adults who couldn’t see the King was naked! To see the truth we need the eyes of a child!
Writer – What about the emperor Murkydoc and his son, the heir apparent, who rule their worldly kingdom of news with an iron fist then plead the impossibility of knowing what is being done in their name?
Gardener – We must guard our phones, guard our computers from their illegal intrusions.
Writer – And what about the kingdom of banks, the Sacking of Mensgold trying to squeeze the last dime out of the chimmering real estate market which they’ve insured against their inevitable holdings of worthless subprime papers?
Gardener – We, the people at the bottom of their pile of worthless paper, bailed them out! And what did we get in return?
Writer – The Great Recession.
Gardener – If these are the only models of success that King Corporation can follow then I’m taking my self-interest back to the garden before the season ends so I can do what I do best and that’s working alone!
Writer – You can’t hide from people. Beside there are dozens of economic models out there in the business world that differ from the King’s prevailing economic view that self-interest means attaining wealth, as practiced by its many CEOs. According to the King, who knows best what it wants, if we all should strive to be as wealthy as the King’s ministers and vassals, the economy will continue to grow ad infinitum, with only, as the King’s pundits crow, an occasional necessary adjustment. This of course is neither possible, nor desirable. Take Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods.
Gardener – We buy Red Mill flour!
Writer – Bob Moore and his wife Charlee, are the founders and part owners of a company that makes and distributes Bob’s Red Mill flours and grains, both organic and conventional. The company is over thirty years old with yearly revenues of more than 24 million dollars. Moore admits that Red Mill has had plenty of buyout offers. “. . . I had a choice. . .” is the way he put it in OregonLive.com, when asked about the future of the company. “But in my heart, I didn’t. These people,” referring to the company employees, “are far too good at their jobs for me to just sell it.” So he developed a plan with his partners by which the vested workers become the eventual owners of the company.
Gardener – Imagine that. And they said it couldn’t be done in the name of capitalism!
Writer – Yeah, so it’s easy to see how we support these manufacturing and ethical practices when we buy their goods. But how do we support a company that sells wall to wall industrial carpets we’ve never had the need to buy? In the case of Interface Global, the company founded by Ray Anderson, we have an example, beyond our personal economic reach, of a company with a global vision of using only renewable resources, something that benefits all of us. Somewhere during his tenure Anderson developed a strong belief in corporate responsibility not just to its clients or shareholders but to the environment which sustains all of us, neighbors and strangers. As a result he set out to change his company’s reliance on non sustainable ingredients derived from oil, with all its negative by-products for workers and strangers. He is quoted in Ray’s Legacy at Interface.com “ I wanted Interface, a company so oil-intensive you could think of it as an extension of the petrochemical industry, to be the first enterprise in history to become truly sustainable—to shut down the smokestacks, close off its effluent pipes, to do no harm to the environment and take nothing not easily renewed by the earth.”
Gardener – He takes self-interest to a new level.
Writer – We don’t buy industrial carpets, so we are the strangers who benefit from Anderson’s moral point of view. There’s no reciprocation.
Gardener – Well I congratulate the efforts of these two companies. But few set the tone where self-interest can be translated into a moral and ethical paradigm that improves the health and wealth of the entire world. These two examples sound like fairy tales.
Writer – These two examples prove that it can be done. No matter what the system – even one that establishes the mean where personal gratification is norm – many of us will work to improve the environment and the lives of those around us without expecting a material return.
Gardener – Like the person who stops to pick up the broken glass on the sidewalk instead of saying, “that’s not my job.”
Writer – Or like the person who doesn’t expect the soldiers who are working under him to do something he or she has never done him or herself, saying “I’m too important to fight.”
Gardener – Like the hawk, VP Chintzy, who claimed he was too important to be drafted into the Vietnam War.
Writer – We don’t expect others to do all the dirty work, because we’ve established a personal standard of what is good and what is right. We interpret self-interest as something that must satisfy this personal standard.
Gardener – You sound like that accountant who retired from the Long Island Railroad without beefing up his pension by faking a disability.
Writer – You mean Mr. Kueffner.
Gardener – Yeah, Mr. Kueffner. What was in it for him playing it ethically straight?
Writer – When Kueffner was asked why he didn’t take disability like everybody, he said: “I didn’t have a disability. . . I was doing a job that people do everywhere. I worked at a desk and I retired in good shape.”
Gardener – I think he is remarkable, because his moral gyroscope kept him balanced while working inside a permissive society. He knows the difference between right and wrong and that wrong has ramification somewhere down the line, whether it’s the honey pot running dry for younger generations or getting caught like Pooh Bear with his head stuck inside the pot.
Writer – I’ve never thought of Pooh Bear being greedy. In Winnie The Pooh A. A. Milne describes what Pooh experiences one day when he is taking a honey jar to his despondent friend, Eeyore for his birthday. “. . . a sort of funny feeling began to creep all over him. It began at the tip of his nose and trickled all through him and out at the soles of his feet. It was just as if somebody inside him were saying, “Now then, Pooh, time for a little something.” Tell me if that doesn’t describe me in a bookstore in front of an interesting book or you in a nursery among beautiful plants. It would be in our best-interests to not spend precious cash on yet another book I won’t be able to read in the next three years nor more specimens, no matter how unusual, which you’ll have to plant and water in addition to your already full list of chores.
Gardener – But Pooh always finds an excuse to look inside the jar and then it’s too late, he forgets himself and the next thing he realizes he’s eaten all the honey.
Writer – Not quite. There’s always a little bit at the bottom of the jar and that’s how he gets his head stuck in the jar!

END PART FOUR

Meta Description:

The Writer and the Gardener meet the unemployed butcher and baker and cobbler down on Main Street, where self-interest introduces the to King Corporation, then gives them a glimpse of the power of the consumer before taking them to the edge of the Kingdom of Capitalism where they find Pooh bear stumbling about, his head stuck inside the honey jar.

Footnotes:

New York Ironworkers locals apprenticeship program
http://www.nycironworkers.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=2

Congressman Dare Say

King Corporation gets more gold and the miller’s daughter to boot!
THE GARDENER RETURN, A DIALOGUE, PART THREE

Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods. (http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2010/02/bobs_red_mill_natural_foods_ro.html

Interface Global, founded by Ray Anderson
http://www.interfaceglobal.com/

The Long Island Railroad pension/disability scandal

Adam Smith, Wealth Of Nations,
http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smWN1.html

THE GARDENER RETURNS, A DIALOGUE, PART THREE

Gardener – Harry Potter and John Galt? Isn’t that like apples and apricots?
Writer – The expression is apples and oranges.
Gardener – Whatever.
Writer – Ah, it’s good to be back.
Gardener – Yeah I thought I lost you there. So how can you compare them?
Writer – Compare what?
Gardener – Potter and Galt. You’ve never read Harry Potter!
Writer – But I finished Atlas Shrugged.
Gardener – Maybe you’re not back.
Writer – And I did see a Harry Potter movie.
Gardener – I don’t believe this! The Writer saw the movie but didn’t read the book!
Writer – It happens all the time. Think of all the movies we’ve seen without ever having read the original novels. But that’s not to say I won’t read a Harry Potter book. So many adults were reading J. K Rowling’s children’s books it turned me off. The escalation of the Potter myth through media and merchandise overwhelmed me. I tend to resist popular mercantile movements.
Gardener – Don’t I know it! But our wife, the English teacher and school librarian, says the Harry Potter books are well written.
Writer – And from what I’ve seen – seen, mind you, in a movie – Rowling’s imagination is vivid and without boundaries. She plucks imagery from every corner of mythology – the basilisk and the phoenix were crucial in the film I saw – then adds to her sauce concepts of her own making like muggles. . . although I wonder if she knows the Oxford Dictionary definition of muggle which is an old reference to marijuana? I doubt it since that would make the majority of us muggles potheads!
Gardener – Why anything? This is why. . .
Writer – Do you think we could find a corollary between Rand’s commoners and Rowling’s muggles? That would make the uncommoners magic folk. Dumbledore and Galt!
Gardener – This is why you never get anything written, every word’s a rabbit hole.
Writer – A writer wants to get the most out of a word. A writer of her intelligence wouldn’t forego such a link. I wonder if she drew Potter from Beatrix Potter, the creator of another microcosm.
Gardener – Stop it. We’ll never reach the end if we go on like this.
Writer – As if you don’t try getting the most visual impact out of each planting site!
Gardener – The way Lloyd did and Garret does at Great Dixter.
Writer – What disappointed our wife, the school librarian, was not Rowling’s craftsmanship but the publisher’s book bindings. The hardback books she ordered for the school library lasted two readings, before they unraveled and the kids began loosing the pages. She considered that too costly for a small school!
Gardener – For any school. Is that what you mean by the Harry Potter of Capitalism?
Writer – Isn’t money a kind of broom stick?
Gardener – Forget I asked.
Writer – Unless you work at controlling it you can’t ever get it to work for you. At James Taggert’s wedding party I heard Francisco d’Anconia’s effective sermon in response to the comment, “money is the root of all evil.”
Gardener – Keith Stuart, Keith Stuart, Keith . . .
Writer – I’m perfectly fine. I disliked the intellectuals in Atlas since they’re stupid and vain, preaching love while espousing an existential relativity. D’Anconia, like Dagny Taggart, was born into a wealthy family of industrialists. But unlike many of the industrials portrayed in Atlas he isn’t afraid of hard work. He describes money, and I quote him here from Part II, chapter II of Atlas Shrugged, as “a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them.” In other words one can’t enjoy the things money can buy unless someone is making them.
Gardener – “Them” meaning book bindings.
Writer – In a limited sense. It’s in our self interest to go out and make things to the best of our ability so we can earn the capital to buy the things we want.
Gardener – We’ve been through this before. Adam Smith says same thing in Wealth Of Nations?
Writer – It’s quintessential Adam Smith. In that oft quoted section on the butcher, the brewer and the baker in Chapter II on the Division of Labor, he writes: “We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” Galt incorporates this line into his philosophy almost verbatim. But here’s the difficulty. Since humanity refers to all humans and self-love to a single member of humanity, at what point does self love, the avocation of the individual and the possible by-products of this independence, like creativity, become dangerous to the species. When does accumulation of wealth become more important than product, in other words, counter-productive? Smith addresses this, but not Galt.
Gardener – As when people with capital. . .
Writer – Investors.
Gardener – We’re all investors, we all have 401ks or the equivalent, willingly. . .
Writer – And unwittingly – as in all of us.
Gardener – Invest in combinations far removed from the original investment in a house or a factory. . .
Writer – Derivatives.
Gardener – Not knowing nor caring where our saving are invested, just to make more money.
Writer – Which brings us back to Bertie Scudder, the insipid intellectual, I heard at the party.
Gardener – Please, don’t say you heard him.
Writer – Oh yes, I heard him say, “money is the root of all evil,” by which we can infer, that he believes self-interest is greed. Why are you looking at me like that?
Gardener – You heard him say that?
Writer – Figuratively speaking.
Gardener – You did the same with Adam Smith.
Writer – Yes, I heard him too!
Gardener – Translate self-interest into greed.
Writer – I did?
Gardener – On the first reading of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
Writer –But a second reading set me straight. Smith describes self-interest as beneficial to society. But as we discovered he believes that labor and management must advocate for their own self-interest. A nation thrives on the debate. When the nation gives way to pureline policies, it will eventually fail.
Gardener – But why did you unconsciously edit the text? Why did you replace self-interest or profit with “greed”?
Writer – I don’t know. The Oxford dictionary defines greed as an “intense or inordinate longing, especially for wealth or food, avarice, covetous desire.” In other words greed can lead us in the opposite direction of self-interest.
Gardener – As it did King Midas, who was by the way a rosarian.
Writer – We don’t know he was a rosarian!
Gardener – Herodotus says so.
Writer – Herodotus mentions the Gardens of Midas in The Persian Wars, Book VIII, chapter 38. He doesn’t say Midas was a gardener!
Gardener – You told me there were sweet roses with sixty petals a piece from which I gather that somebody was doing some hybridizing. Perhaps Midas wasn’t simply starving to death for lack of food which he couldn’t eat since food turned to gold on his tongue but was also starving aesthetically when the roses he touched lost their beautiful color and sweet redolence, that is, their value as roses.
Writer – Nicely said, gardener! One of the heroes in Atlas Shrugged is a banker by the name of Midas Mulligan.
Gardener – I suppose you heard him too!
Writer – Just the way you heard voices in the garden. Like many of the super heroes Mulligan openly appropriates the word used disparagingly by people to describe him. Rand is always torquing myths, which I like even if I don’t always agree with the results. King Midas learned from his experience that turning everything into gold had its down side. I think Midas Mulligan misses that point.
Gardener – What about the miller’s daughter?
Writer – The miller’s daughter?
Gardener – In Rumpelstiltskin.
Writer – According to the Grimm’s fairy tale, the miller is poor and needs to petition the king. It’s not enough that his daughter is beautiful. He also lies, says she can spin straw into gold.
Gardener – The king, used to getting what he wants, locks her up in a room with a spinning wheel and a pile of straw and tells her if she doesn’t turn the straw to gold by morning she’ll die.
Writer – So there she sits, sobbing, because her father wants to get in good with a king who wants more gold.
Gardener – That’s when the strange, little man appears.
Writer – And he’s the one who can spin straw into gold, not the miller’s daughter.
Gardener – I know that! That’s Rumpelstiltskin.
Writer – You said, “what about the miller’s daughter,” as if. . .
Gardener – It’s implied she can do what Midas did, make gold out of something common.
Writer – You’re losing me
Gardener – The little man will only help her if she gives him something in return.
Writer – Usually the man with that kind of power simply wants to use the woman. The Grimm brothers had a lot to say about the miller’s daughter in their scholarly work The German Legends.
Gardener – But this is a fairy tale. What can you give me in exchange for spinning gold, he asks her.
Writer – It can hardly be called a deal. She’s desperate. It’s more like leverage.
Gardener – A deal’s a deal. She gives him her necklace and he spins straw into gold thread. Next morning the king sees that the miller was right.
Writer – Yeah, but he’s not satisfied. He wants more.
Gardener – Why not, he has a woman who can spin gold out of straw.
Writer – He assumes she can do that!
Gardener – Nonetheless he locks her in a larger room full of straw for another night.
Writer – And the little man returns.
Gardener – He’s like a child, not someone executing arbitrage. He wants to make another deal. This time she gives him her ring and he goes to work.
Writer – But the king is besotted with desire for more. He locks her in an even larger room full of straw for the third night, promising her he’ll marry her if she spins it all into gold.
Gardener – The problem is she has nothing to offer the little man in return. But he tells her that when she’s queen, she can give him her first born child in exchange for his services.
Writer – In other words she’ll buy his services on time.
Gardener – Precisely. She realizes there is no future without her producing a room full of gold, so she agrees. What does it matter? She’s out on the limb as she can go. It’s life or death.
Writer – The manikin’s betting on her becoming queen and having a child.
Gardener – He may be spinning gold for nothing.
Writer –More likely he’s hedged his chances through clairvoyant means.
Gardener – No, it’s double or nothing. We can’t prove he had inside knowledge. He’s like a child who isn’t afraid of the future.
Writer – Or simply lives in the present. Nevertheless when the king sees the gold he’s made. . .
Gardener – She’s made!
Writer – He’s ecstatic. He marries the golden girl. By all accounts, everyone is happy.
Gardener – Which bring to mind the Stockholm syndrome.
Writer – An interesting point. Anyway the king has his gold and a beautiful wife and the miller is now the king’s father-in-law and his daughter’s the queen.
Gardener – But not through her own connivance! She’s a victim.
Writer – She’s the queen!
Gardener – The day comes when she gives birth to a beautiful baby girl. Now her little man in shinning armor returns.
Writer – He’s not prince charming. This is not that kind of story. After all, she’s married to the king.
Gardener – But the little man is the producer of her wealth and he expects to be paid for his efforts.
Writer – So you agree! Rumpelstiltskin made the gold.
Gardener – No, she produced the gold the same way the CEO of GM produces cars.
Writer – Clever. No doubt she cries piteously.
Gardener – Her tears brought the little man to her aid in the first place.
Writer – She’s discovered that her daughter is more valuable than her own life, is more valuable than all the gold the little man produced for the king.
Gardener – No, he produced it for her! But the little man is not without heart.
Writer – You meaning feeling. A fatal flaw according to John Galt.
Gardener – He was never after gold since he could produce it so easily. He pitied her.
Writer – Maybe he’s a dirty old man who likes children.
Gardener – No, you’re a dirty old man!
Writer – Not me!
Gardener – Nine months ago when her life was on the limb he came through for her. But a deal’s a deal and now she must pay up or continue the game.
Writer – You’re twisting the story the way Ragnar Danneskjold, in Part II, Chapter VII, twisted the tale of Robin Hood that night he met Reardon on Edgewood Road.
Gardener – The little man offers her a way out, not an easy one but at least another opportunity to get something for nothing.
Writer – Now it’s a game of jeopardy.
Gardener – He tells her that she can keep her child if in three days she can guess his name. He gains nothing from this extension on his loan. He doesn’t take out an insurance policy against the possible loss. He could lose everything.
Writer – You’re right, because now she is the queen with all the services of the government at her disposal. By agreeing to this derivative, which has little to do with the original exchange, she buys more time. Using the king’s agents she scours the kingdom for clues. But by the end of the second day she’s not discovered it. The little man is ecstatic.
Gardener – He’s enjoying the contest. He could have blackmailed her. After all she doesn’t have the golden touch. He does! She’s queen because he worked three long nights spinning rooms’ full of straw into gold. For him it was producing what he promised in exchange for something he valued. It has nothing to do with depriving her of her child but of negotiating a settlement to which she had agreed.
Writer – We know the ending. He over played his hand.
Gardener – On the last night before the game is up, a queen’s agent is wandering through the woods and sees a light among the trees. Inside a small cottage where a fire is roaring, the little man is dancing happily around the room singing a song wherein the final lyric reveals his name.
Writer – Next day the queen confidently plays with the little man, pretending to guess his name in vain until at last she says, perhaps it’s Rumpelstiltskin.
Gardener – He’s shocked. In his innocence he handed her the power to steal his identity.
Writer –It was a matter of life and death for her, just a game for him.
Gardener – In his frustration he dances furiously an augur until the ground gives way and he disappears.
Writer – Now what about the miller’s daughter?
Gardener – Did she, like Midas, learn from the little man’s power to turn straw into gold?
Writer – Assuming that she was the unwitting victim of her father’s foolish ambitions and the king’s greed she has learned about survival.
Gardener – So the manikin is the loser.
Writer – He was a fool.
Gardener – He was innocent, offering the miller’s daughter ample opportunity to redeem her debt. He saved her from death. He didn’t rig the system, which he could have, having that kind of power to prevent personal loss.
Writer – Galt would say Rumple, being a producer of wealth is sacrificed to the moochers and the looters. Like King Lear he foolishly gives away his power.
Gardener – King Lear? That’s not a fairy tale.
Writer – Lear gives away his kingdom to his daughters in exchange for avowals of love.
Gardener – King Lear produces nothing; Rumpelstiltskin produces gold.
Writer – Lear, as king, is supposed to secure prosperity for all the people in the nation. Perhaps Lear’s honest daughter, Cordelia, is the real fool, telling the truth rather than telling the old man what he wants to hear.
Gardener – You’re blaming Cordelia?
Writer – The result of her honesty is civil war. Innocent people are killed!
Gardener – She’s a victim of the king’s pride.
Writer – Her honesty is detrimental to her self-interest. Only a fool would tell the king, her father, what he obviously doesn’t want to hear.
Gardener – Then everyone’s a fool! The king’s a fool because he gives away the kingdom to those who obviously lie. Cordelia’s a fool because she tells the king what he obviously doesn’t want to hear, and her two sisters, Goneril and Regan are fools because, at the height of their power, they fall in love with an obvious conniver, Edmond.
Writer- You have to admit it would make a great soap opera on day time TV. Shakespeare for the masses.
Gardener – Only at first Goneril and Regan are no more conniving than the miller’s daughter. They simply tell their father, the king, what he wants to hear.
Writer – You can’t compare the king’s two daughters with the miller’s daughter.
Gardener – Absolutely not, because one is Shakespeare and the other a fairy tale.
Writer – It would seem Goneril and Regan at first act according to their self interest, then foolishly against it. Which proves your point that we’re all fools.
Gardener – No, no, I didn’t mean it in that universal way. I don’t believe everyone’s a fool, not in real life. There are those who pretend to be fools to survive in a world of fools.
Writer – Ah like the professional Fool, who accompanies the king, and Edgar, the legal son of the king’s advisor, Earl of Gloucester.
Gardener – And some of us who are just gullible.
Writer – Gulliver?
Gardener – Gullible, like Edgar, the legal son of the King’s advisor. Gullible Ed believes his half brother Edmond’s stories and flees the imagined wrath of his father, the Earl of Gloucester.
Writer – Then it seems everybody’s gullible from the king who believes his two lying daughters right down through the governing body. The Earl believes the stories his bastard son, Edmond tells him of his legal son, Edgar.
Gardener – Not everybody. Cordelia, the king’s Fool and the bastard, Edmond are not gullible.
Writer – Then how can Edgar, who pretends to be a fool, be gullible? Pretense would indicate craft which seems to me to require intelligence, something I wouldn’t expect from a gullible nature.
Gardener – Anyone can be blind to the truth. Take the gardener who wants to grow plants culturally unsuitable to his garden environment. He wants roses even though he lives in shade. Or he wants a lawn although he lives in the desert. It happens all the time.
Writer – Adam Smith, in Book IV, Chapter II of Wealth of Nations, describes a good wine made from grapes grown in hot houses in Scotland “at about thirty times the expense for which at least equally good can be brought from foreign countries;” but he states emphatically it wouldn’t justify a tariff preventing the import of those wines. In other words, it would be foolish.
Gardener – True, but if someone with a keen idea of what he or she wants was to promote the idea, through advertisements, to those of us who don’t have a vested interest, it’s possible to convince anyone that such wine is worth every penny.
Writer – Not if you have to pay for it with half your wages.
Gardener – Isn’t that why we have credit? During the Dutch Golden Age, a single tulip bulb could be bought on a fortune of promissory notes.
Writer – The blindfold that shimmers like a billfold.
Gardener – We are willingly duped.
Writer – I assume our leaders in government, who don’t believe in taxing the wealthy, expect the wealthy will buy expensive wines to sustain the economy.
Gardener – Or tulip bulbs!
Writer – So blind Edgar was the willing if unwitting victim of brother Edmond’s plot to get rid of him. . .
Gardener – As was Gloucester, his father, who is blinded by Regan, one of the King’s evil daughters.
Writer – Yes, but Cordelia who can see the value of words, knowingly steps into her father’s unwitting trap since he had no design to get rid of her. As I said before it wasn’t in Cordelia’s self interest to tell the truth.
Gardener – But is it to Edmond’s advantage to lie since he too dies in the end when Edgar the Vindicated returns?
Writer – Which way to turn! We’ve come to a conundrum.
Gardener – And we’ve lost sight of the butcher, the baker and the brewer?
Writer – I don’t recall a butcher, much less a baker and a brewer in King Lear?

Meta Description:

The Writer and the Gardener find common threads linking Atlas Shrugged, vis-à-vis the effects of self-love on the human race, to the Harry Potter books, the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale and King Lear, the play.

Footnotes:

Keith Stuart, Trustee of the Toolroom
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trustee_from_the_Toolroom

We’ve been this way before.
I:1 WHERE THE GARDENER FAILS TO MOLLIFY THE WRITER WHO DECRIES THE NOTORIOUS PURE LINE DISCOVERED BY THE YOUTH IN HIS BALLAD OF THE BANKBOOK

Adam Smith, Wealth Of Nations, Division of Labor, Chap II
http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smWN1.html

Stockholm Syndrome
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

THE GARDENER RETURNS, A DIALOGUE, PART TWO

Gardener – Mr. Tompkins! What does he have to do with this?
Writer – Absolutely nothing. That’s my point.
Gardener – What is your point?
Writer – Gamow is talking theory.
Gardener – George Gamow, the physicist?
Writer – In fact the original Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland which the Youth read after hearing the Cosmic Evolution lecture series at the San Francisco Exploratorium, was rewritten a little more than a decade ago by Russell Stannard, with many chapters completely altered, since new theory made old theory obsolete. Science depends on a shimmering hypothesis. It’s not dependable. And the data is open to interpretation, like history and fiction, although in these cases a hypothesis might be called a premise. That’s why no one agrees on climate change.
Gardener – I can’t see why anyone denies the possibility that increased fuel emissions from cars during the past century and from factories since the birth of the Industrial Revolution along with the loss of forests world wide causes climate change? The combination has to effect something! Sticking one’s head in the sand isn’t a good prerogative.
Writer – Why does the conclusion have to be negative? The Earth has heated up and cooled off before. It could be a cycle.
Gardener – We are not moles digging blindly through the earth unaware that the ground above could cave in. We can imagine the possible ramifications of our activities. Why not view the data as an opportunity to retool the machine and create a better product. While your political geniuses clamor to cap the debt to ensure our children a debt free future, they claim that regulating fuel emissions hurts business and employment today and should be abandoned. The only immediate gain is financial.
Writer – It’s human nature to preserve one’s own interests. Remember what Adam Smith said!
Gardener – I can’t believe how you’ve changed. You forgot that he also said that one group’s self-interest can be detrimental to another. Therefore it’s important that all participating groups protect their own interest. And this is why the elected representatives of government must mediate through law.
Writer – I recall something like that, but Adam Smith also said that the business person knows what he or she wants, he or she wants to make money. Yes, he said that too! Since then I’ve learned that the only objective mind is the business mind. Making money is practical.
Gardener – And so is working with one’s hands.
Writer – Please, don’t interrupted me with you emotional concerns! All I wanted to say before was that Galt, unlike Gamow, is practical.
Gardener –You’re comparing a real physicist with a character in a novel? Mr. Tompkins would be more appropriate.
Writer – Mr. Tompkins is no more real than Alice in Wonderland. But anyone of us could be Galt. I mean that’s impossible too, for most of us, but we can strive for that ideal.
Gardener – But aren’t we all Mr. Tompkins, the everyday man.
Writer – I don’t want to be a Tompkins pulled hither and thither by the forces of nature. I want to be Galt, two feet placed firmly on terra cognita, an action hero!
Gardener – Earlier you told me he was the most boring character in the book, all talk, no action.
Writer – That’s true. The real action hero in the book turns out to be a philosopher.
Gardener – You’re crazy! And that must make me just as crazy.
Writer – You’re deluded, that’s all. So was I. This philosopher, Ragnar Danneskjold was a student of Professor Hugh Akston, the Hugh Akston of Patrick Henry University. Ragnar puts aside his studies in Aristotle and becomes a renegade who sinks all the cargo ships belonging to the moochers.
Gardener – A terrorist.
Writer – Well, he’d consider big government, the friend of incompetents, the terrorist. But he’s not a renegade like the Robin Hood our Youth knew, the popular hero with his merry band helping the needy. I’ve since learned that he was a bandito for the freeloaders, who were needy because they didn’t want to work. . .
Gardener – Why did I come in?
Writer – They expect the hard working suckers to support them.
Gardener – You mean the Sherriff of Nottingham is protecting the hard working sucker?
Writer – Well, you have to admit, it’s an interesting idea. But we’re wasting time here. The heroine was warned, just the way I‘m warning you. The moochers and the looters will take your hard work in the garden and use it to their own advantage. Don’t you resent that?
Gardener – Resent what?
Writer – Being used!
Gardener – Besides one or two bad apples. . .
Writer – Do you know what a bad apple looks like?
Gardener – Anyone can be a bad apple.
Writer – Absolutely not! You know an incompetent moocher when you see one by their dull, watery eyes.
Gardener – And the heroes by their clear, sharp eyes.
Writer – Yes! So you’ve heard the voices too!
Gardener – Yes, I’ve been hearing them, that’s why I came in!
Writer – I knew it!
Gardener – But I was safer out there.
Writer – Listen to them. As long as there are freeloaders, your hard work is for nothing.
Gardener – The search for Eden is hopeless!
Writer –It hurts at first, but resistance is useless. They exposed my old wounds, wounds I forgot I even had, wounds received back in the early days of the Youth.
Gardener – I’ve been seeking a place in a landscape the Youth once passed through. Sometimes I see it in the light falling through the trees or when a small leaf grows in front of a larger one in contrast. Is it the shadow it throws that kindles some inner reception? Or is it a scent that leads me back in a flash as I ricochet through the creative process. I know I can’t find this childhood place but it’s important I keep trying because this creation will be your garden of Eden as well as mine.
Writer – Give up the work. The freeloaders will sacrifice you to their own ends.
Gardener – I was always under the impression that we were expulsed from the Garden because of our own inadequacies. A vanity on the part of one, a gullibility on the part of the other. Recently after an hour of working in the garden this anger creeps into my hands. They become like stone. I hear someone saying, why bother.
Writer – Yes, why bother!
Gardener – It’s just a voice. I don’t see anyone. I hear it again. This time the voice whispers, who cares.
Writer – No one! That’s just the point.
Gardener – I shrug it off. I go on weeding, pruning, my dream of Eden once more in my hands, but little by little new voices begin clamoring.
Writer – That’s them. They are relentless!
Gardener – They sound like my neighbors, only I know that can’t be true because I’m in the garden all alone. I’m always alone. But I can hear them whispering. We don’t want your arboretum. It’s not mine, I reply. We want a bench! We want to sit and read. That’s reasonable, I reply. I don’t want to read, someone shouts. I want to listen to my radio! Yeah, and I want to use my cell phone! They all start shouting at once. We have our rights! Yeah, we pay maintenance, too! I quite them. I hear the birds again, but then along they come again, words with feet. Why are you cutting down the old Mulberries? Don’t you like trees? They’re old, they will fall, I explain. So what? Let them fall, that’s nature. Yes, kids need trees to climb, the way I did when I was a boy! A little girl cries, don’t hurt the trees, they have rights, too.
Writer – What little girl?
Gardener – I don’t know, it’s all in my head.
Writer – In your head?
Gardener – I want to hide. This time new words fill the air, new faces appear.
Writer – You see faces too?
Gardener – I see them in my head.
Writer – In your head?
Gardener – But they’re people I know, real people.
Writer – John Galt’s enemies!
Gardener – No, not John Galt’s enemies, just shareholders, like you and me, that’s all.
Writer – But they’re crowding around you!
Gardener – Yes. They say I’m planting a forest! A garden needs structure, I tell them, to look as good in winter as in summer. Green shrubs, how boring! I struggle to explain how in winter, the structure remains. Who cares about a garden in winter, they cry! Evergreens help an urban landscape. Yeah? So why did you move the evergreen hedge in front of my building? To break up the symmetry, I reply; symmetry’s hard to maintain. No, they shout, you don’t like flowers. Yeah, we want flowers! Yeah, we know something about gardening too! You’re not the only one! Why do you get the last word? We want perennials! We want annuals! I’m standing there like a fool. Who’ll weed through all the perennials and annuals, I ask. We will, they shout! But I know they won’t. I’m arguing with shadows. Oh now and then, they’ll come out, when the time suits them. They consider gardening a hobby. But it’s an avocation, a calling. That’s when I look up from the earth wondering if I’m talking out loud. That’s when I realize I’ve lost my touch. The earth is remote, distant, I can’t reach this mother of mine. When someone passes by, I see the enemy where once I saw a friend. Why aren’t you helping me I want to ask. Instead I lose my voice. I return here and find you.
Writer – I had no idea you were so angry. You’re always smiling, always cheerful.
Gardener – I want to work and I’m good at it, it’s my specialty. If I gave it up what would I do?
Writer – That’s the hardest part about going on strike!
Gardener – Stop working in paradise? That’s what work is, when you like it, it’s paradise.
Writer – That’s why leaving it is so hard. But listen, most everyone appreciates your work.
Gardener – Yes, yes, most everyone. Only a few complain. I don’t know why I can’t hear those who compliment my work. There are more of them than the others. Maybe I take them for granted and want to be please everyone.
Writer – Galt told me I didn’t have to worry about the feelings of others.
Gardener – I realize some folks can’t come out and weed. They’re busy raising kids, going to work to make a living. But as the afternoon draws on the few grumblers multiply inside my head. Soon everybody’s against me. I lose my resolve. I feel my work’s not appreciated. No one cares. So I flee the garden.
Writer – You disappear.
Gardener – I want to blame you, cooped up in here, crushing rock.
Writer – I told you the rock of this new world is uncrushable. In fact I’m beginning to see it’s more like plastic, instead of breaking, it’s easily shaped.
Gardener – But I can’t blame you for everything. So I blame everyone! It’s easier that way. And then I think about the yellow dahlia.
Writer – What dahlia?
Gardener – The yellow dahlia I planted outside the E building last August. It came back!
Writer – So what?
Gardener – They’re not hardy this far north. We have to dig them from the ground in late Autumn and store them in a cool place for the winter. I wanted to see if it would overwinter in the ground near one of our buildings. It looks nice growing in front of the B building.
Writer – You said it was outside the E building.
Gardener – Well yeah but once it came up I moved it to the B building. In its place I planted Dahlia ‘Mystic Illusion,’ which we bought this June. It also has yellow flowers but the leaves are dark which contrast nicely with the yellow leaves of Cana pretoria. It’s one of the Bishop’s children.
Writer – The Bishop’s children?
Gardener – ‘Bishop of Landaff,’ one of my favorite dahlias. Last January I ordered three tubers.
Writer – I thought you wanted to see if the yellow dahlia survived the winter?
Gardener – That’s right.
Writer – Then what’s all this talk about wanting to see if a dahlia would make it through the winter?
Gardener – After we moved here, I discovered Zantedeschia rehmannii – that’s a calla lily – growing in the narrow bed along the east side of the E building. It came up the following year and every year since. I tried the Canas and they made it. So I knew the Dahlia would return.
Writer – You mean on that assumption you spent co-op funds before you had actual proof? What if it hadn’t come up?
Gardener – I knew it would! We’re growing the three Bishop in the south bed in front of the B building, not far from the nameless yellow and another ‘Mystic Illusion.’ And this year we’re experimenting with bananas!
Writer – Look how easy it is so for you to gateway back to Eden. Once more you are happy. But in spite of your confidence, I still find it difficult understanding how we became lords over the world, it’s more than a matter of planting dahlias.
Gardener – You mean “we” as incompetents or just you and me?
Writer – As in Homo sapiens who seem predominantly incompetent!
Gardener – We didn’t. If anything we just became conscious of the world.
Writer – Do you really believe that we’re conscious of it? The superheroes yes, but. . .
Gardener – Anyway it doesn’t matter. The Hexapoda will always remain ahead of our foolery.
Writer – Hexapoda?
Gardener – No matter how many times we spray them they keep ahead of our strategies by their sheer numbers. And now your geniuses are genetically altering the food we eat so our food kills the insects and the weeds before we take a bite. Doesn’t sound like a good game plan to me!
Writer – Galt said it would get worse! Can’t you see? The dark news keeps piling up year after year like last year’s winter snow.
Gardener – That snow plus the corrosive de-icers used on the sidewalks wreaked havoc on the evergreens!
Writer – What evergreens?
Gardener – The junipers in front of C building. Every time it snowed, the de-icers were thrown down to melt the snow. Then the snow was piled up on the junipers and burned the hell out of them.
Writer – I’m not talking about de-icers! I’m wondering how bad it will get.
Gardener – I recommended Calcium magnesium acetate. We used it successfully at Wave Hill. They use it on airport runways to prevent salt corrosion on the landing gears.
Writer – Where is John Galt?
Gardener – Management said it was too expensive. When you consider the cost of repairing sidewalks and edges and buying new plants you have to wonder how using sodium or calcium chloride saves anything.
Writer – Forget about your garden. I’m talking about spewing deep sea oil wells. . .
Gardener – That was last summer.
Writer – Sucked into the ocean as if swept under the rug! Galt warned me. The infrastructure would fail. Look what happened to the nuclear reactor at Fukushima?
Gardener – Wasn’t it hubris that caused these failures?
Writer – Hubris? Without competent, hands-on, management these failures were assured.
Gardener – What if a top manager acts as if he or she is John Galt?
Writer – The John Galt?
Gardener – It’s possible. Haven’t you been reading about Murkydoc, the newspaper baron, and his son over in London where they hacked the phone of a murdered thirteen year old?
Writer – Who hasn’t?
Gardener – When they testified before parliament they made the distinction between top management and middle management.
Writer – But they didn’t hack her phone, their underlings did. How can the president of a giant corporation and his son know what middle management is doing? Last year the company employed 51,000 people!
Gardener – That’s exactly what Murkydoc told Parliament. But then how can Murkydoc claim in the next breath that he’s the best person to get to the bottom of his own company’s hacking scandal! By his own reasoning he’s too high up to see over his belt the shit on his shoes.
Writer – That proves he’s not John Galt?
Gardener – Well, John Galt or not, top management is competent at something. Whether they’re heads of a news agency or an investment firm they know how to make money, hand over fist at our expense.
Writer – Galt said they had friends in Washington.
Gardener – Murkydoc and son have friends in London and Washington!
Writer – Galt warned me it would get . . .
Gardener – Worse before it got better.
Writer – That’s right. They’re waiting for the lights of New York to go out.
Gardener – The lights of New York have gone out many times. And gone on again!
Writer – This will be different. This time the competents will return to save the world and the $ will reign a thousand years.
Gardener – I’d say money already has reigned thousands of years. But how many will suffer waiting their apocalyptic return?
Writer – It’s not our fault a tsunami took out the ill-conceived Fukushima?
Gardener – Does fault matter when the radioactive fallout effects everyone including the competents toughing it out in Shangri-la?
Writer – You’re right. So how can I, waiting on the margin, stem the tide!
Gardener – It’s not about you!
Writer – Did I say it was about me?
Gardener – You just said you can’t stem the tide. Is that your job? Are you the hero?
Writer – No, John Galt is the hero, not me. I’m just a commoner.
Gardener – I saw people wearing T-shirts that said “I’m John Galt.” Do you think they’re capable of solving all our problems? Do you think we can trust any one man or woman or group, especially somebody who wants the system to completely collapse before they take over!
Writer – Don’t think I haven’t thought about all this! I just heard of another voice,
who. .
Gardener – You read books like a seer reads stars.
Writer – I mean, he’s dead now, but new to me.
Gardener – Another table knocking voice from the grave?
Writer – Very funny. But I’m discouraged! He’s already said it.
Gardener – Said what?
Writer – Everything! There’s nothing left for me to say.
Gardener – Nothing left for you to say? You sound like one of my garden gnomes.
Writer – It’s all been said before!
Gardener – Remember the Dahlia! Gardeners have been growing ‘Bishop of Landaff’ long before I ever heard of it. Does that mean I shouldn’t grow it? Treseder. . .
Writer – I think he’s Brechtian. . .
Gardener – No, he’s British.
Writer – The idea is to remain objective.
Gardener – No, the idea is to be ravished!
Writer – Now I’m confused!
Gardener – ‘Landaff’s’ beauty continues to be the standard!
Writer – Landaff?
Gardener – The ‘Bishop of Landaff.’ Treseder crossed Dahlia coccinea with Dahlia pinnata in 1924. In 1928, it won the Royal Horticulture Society merit award. It’s considered one of the best hybridized plants grown in the last two centuries.
Writer – Who are you talking about?
Gardener – The hybridizer, Stephen Treseder of Cardiff, Wales. My two mentors, Stufano and Nally, first saw the Bishop at Sissinghurst in the early eighties. The gardener there wouldn’t give them cuttings so we had to wait until Cruickshank in Canada carried it. Now it’s readily available.
Writer – I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m talking about David Foster Wallace.
Gardener – Who’s that?
Writer – The writer I was just telling you about!
Gardener – Oh! The voice from the grave?
Writer – He seems like a voice I need to hear.
Gardener – You haven’t read any of his work?
Writer – No, I read the reviews of his new novel, The Pale King.
Gardener – I thought he was dead?
Writer – He was writing it when he committed suicide.
Gardener – Suicide? So he didn’t finish it.
Writer – I don’t know if he finished it. His novel is being published posthumously.
Gardener – So how do you know that you and he have a similar axe to grind.
Writer – That’s what I meant to say, axe to grind, we’re fighting the same demons, he was a warrior against futility.
Gardener – So how do you know since you haven’t read his work?
Writer – I don’t know. I just read the reviews and Wikipedia and other stuff.
Gardener – Secondary bulshit. I thought you advocate primary sources.
Writer – Every day a new primary source is added to my list. Wallace is the latest. The list is getting too long. I can’t keep up.
Gardener – Can fiction be a primary source?
Writer – It’s someone’s view of reality, as opposed to someone’s view of someone’s view of reality. And you don’t need footnotes when writing fiction.
Gardener –Why am I here talking to you? I’ve got weeding to do and pruning!
Writer – You were driven from the garden. Besides, I depend on you.
Gardener – You’re plummeting like a meteor and you’re dragging me down with you. I almost lost it. You have to hang in there like all the rest of us!
Writer – You’re outside, in the sun, the fresh air, our Eden of Inwood, you’ve got the best part of our perfect life!
Gardener – You sound like all the rest!
Writer – Don’t get angry.
Gardener – Don’t take my work for granted!
Writer – I’m sorry. Doesn’t the work get easier now?
Gardener – We’re talking 2 plus acres, dude. We brought in three hundred and twenty yards of mulch and hired a garden crew to spread it near the end of July! But a couple of million weed seeds still made it into the ground by mid July. We spread one batch on the hottest day of the year, 104 degrees! People started complaining about the smell of fermenting woodchips, only they, and I don’t mean my garden gnomes, said we were spreading industrial strength fertilizer, yak – yak!
Writer – No wonder you hear voices. But don’t think sitting on my ass listening to my voices is any easier than you standing on your feet listening to yours!
Writer –We’ll never win.
Writer – You have to admit there’s a difference between the problems of a small garden and those of the world !
Gardener – All winter while you fret over the state of the world, I looked out the window wondering if I’ll make it to spring.
Writer – Am I like Mrs. Pardiggle?
Gardener – I don’t care! Sitting with you my own dreams become too big for me.
Writer – You sound like Daggy Taggart, the most interesting character in the book.
Gardener – My life is not in one of your books!
Writer – But it is! She’s walking along a railroad track in the middle of nowhere trying to reach an emergency phone and realizes, let me see, I have it right here, “what an enormous distance five miles had suddenly become, and that a division point thirty miles away was now unattainable – after an era of railroads built by men who thought in thousands of transcontinental miles.” This happens near the end of Part II.
Gardener – I don’t live your books.
Writer – Books enrich our lives.
Gardener – I want the energy I used to feel in the garden. If I can’t go back, I’ll wither.
Writer – Books are a network that connects us. They nourish us.
Gardener – Can you speak the language of fungi! The fungi live in the mulch. They too connect and their knowledge is without words. When my hands know what to do then my eyes brighten like a child’s.
Writer – Exactly what the uncommoners told me!
Gardener – Your voices wouldn’t recognize the fungi.
Writer – You might be right there. The narrator is certainly dismissive of soybeans and they’re now, in their genetically modified way, feeding the world
Gardener – Your voices believe in a pyramid where humans preside at the top and the uncommon preside over humans and everything else. But I see all the possibilities in the landscape, because the landscape and I are dancing as one. Everything is attuned to the perfection of an ideal. But it’s my ideal, only it belongs to a large puzzle in which every piece represents someone else’s ideal and all of them must be set in place to create one world where we can all dance, the short and the tall, the fat and the skinny, the common and the uncommon. I have no interest in voices who claim all the answers.
Writer – When I started reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand I was overwhelmed by a tremendous lethargy. . .
Gardener – Is that what you’ve been reading?
Writer – I just finished it.
Gardener – That explains your voices, and mine.
Writer – At first I felt my head was a block of wood. With sweeping dogmatic strokes, the author pounded her idea of good and evil like a nail into my head. You’re right it’s difficult listening to voices who always think they’re right. Galt never questions his own motive power, to use one of his favorite expressions. Actually all the heroes talk a language they’ve learned from Galt’s philosophical mentor, Professor Askston. I seem to be waking up from his spell. If someone is doubt free, would he or she take the time to “check their premises,” another favorite phrase of the uncommon.
Gardener – You look better. Maybe this is why Galt appeals to people, after all, he knows all the answers. In the garden it’s just the opposite with me. I see too many possibilities which confuses me at first.
Writer – You’re right. The only people who know all the answers are politicians in front of a camera. Aristotle’s most famous student, Alexander the Great, never questioned his reasons for conquering the world. I was with the Youth when he trudged though J. B. Bury’s History of Greece. He and his lady were living in San Jose, California. The text was cut and dry through more than 700 pages covering more than a millennium. While his girl worked the PM shift in the trauma ward at O’Connor Hospital, the Youth, after a day of laying sod on freeway mediums, sat in the living room of their apartment struggling through the late afternoon heat to retain the author’s words; that is, until he arrived at the gates of Pella, the capital of Macedon. Then J. B. became a child and waxed lyrical over the great astounding achievements of Philip II’s son. The narrative verged on myth. It became storytelling, which is where Bury begins his Greek History, describing Homer’s Iliad. Was J.B. reborn as he neared the end of his massive effort or in capturing the arrogant spirit of the young Alexander did he throw all of life’s lessons into the air for one last chance to prove the gods wrong?
Gardener – You said you had trouble entering the world of Atlas Shrugged. So how did you finally do it?
Writer – I took a palliative, a self-prescribed antidote.
Gardener – You drank yourself silly.
Writer – No! I reread Nevil Shute’s Trustee of the Toolroom.
Gardener – I remember liking that book.
Writer – I believed I was going to be reading a novel advocating pure greed. After all how many people, most of them having never read the book, told me that. I thought Trustee of the Toolroom will contrast Atlas Shrugged.
Gardener – Like the black leaf Dahlia and the yellow Cana.
Writer – The hero in Trustee, Keith Stuart is a retired tool and die fitter, the antithesis of John Galt. He and his wife live in a working class neighborhood outside London where he designs and builds small scale replicas of large machines which he writes about in a hobby magazine dedicated to miniature machines. With his small pension, and the money he makes from his articles and the supplemental income his wife brings in as a sales clerk nearby, the couple earn just enough to keep them solvent. His sister, who married an upper class man, has traveled the world, and thinks her brother is a failure. But the narrator states emphatically that if Stuart had made more money, – and here I quote from page 5, “he would not have made more happiness than he had now attained.” Keith Stuart is the complete manifestation of Ernst Schumacher’s ideal in Small Is Beautiful.
Gardener – Small Is Beautiful? Does anyone know who Schumacher is?
Writer – You’ll find nothing heroic nor dramatic in Small Is Beautiful! Nor will you find those attributes embodied in the central character of Trustee of the Toolroom. He is completely satisfied with his work. If anything ties him to John Galt and the other super heroes it’s that he is thoroughly competent. Dagny Taggart would admire Stuart’s bravery and thorough planning as he goes about retrieving his niece’s inheritance. It’s this competence that moves the story and draws important people, titans of industry, into orbit around Keith Stuart.
Gardener – Do these titians resemble the super heroes in Atlas Shrugged?
Writer – In that they are competent industrialists, like Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart, who have learned their business from the bottom up. But none of them understand Stuart’s satisfaction. None of them would be satisfied with the scale of Stuart’s life? Keith Stuart, like John Galt, comes from humble beginnings. Stuart possesses all of Galt’s attributes, except one, his resentment.
Gardener – Because he’s satisfied.
Writer – Galt’s yearning for the ever reiterated “profit” and his bitterness over the rule of the incompetent separate him from the self sufficiency and satisfaction of Stuart. Stuart has gone to the ends of the world to help his niece. It’s a completely selfless task and interestingly enough, in spite of his lack of ambition, he benefits personally from it. But he is not driven by gain but by concern. Galt confidently marks the dollar sign in the air with his hand now that the nation and the world have collapsed, but I doubt he will ever be satisfied with the world he envisions either.
Gardener – No more than I can when I look at the garden.
Writer – But you question you success.
Gardener – So what happens when someone, who isn’t successful like Murkydoc, thinks he is John Galt?
Writer – He resents the success of others.
Gardener – I’ve felt that resentment too!
Writer – I’m afraid I feel it all the time. You don’t have to be a genius to resent the moochers.
Gardener – You can feel you’ve worked hard while others benefited. That’s when I tell my garden gnomes I’ll quite. . .
Writer – But who will you hurt?
Gardener – Myself. No one asked me to garden. I volunteered. And I hurt the majority of those who like what I do.
Writer – And what about the garden?
Gardener – Can I stop watering the plants? Can a farmer stop feeding his animals? Can parents abandon their children – just to prove a point? Talk about violence!
Writer – The super heroes in Atlas Shrugged describe their pain after abandoning their businesses to the looters, of watching their life’s work disappear as the country implodes.
Gardener – I think you’re palliative worked.
Writer – Hitler thought the German people failed his vision. He didn’t negotiate an end to the war to save Germany from destruction. He welcomed it thinking that the people deserved punishment.
Gardener – That same resentment lead to the irrational hatred that killed the children on a Norwegian island, and still others in a parking lot in Tucson, Arizona and two thousand more in skyscrapers half way around the world?
Writer – And don’t forget those sitting in Congress on a single point of view watching the country go down – it’s small minded.
Gardener – Like stamping one’s feet and throwing a temper tantrum when you don’t get your way. And isn’t that an emotional expression?
Writer – Yes.
Gardener – And if Atlas Shrugged is about a struggle between the competent and the incompetent, then it’s not just a tantrum against big government.
Writer – The incompetents use the government to do what they can’t do in the business world. It’s the self serving and mindless, the politically savvy, in other words those who would frighten the public when the public becomes aware of their abuses, the shoddy work that caused the Gulf oil spill, the poorly made humvees during war time, the deregulation of corporate farming practices that harm all forms of life.
Gardener – And don’t forget the poor lending practices that caused the recession.
Writer – Yes, the actual lenders of capital who led the nation into darkness and were bailed out.
Gardener – You’re back.
Writer – My old self! But you know when I asked my wife. . .
Gardener – She’s my wife too!
Writer – Yes, I know, when I asked her what she thought of Trustee From The Toolroom. she said it was like a fairy tale because everything works out perfectly.
Gardener – What about Atlas Shrugged?
Writer – She didn’t read that. But I’ll say this, John Galt is the Harry Potter of Unimpeded Capitalism.

Footnotes:

Hexapoda
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexapoda

Reuters: Murdoch to Parliament: ‘I’m the Best Man to Clear This Up’
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/19/idUS407970120620110719

Mrs. Pardiggle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleak_House

Schumacher
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._F._Schumacher

Pureline is exclusive, and does not permit other ideals:
“But it’s my ideal, only it belongs to a large puzzle in which every piece represents someone else’s ideal and all of them must be set in place to create one world where we can all dance, the short and the tall, the fat and the skinny, the common and the uncommon. I have no interest in voices who claim all the answers.” 9

The incompetents use the government to do what they can’t do in the business world. It’s the self serving and mindless, the politically savvy, in other words those who would frighten the public when the public becomes aware of their abuses. . . 11

THE GARDENER RETURNS, A DIALOGUE, PART ONE

Writer – Where’ve you been? I haven’t seen you in months.
Gardener – What do you mean where I’ve been?
Writer –You disappeared.
Gardener – Obviously I’ve been outside working my ass off. Where’ve you been?
Writer – Where reality is hard rock and unforgiving. . .
Gardener – The rock pile.
Writer – No, we have to work the rock pile searching for answers. This is different. I was swept away to another world, a land of absolutes, where good and evil are obvious. I hear voices. . .
Gardener – You’re not going south on me are you, like that night you were almost lynched?
Writer – No, I’ve been here. I’m always here.
Gardener – You were here that night too!
Writer – This is different. These voices live inside a book of superb clarity.
Gardener – Books were involved that night, too. There was The Virginian for one.
Writer – That’s true but this novel is different. This time there’s no mistaking the bad guys for the good guys. You can’t imagine how reassuring that is. And it’s all very real. Reality plays a very strong part in the book. That’s why it’s unforgiving. This is not just another comic book adventure, like Superman.
Gardener – I like Superman.
Writer – So do I, but imagine a world with more than one superman, that’s the world I was visiting. Actually they’re more like geniuses but on a heroic scale. They can do anything from growing lettuces to extracting oil from shale, from rolling cigarettes to building super generators that make nuclear energy seem like a camp fire. And the heroine is no Lois Lane. She runs a transcontinental railroad but she can also clean, cook and fly! They all can fly.
Gardener – Like superman?
Writer – I didn’t know she could fly but she gets into an airplane and flies off into the night to follow her soon-to-be-lover who was flying off in another plane, having kidnapped a bright young man she was trying to save. The young man needed the same kind of direction we all need from time to time.
Gardener – Flying airplanes is not the same as superman flying.
Writer – At first I was surprised. But this book is not about superhuman abilities but about what the intellect can achieve. Later her former lover flies over the mountains of Colorado looking for her. I realized that people of this caliber, this entelechy to use Aristotle’s word – Aristotle’s philosophy forms the bedrock on which these folks live – would naturally know how to fly without my having to know the whys and hows. They’re like the heroes in the film, The Matrix, only they don’t have to download their abilities from a super computer. I wouldn’t be surprised if she flew helicopters too! All the competents, as I like to call them or the uncommon as they like to call themselves, know how to think!
Gardener – Uncommon as opposed to common, we being the commoners. Sounds either old fashioned or far fetched.
Writer – It’s a story of adventure and love and a steamy love at that, but it’s much more than that, because it’s real. You see, the heroine is trying to keep the family railroad running in spite of the massive incompetence of suppliers and do-gooders. But really, without her knowing it, she’s searching for someone equal to her own energy and brilliance.
Gardener – And she has her pick.
Writer – How did you know?
Gardener – A gardener’s intuition.
Writer – She has no less than three super heroes for lovers, the last one fulfilling her dream. I actually found number three to be the most boring voice of all, even though he had the most to say. I liked number two better, but who am I, but a common man. But even someone like me, if I work hard for the uncommon heroes, that is, to the best of my abilities, will find a place in their world.
Gardener – The world you just visited.
Writer – Actually the world I was visiting was falling apart, just the way ours is falling apart. I meant the world of the uncommoners that will follow the collapse of this one world.
Gardener – You mean our world?
Writer – They’re the same!
Gardener – Sounds like St. John’s Book Of Revelations.
Writer – Sort of, but without the religious overtones. When you possess a mind like number one’s, I mean number three’s, anyway the leading man of the story, there’s nothing for the rest of us to do but get out of the way and let him and the rest of these people of great ability do great things.
Gardener – All we do is get out of the way?
Writer – That and willingly work for our living.
Gardener – Me gardening and you writing.
Writer – Our fair share will be based on the worth of our contribution – plus a world that runs perfectly! But here’s where it hits close to home, which even a commoner like me can appreciate, you see, the forces of evil want to enslave them, that is, make them work for the wrong reasons. When great people work for the right reasons their work rejuvenates them. As long as they continue working they remain young.
Gardener – Yes, I understand that. Standing around here with you I feel my aches and pains, but when I go outside and start working in the garden on something tangible, I feel energized.
Writer – Unfortunately the forces of evil are incompetents. They are ruining the world. It’s so obvious! They’re gutting the system in the name of love.
Gardener – Is love bad?
Writer – Absolutely. The incompetents are parasites. They feed on the body of work that our heroes produce convincing them that self-sacrifice in the name of love, rather than self-interest in the name of greed, is the only moral way. The heroes believe they are working for the right reason but in reality they are working for the wrong reason. Gardener – You mean CEOs shouldn’t be altruistic.
Writer – Absolutely not! That would indicate incompetence.
Gardener – Not generosity?
Writer – CEOs help society when they realize there is something in it for them. In other words when they seek maximum profit for their efforts. A genius is worth his or her weight in gold. But an incompetent who feels entitled to an equal share of the GNP is dead weight because he or she taxes the nation beyond its means. That’s why we have debt! Among these is the heroine’s brother who is the president of the family railroad. He depends on his friends in Washington to help protect him from competition. He even brags to his sister that he makes more money on subsidies than she does on service. Social justice is the road to hell.
Gardener – What if two CEOs have a differing opinion on what is good for society?
Writer – That is where the competition comes in! Let the better product win! But for those without product, who don’t want to produce their fair share, let them starve! It’s not my concern. I’m a taxpayer, why should I foot the bill. In the coming world there will be no entitlements.
Gardener – I never did understand that word. Until recently I thought it meant things like my entitlement to vote, to worship, to love the person of my own choice.
Writer – Rest assured! No one will ever take those rights away from you. We’re talking about consumer products, like healthcare. I mean if you can’t pay for it you’re not entitled to it.
Gardener – What if I’m sick and I’ve gone through all my money. No one’s going to help me?
Writer – I’ll help you. I’ll loan you money at a fair interest – what are friends for.
Gardener – That’s swell. Considering you’ve probably grossed no more than 10,000 dollars in you whole career as a writer, it seems I’ll be loaning you the money, in fact, I’m supporting you now!
Writer – I was writing your gardening articles! I never thought of charging you for it.
Gardener – You weren’t writing for me, but for an editor.
Writer – I forgot about that. But now as the writer of the margin I understand why I’ve been in seclusion. There are people out there who envy my creativity. They want to silence me! But that’s all going to change. You and I are guaranteed a place in the coming world because we use our minds and see the world as it really is.
Gardener – I use my hands.
Writer – But you don’t expect a handout. That’s the real world. God forbid we try to see the world as we feel it should be.
Gardener – What about the children of those who don’t want to work, do we let them starve along with their parents?
Writer – Won’t our children starve in the future paying for the freeloaders of today! Isn’t that debt undeserved!
Gardener – Can I take your temperature?
Writer – I’m not sick!
Gardener – I’ve never heard you talk like this. This book has infected you.
Writer – That’s because you insist on feeling what is right. But you’ll see the light.
Gardener – I suppose those who can’t work for some physical reason, let’s say their minds are impaired, you know, they lack the ability to use their intellect or perhaps they dream too much, will not be allowed to enter your new world?
Writer – It’s not my world! But I suppose as long as these impaired ones don’t expect help we can help them with basics. Buy them a diner now and then, give them an old overcoat. It should be up to me, not the government. Besides in a competitive world run by genius, money will be made on those who need help! Everyone will be happy. But these are details. The voices didn’t go into them.
Gardener – We just read about CEOs who made lots of money on Medicaid while caring for mentally challenged people.
Writer – Exactly, only there won’t be Medicaid or Medicare.
Gardener – According to the families of many patients these corporate styled executives actually did a great job providing excellent care for their children.
Writer – We, the taxpayers will not be saddled for problems that aren’t ours!
Gardener – Remember when the mentally challenged were released during the Reagan years and wandered the streets a danger to themselves and to the taxpayer! It became our problem then!
Gardener – Government regulation is the kryptonite that weakens the super heroes. Because of it they grow old and weary like the rest of us. In their enthusiasm to do great things these heroic geniuses don’t realize how much the government impedes their work. They think something is wrong with themselves, that they aren’t generous enough or loving enough. But number one, I mean number. . .
Gardener – I know who you mean!
Writer – sets them straight! Geniuses must compete to succeed and must profit from what they produce. If you can’t compete then step down and work for someone else.
Gardener – These voices sound all too familiar in our world.
Writer – Of course! That’s because it’s real. Why just the other day Gimme Markdown, a fierce competitor who is president of a large company that provides everything a commoner would need, and who has the best interests of the consumers and his employees in mind, said that it was becoming evident our nation was going fascist. Another genius who runs casinos and knows the power of an unrigged economic system said he was disturbed by our president’s weird political philosophy. They all felt it was shameful that business and finance should always get a bad rap.
Gardener – Sounds like paranoia too me. Anyway why would government want to impede genius? It’s in the best interests of the nation to have people with ability up and running at full capacity.
Writer – We agree. But the incompetents are cowards. They use government regulations, and force if need be, to stifle competition. This way they can live off the hard work of you and me. But you know what? The leading super hero has called a strike.
Gardener – Number one.
Writer – Actually number. . .
Gardener – Does it matter!
Writer – I suppose not. Anyway, he has led all the super heroes to a place that reminds me of Shangri-la, where they can all work to their hearts content without the incompetents and freeloaders benefiting!
Gardener – Without freeloaders they can stay young.
Writer – I hadn’t thought of that.
Gardener – If no one competent is left what happens to the government?
Writer – Shuts down! And not just government, but everything! And it’s all happening as predicted by number one. Our Government bonds just lost their stellar rating!
Gardener – I guess there’s no need to worry about starving children. There’s nothing we can do anyway.
Writer – It’s the only way! The protagonist told me it would get worse before it got better because the enemy was everywhere and only those who were strong and those who believed would arrive.
Gardener – In Shangri-la?
Writer – In our perfect capitalist world of unimpeded creativity.
Gardener – What if the investor with capital is just one of millions who doesn’t really know how his capital is being invested, a small player in a giant mutual fund? Isn’t his only concern his percentage of growth?
Writer – That’s the whole point! Self interest is the seed bed of creativity!
Gardener – So you are saying that someone who doesn’t care where his money is invested so long as the fund manager keeps the percentage high or climbing is indirectly investing in a genius or perhaps indirectly he is the genius, an idiot savant who has miraculously channeled his money through the labyrinth, like a pin ball machine, until it lands in the worthy hands of an inventor.
Writer – The banker financing the strike of the competents expects a return.
Gardener – Like the Crotch brothers we’ve been reading about.
Writer – Of course they expect a return. But remember this new world will be based on the ancient precepts of Aristotle. In this world the mind prevails over the emotions. The facts preside. So you needn’t worry.
Gardener – That doesn’t line up with what you once read in the happiness book?
Writer – Happiness book?
Gardener – Something about the emotions and the intellect complementing each other?
Writer – The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.
Gardener – I remember you liked the metaphor of the elephant and the rider.
Writer – Haidt stated in his book – but to use my own words – that without emotional input our reasoning is seriously marred.
Gardener – Yeah, that was it.
Writer – Well, from what number one just told me. . ,
Gardener – He’s talking to you now?
Writer – Of course not, that’s just a figure of speech, I’m not crazy. As I now understand it, Haidt was mistaken. You see all the super heroes subjugate their emotions to the authority of reason, because these two separate forces, emotion and reason, are fighting for control of the body.
Gardener – So they believe that reason inhabits the mind.
Writer – Precisely. Isn’t that easier to understand than all the wishy washy rationalizations of some professor?
Gardener – By that line of deduction, according to your own method, self-interest depends on reason and not emotion.
Writer – Why all you have to do is watch the incompetents who rule the country through their political proxies. They wallow in emotional stupidity. In their fear of being out competed they compensate for their lack of ability by handicapping the super stars with rules and regulations. But that’s all going to change. The uncommon assured me that one day I would be free, that nobody would tell me what to do anymore.
Gardener – Whose been telling you what to do?
Writer – The incompetents. The people who always think they’re smarter than me! You know who I mean, the know-it-alls, the intellectuals and the progressives, the people who run community organizations. . .
Gardener – Since when are you anti-progressive?
Writer – Well, you remember the progressives in high school. . .
Gardener – Back in the days of the Youth?
Writer – I remember they could get pretty haughty around the Youth, know-it-alls, the guys had long hair long before anybody else and the girls. . .
Gardener –There are know-it-alls everywhere, and they’re not just progressives but anybody.
Writer – The irrefutable logic of the novel runs as straight as a railroad. It’s a fact!
Gardener – Is it possible the information highway, or railroad if you like, has become a wedge dividing people. That the more facts a person possesses, the less intelligence he can bring to bear when interpreting those facts.
Writer – Besides the super hero made me feel good. He told me I didn’t have to worry about others anymore, about hurting their feelings, that the most important thing was to do what I thought best.
Gardener – What if you thought it was best to kill all those kids in Norway? Are you saying the genius is above the law?
Writer – If the law ignores the irrefutable logic of Aristotle!
Gardener – What’s the use, a lot of kids will starve anyway before you get a chance to kill them.
Writer – I’m not going to kill anybody. I’m just defending my inalienable rights against big government.
Gardener – Your inalienable rights sounds like an entitlement!
Writer – Don’t shout at me!
Gardener – What about big business? Hitler defended the rights of big business as long as they went on producing tanks and bombers.
Writer – The heroine kills a man, but she’s trying to save her number three, our number one, who is being tortured. Violence is the last recourse in the book of tactics utilized by the super people.
Gardener – I see, letting the world collapse and the children starve is only a tactic.
Writer – See, you’re letting your emotions rule! If violence has to be applied it’s because the incompetents force the hands of the good guys. Even with the nation collapsing and the lights of New York City about to go out, the incompetents are busy torturing number one, the only one who can save the country. To stay in power they want him to take the reigns of government and lead the nation out of chaos. Naturally he refuses. I’m afraid you’ll have to read the ending yourself in order to understand. I’m glad the author made the horrible torture scene humorous.
Gardener – You actually found the torture scene funny?
Writer – Gratefully. Anyway by this time the progressives have already driven us into a great depression. The book conjures the images of Russel Lee and Dorothea Lange who were working under Roy Emerson Stryker in the government sponsored Farm Security Administration.
Gardener – Isn’t it true that for many people during the depression government sponsored programs kept them at work.
Writer – Milton Friedman, the author’s friend, considered the WPA, where he found work as a young economist, a lifesaver? But he later learned that such programs are detrimental to the unemployed, because they’re an emotional response to poverty. The voice of the super hero set me straight. I can see the people in the Lee and Lange photographs objectively without my crippling feelings. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. But this is not an historical novel about the 1930s.
Gardener – What a relief!
Writer – Not the word to use! But I know what you mean. Everything but the kitchen sink is thrown into the astounding plot without concern for the details that mire most of us in daily trivia. There must be at least 584 pages of didactic speeches which are necessary to assure our complete understanding. Time, place and consistency, all those elements that mar the modern novel, are gratefully dispatched. For example there is only one railroad bridge spanning the Mississippi River. A literary effect. Imagine a single bridge connecting the industrial east with the agricultural west and it’s up to superwoman to maintain it.
Gardener – Ah, the woman that flies!
Writer – Please, don’t interrupt me. I can’t tell you what would happen if this bridge fell into disrepair. It’s as if Dagny Taggart, that’s the heroine, is that bridge holding the eastern line with one hand and the western line with the other.
Gardener – What about the machine that makes a nuclear reactor look like a camp fire? That’s more like science fiction.
Writer – The super hero, John Galt. . .
Gardener – Who is John Galt?
Writer – Precisely! John Galt, the heroine’s number one, is an inventor, not an industrialist like number two, Hank Reardon, although Hank is a self-made man, like John, and the inventor of a new alloy. Forget what you’ve heard about Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Galt advances science and technology without having to acknowledge modern physics at all. It’s an act of his mind. He can unequivocally say that reality is an absolute, which is, after all common sense. He doesn’t waste his time building a nuclear reactor which I’m sure he could easily have done but instead builds a generator running on static electricity.
Gardener – Like the static on an old radio?
Writer – It’s over my head! But if you’re after details, look up Walter Owen of Florida. He claims to have invented a generator that does the same thing. In fact Dagny discovers remnants of Galt’s first generator while searching through an abandoned car factory with her second lover the self-made industrialist who invented the miraculous steel of superior strength and durability. This generator becomes the holy grail of the novel. She spends 879 pages searching for the inventor.
Gardener – It’s difficult to believe that incompetents can lord over people who have all these super powers.
Writer – You weren’t listening. The super people have fallen under the spell of love. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of lazy ingrates. But naturally deceit doesn’t always work, so the ingrates have also invented a machine. Unlike the competents who invent constructive machines, the incompetents invent a death machine that can destroy people with sound. That’s how the bridge crossing the Mississippi is finally destroyed.
Gardener – The heroine must take this disaster personally.
Writer – By this time she has learned to objectify her feeling. She understands cause and effect! This isn’t a fairy tale world like Mr. Tompkins In Wonderland by George Gamow.

Footnotes:
Aristotle Entelechy:(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potentiality_and_actuality)

CEO Generous Medicaid Payments: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/nyregion/for-executives-at-group-homes-generous-pay-and-little-oversight.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=NY%20executives%20pay%20for%20daughter%27s%20apartment&st=cse

Home Depot President:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/26/bernie-marcus-knocks-obama-adviser_n_909917.html

Walter Owen : http://www.overunity.com/index.php?topic=1732.0;wap2