Money is King, At Least Until The Next Pothole

Money may make the world go ‘round, but we should not conflate that with authenticity or integrity. Our world mistakes profits for progress, and making money has replaced making things of value. Greed is good again. Politicians and business leaders, the priests of our age, size us up for our market potential. While we are currently in a worsening cycle, greed is hardly new, as this 17th century fable reminds us.

A dead man went on his slow way to take possession of his final resting place.

A priest went on his merry way to bury the dead man as quickly as possible.

Our corpse was in a carriage, well and duly packaged. Dressed in the robes, alas! Robes of winter, robes of summer, which the dead will never take off — that is, he was in his bier. The priest was alongside, reciting, in the ordinary fashion, any number of prayers. And psalms. And lessons. And verses and responses:

Mr. Dead Man, let us take care of this. We can give this to you any way you want it. It’s just a matter of paying.

His Eminence Zip Fly gazed longingly at his dead man, as if someone might rob him of his treasure. His eyes seemed to speak to the man:

Mr. Dead Man, I will have from you this much money and this much wax and this much in numerous other little upcharges.

With his projected gains, he purchased a cask of the best wine in the region; certain of his adorable nieces and his chambermaid, Paquette, ought to have pretty skirts. On this agreeable thought, a great pothole appeared. Goodbye cart. Voila, His Eminence Zip Fly, dead from the trauma of a broken skull. The lead-encased parishioner dragged the priest behind, our priest following his Lord. And the two dead men journeyed on together.

Say you were avaricious, and say you were a global business leader, but I repeat myself. This riff on a Mark Twain quote came to mind watching all the Davos attendees and profit apologists make nice with Trump because, after all, he’s pro business. As Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz said:

“They are now licking their lips. Davos Man has been able to overlook Trump’s ‘America First’ rhetoric, his anti-climate-change action, his protectionism, nativism, racism, bigotry, narcissism, misogyny, for the lucre that seems to be the true motivating force behind Davos Man.”

US-based global companies are repatriating profits with the passage of the tax bill. Not so they can benefit the country, but so they can benefit themselves. And let’s be clear, trickle down economics is a chimera. Notice the first word in the expression is trickle, not gush, not even flow. We call it a drought when rivers reduce to a trickle. We call the plumber when all we can get is a trickle from our taps.

America has a long history of looking at the world through money’s lens. After all, in the 60s, it was the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution that was used to end racial segregation nationwide. How? — with the argument that racism was bad for business. Times changed. By the 90’s when a similar argument was made about violence against women being bad for business, the case failed.

What does good for business mean now? Gouging a person cradle to grave and the least social protection for the most in need. But business is a word that often comes attached to another word — cycle. The winds of change will blow.

Potholes are coming. Some priests will be knocked off their carts. But will we already be in our biers?

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