Well that was understandable. He, the Alien C.W. was in a shape the calls “Carl the Confused.” It’s sort of a cross between The Riddler on the old Batman series and the newscaster Geraldo Riveria. I know, very weird, but I usually just let him run with whatever.
“Yes. And just what are you confused about today?”
“Borrowing money to pay for things.”
“You don’t do that on Falloonia?”
“Oh heavens no. We just use money curry favors.”
“Well, if you don’t use money to buy things, why would you want your favor curried, so to speak?”
“To amass money. Why else?”
“To buy things then? Now you are confusing me.”
“No, just to amass wealth and the prestige that comes with it.”
“Not to purchase things you need?”
“Oh, we have everything we need. We even have everything we want, allocated according to our social status. We inherit that from our parents.”
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You have everything you need or want, yet you strive to amass riches? That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard of.”
We were walking around the pasture at our farm, trying to stay fit. He stopped us, turned to me with a solemn face. He nodded it slowly and winked.
The he burst into a maniacal laugh. It rose from him like a volcano erupting and spread over his body. It shook. He clasped his arms around himself and the shaking slowed. After a moment, he began to regain composure, raised his gaze to mine, and said, “I was screwing with you. Is that how you say it?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just read where your government is going to have to borrow a trillion dollars so it can give money the most blessed of those among you. I thought that was funny.”
The point he was making was interesting. I found his method of making it most annoying. I had to admit, though, that it was true.
He said, “A million, a billion, a trillion … those terms sound quite a bit alike, don’t they?”
I thought. “Yeah,” I said, “I suppose they do.”
“It makes them easy to toss around playfully and interchangeably. I heard a woman say that in a documentary I watched this week,” he said. “Want me to tell you what else she pointed out?”
He was going to tell me anyway. “Sure,” I said. “Go ahead.”
“Well,” he said. “If you were to stack brand new, crisp, $1,000 bills on top of one another, do you know how high the stack of a million dollars would be?”
“About four inches. And a billion-dollar stack?”
I shook my head.
“About 364 feet. That’s about the height of …,”
“A thirty-story building,” I said, interrupting him and shaking my head.
“Correctamundo,” he said. “Now, about that trillion you are giving to the rich?”
“It strains my mind,” I said.
“A stack 63 miles high, give or take a few feet.”
I said nothing.
“Now,” he said, “Do you think your people would approve of a 63-mile-high stack of borrowed money being given to people who are already rich?”
“I don’t know.”
“Or,” he said, “would they approved that it be tossed away invading a sovereign country just to prove you could?”
“I don’t know.
“Sure they would,” said. “And I find that most confusing. We, on Falloonia, call that Stchecundetnuronerss.
“And what does that mean?”
“You don’t really want to know.”