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

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