It was obvious that something was troubling C.W. He had been moping around all day in the shape of one of his more troublesome characters. I call him “Carl the confused.” He prefers “Charlie the Wonderer.”
Whatever. He finally asked me to take a walk around the pond on our farm. I didn’t really want to do it because of all the goose poop on the bank, but he insisted, and reminded me that when I had taken on the job of being his host, that I had agreed to explain our ways as well as I could. So we took a walk.
He had filled a pocket with rocks from one of my wife’s dozens of piles that she has picked up over the years. There are no natural rocks on the farm, so they have all been collected by her.
He sailed a rock over the surface of the pond. It skipped once and sank. “She’s going to whip your ass,” I said, “for stealing her rocks.”
“She won’t miss a few from all the thousands she has stacked around.” He sailed another. It failed to skip even once.
“Are you kidding? She knows every one in every pile, where it came from, and when she collected it. Besides, you’re not doing it right. You have to bend low and get it closer to the surface.”
“Show me,” he said, handing me a rock.
“You won’t tell?”
I bent low and sailed the rock. It skipped three times and sank.
“Tell me,” he said as he pulled another rock from his pocket. “Can you really run government like a business?”
The question surprised me. “Why do you ask me that?”
“Writing a report. The Elders sent me a communication saying this orange-faced guy has them all confused.”
“What orange-faced g…, oh.”
“They aren’t sure that he is for real. They think it’s just another Earthling television show. I must explain it all to them. So can you? Run government like a business?”
“No.” I said.
“Several reasons. First, business can operate anyway it wishes as long as it doesn’t break the law.”
“But what about …?” He began.
“As long as it doesn’t get caught breaking a law.” I corrected myself.
“Government,” I said, “on the other hand can only operate under specific laws that allow it to protect the public health, safety, welfare, and morals of the people, laws that have been validated by the courts.”
“Then there is an actual law somewhere that allows the president of your country knowingly to lie to the public in order to carry out his aims?”
I thought. “Not exactly.”
“So he can just do it anyway, without punishment?”
“That’s what elections were designed to do.”
“Back in the old days?”
I didn’t answer. After a moment, I said. “There are other differences between business and government.”
“The business model is that for my company to win, your company must lose. Government, on the other hand should enact policies or take actions that benefit or protect us all.”
“How’s that working for you?” he said, bending over and throwing a stone. It bounced twice.
I veered away. “Business operates under the so-called ‘Law of Supply and Demand’ in providing goods and services. Generally, low supply and high demand increase price. In contrast, the greater the supply and the lower the demand, the price tends to fall. Businesses flourish when high demand justifies an increase in supply.”
He stopped. “But,” he said. “Didn’t your late president Ronald Reagan say that supply creates its own demand?”
is the smell of sulfur
in the halls of
government. - C.W.
"Reagan received a lot of bad advice,” I said. “Have you ever heard of Oliver North?”
“So, the idea is that if we keep building things, producing products, and providing services that nobody wants, we’ll get rich?”
“No,” I said. “We’ll eventually go bankrupt, time and time again. Soon, nobody will lend us money anymore, nobody who is operating solely on sound business practices.”
“That sounds reasonable,” he said. “Nobody supports a loser?”
“Uh,” I said, foreign interests might, if the rewards outweighed the risks. It seems to be done for political ends at times, and that blurs the proper demarcation between government and business.”
“And the ‘government the people, by the people, and for the people,’ as you great man put it, would allow that?”
“If it has enough backing.”
He bent low and sailed a rock. It bounced four times and sank slowly. He stood up with a bright look on his face.
“I’m beginning to see,” he said. “It’s all just a matter of how far you're willing to bend over.”