Is capitalism corrupt? Some might think so..

I am currently reading (or should I say listening too http://goo.gl/vSDNt). Brad Thor’s Full Black novel.  The book is about Scot Harvarth; a covert American operative.

These are great books, but this isn’t what I am writing about.  There is a character – James Standing – who is a multi-billionaire who thinks that capitalism is rank with corruption and the US market has been dead for decades.

The two chapters below portrays radical thinking that has been expressed outside of the realms of this fictional novel.  Pay close attention to the news and you might start wondering if there is some truths to fiction…

SPOILER ALERT!!!  Please read my “Fair Use Statement” before continuing as the following text is © Brad Thor – Full Black – All rights belongs to Brad Thor.

© Brad Thor – Full Black

All rights belongs to Brad Thor.

Chapter 15

 

Ralston wanted to know all about the plot Salomon thought he had uncovered to collapse the United States. “Give me the details on Project Green Ramp.”

“To understand it,” said the producer, “you have to grasp its underlying principle. It actually boils down to a simple question. If we were in a house and I thought it was burning, but you didn’t, would it be okay for me to lie or even use force, to get you out of the house?”

“Hell no.”

“Why not?”

“What if you’re wrong?”

Salomon smiled. “Bingo.”

“What do you mean, bingo?”

“Individualism in America is hard-wired into our DNA. We want to make our own decisions, even if it means making mistakes. We don’t want other people telling us what to do. There’s a group of people, though, who believe that you and I are too stupid to make our own decisions and that they should do it for us. Despite America being the greatest force for good in the history of the world, they see it as greedy and evil. They’ve been tearing it apart bit by bit for decades and have become desperate to finish the job. They believe they can and should use any means necessary to get across the goal line, no matter what the cost.”

“The ends justify the means,” said Ralston.

“Exactly,” Salomon replied.

“And getting across the goal line means collapsing the United States?”

“According to James Standing, the United States is the only remaining obstacle to a just and stable world.”

Ralston shook his head. “That’s beyond insane.”

“So is sending a Russian wet work team to kill three filmmakers. Standing is a full-on sociopath. Nothing about him makes sense. Despite being born and raised Jewish, he’s a rabid anti-Semite. Despite being a billionaire many times over, he’s a vehement anticapitalist. Despite having benefitted greatly from everything America has done to empower the individual, he is a vocal proponent of social engineering and the redistribution of wealth. One of the best descriptions of him I ever heard was that he was a malignant, messianic narcissist who, left unchecked, would bring about horrors beyond those performed by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot.”

“So who’s keeping a check on him?” asked Ralston.

“Nobody.”

“Come on.”

Salomon held his right hand up and rubbed his thumb and forefinger together. “Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy almost anything else. Even an entire political system.”

Ralston looked at him. “Now who’s insane?”

“I heard a comedian make a pretty good point recently. He said that all members of Congress should be required to wear NASCAR uniforms. You know, the kind with the patches? That way we’d know who was sponsoring each of them. I think he was kidding and we’d never be able to get them to do it, but it’s a great idea and would wake people up in this country instantly.”

“And Standing would be seen as the root of all evil? That’s hard to believe.”

“He has a very clear vision as to what he wants to have happen to America. Along with a handful of leaders of other key foundations, he developed a very simple plan to bring it about. He started by using his wealth to co-opt anyone who could have any impact on popular culture or public opinion. Newspapers, actors, journalists, publishers, politicians, business people, unions—you name it. The idea was to be able to control the media, as well as any other voices Americans trusted. They knew they needed to change the way Americans saw themselves. It’s ideological subversion, plain and simple. To get it to take hold, though, they needed to begin planting this new way of thinking in the most fertile minds they could get a hold of.”

“Which means kids,” said Ralston.

“Precisely,” Salomon replied. “That’s why Standing and the foundations aligned with him have been such heavy contributors to educational endowments. It’s the golden rule. He who controls the gold controls the rules, or in this case, the curricula. But it wasn’t enough to simply plant this new ideology. For it to blossom, it had to grow without being challenged.

Hence the disappearance of civics classes and the portrayal of American history through the lens of imperialism and aggression. Instead of social studies, children were taught studies in social justice with America repeatedly shown as the bad guy.”

“How long has this been going on?” Ralston broke in.

“Decades,” replied Salomon. “The students subjected to Standing’s propaganda are now adults. They’re everywhere you look—business, the media, government, even teaching successive generations of kids in our schools.”

“Couldn’t they be deprogrammed?” asked Ralston. “I’m sure it’d be a monumental task, but—”

The movie producer shook his head. “They’re completely immune to anything that deviates from their ideological perception of reality and what they have been taught is the ‘real’ truth. The lens they look through life at has forever been altered. It’s both terrifying and brilliant in its totality.”

Ralston nodded. It was terrifying.

“On top of indoctrinating kids,” said Salomon, “Standing wanted to get as many people dependent upon the government as possible. Government handouts, even for corporations, are like heroin. Most people, once they’re hooked, remain hooked and don’t even realize it. They rationalize that they’re entitled to the handouts. And the politicians are just as addicted, except they’re addicted to power, and to increase their power, they need to keep doling out more and more handouts. It doesn’t matter if we can’t afford the handouts. They’ll keep borrowing and printing money, running the country deeper into debt in order to keep the heroin flowing. It’s a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle. In fact, one of the most apropos political observations I have ever read is that a democracy can exist only until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From the moment that realization takes hold, history shows that the majority of the people will always vote for the candidate promising the most goodies from the public treasury. History also shows us that once a democracy goes down this road, things never end well. Each and every single time, the democracy collapses. It always happens. It collapses over loose fiscal policy, and democracy is always followed by dictatorship. And guess what the dictator promises?”

“Utopia?” Ralston replied.

Salomon shook his head. “No. When democracy collapses, fear, violence, and uncertainty fill the void. In essence, it’s chaos, and that’s what the dictator preys upon. The people are so terrified that they will agree to trade anything, even the most precious possession they have—their liberty—in exchange for a return to order. But when order is restored, freedom is never seen by those citizens again.”

“So that’s Standing’s goal,” said Ralston. “But how does he intend to get there? How the hell could he force America to collapse?”

“That’s the tricky part,” Salomon replied. “Historically, when democracies have collapsed it’s because they were already unstable to begin with, like us. Then, some sort of crisis, or a group of crises come together in such a way that they push the democracy over the brink. They can come in any form. Often, it’s some sort of black swan event.”

“Like the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan,” stated Ralston.

“That’s a perfect example. The 9/11 attacks were another. Basically, a black swan is something that no one would have ever expected to materialize, which ends up causing massive unforeseen consequences, and after the fact is rationalized as something everyone should have seen coming.”

“So Green Ramp is about choreographing a black swan event?”

“That’s what we think,” Salomon replied.

Ralston shook his head. “Standing manipulates America right up onto the ledge and then shoves. He ought to be tried for treason.”

“Now you know why I wanted to make this film. He needs to be exposed.”

“What he needs is to be swinging from the end of a rope. That’s the price you pay for treason.”

“Not anymore,” Salomon said. “Not in today’s America. We don’t try people for treason, much less put them to death for it. It’s looked upon as an archaic reaction to what should be handled, if at all, as a criminal matter. If we began hanging traitors, we’d lose a good many of our politicians, business and union leaders, even teachers.”

Considering some of the crimes that had been committed in the past twenty years in America, Ralston didn’t exactly think that would be a bad thing. “Do you have any idea what kind of black swan event they were looking at creating?”

“Unfortunately, no. It’s not the kind of thing they put on their website. And it might not be just one black swan, it could be a whole wedge of them.”

“But it’ll probably have something to do with the economy, right? Some sort of new financial crisis?”

The film producer shrugged. “Considering his expertise, that makes sense, but there are other possibilities. He’s stirred revolutions in other countries by creating crises of confidence in government. He’ll rig an election and then leak that the election was rigged. But even that might be too pedestrian when it comes to what he has planned for the United States. With his money and demented worldview, anything is possible. Remember, no matter what, James Standing feels that the ends justify the means.”

“Do you have any idea exactly what his ends are? What is it he has in mind? Some sort of global governance?” asked Ralston.

“Standing is a globalist, all right,” replied Salomon. “And he definitely believes he can help usher in some sort of utopia, but there’s one final step that would have to be undertaken, and that’s the most frightening thing of all about him.”

“What is it?”

“Remember what I said about him being worse than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot if left unchecked?”

Ralston nodded.

“We found an interview he gave on the sidelines of the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was some small European paper and maybe he didn’t think it would get any pickup, but he allowed his proverbial mask to slip. In the twentieth century, he said, the world saw the loss of about 225 million people due to war, genocide, and disaster. According to him, the only way mankind can survive the twenty-first century is if the world population is cut by at least five billion. And that will only happen if every industrialized nation is forced into collapse, starting with the United States.”

 

© Brad Thor – Full Black

 

Chapter 33

“Do you always travel with security?” Julia Winston asked as she took another sip of the 1992 DRC Montrachet that James Standing had ordered. They were sitting at a corner table in New York’s famed Le Bernardin restaurant. The billionaire’s protective detail occupied two additional tables a respectable distance away.

“Unfortunately, the world can be a dangerous place,” he replied, lowering his glass back to the table.

The reporter still had many more questions she wanted to ask him and she wasted no time. Picking up her pad and pencil, she said, “That’s a perfect place for us to pick back up. Let’s talk about the world as you see it, or more

precisely how you’d like to see it.”

“I’d like to see us all get along.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning, we’re all citizens of the world. What happens in one nation can affect another and because of that, we need a better collaborative decision-making process. It must be something that allows for more intelligent decisions to be made and for those decisions to be made faster, with less bickering and foot-dragging. We share a planet where a volcano that erupts in Iceland can disrupt flights in Europe. An earthquake and tsunami that sweep Japan can destroy nuclear reactors, causing radiation to drift across the Pacific to the U.S. These are all things of collective interest and affect more than just one nation, agreed?”

Julia nodded.

“Where these items of collective interest exist, where multiple nations have skin in the game, as it were, it is my opinion that the only way to get the right things done is by subordinating state sovereignty in favor of international law.”

“And for international organizations as well?”

Standing smiled. “Yes, in fact I just came from a reception at the U.N. You see, it’s all about clarity of purpose. If we can come together with a shared set of values and a shared sense of purpose, we can make the world a much better place. Let’s take economics, for instance, a subject I know you and I are both interested in. We cannot continue the failed economic policies of the last thirty years. Our planet is dying and we have more people than ever before in poverty. The only way to bring about reform is for the pendulum to swing from the market toward the state.”

Julia looked up from her pad. “But hasn’t the free market actually lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty?”

Standing shook his head. “The capitalistic system is morally bankrupt.”

“What about India and China? Average incomes there have skyrocketed over the last thirty years.”

“I’m glad you mentioned China. China is a perfect example of what state-run capitalism can achieve. It proves that capitalism doesn’t require democracy. In fact, it operates better without it. And as far as India is concerned, it is home to a third of the poorest people on the planet. I’d think twice about using India as an example of the benefits of capitalism.”

“So we should ignore that the 1980s and 1990s, often known as the new golden age of capitalism, saw the proportion of the world’s population living on a dollar a day or less drop so dramatically that it was enough to offset rising populations in developing countries?” she asked.

“Not at all,” replied Standing. “Life has, in fact, gotten better for people around the world. That is thanks to globalization. But quality of life is nowhere near as good as it should be. The planet is possessed of abundant resources and wealth, yet—”

“Yet you think that wealth should be spread around, correct?”

“I think that if it is in our power to make the lives of our fellow human beings better, we should do everything we can to make that happen.”

“Would that include transferring America’s wealth, let’s say, to citizens in poorer nations?”

Standing laughed. “What wealth? America is bankrupt. In fact, if we had a global reset, America would be much better off.”

“Better off how?”

He thought about it for a moment and then said, “This is oversimplifying it, but picture a homeowners’ association somewhere in America. Let’s say there are fifty homes. The spectrum of the owners’ indebtedness will run from no debt and healthy bank balances to one, maybe two families who are hanging on by their fingernails, not sure how they’ll afford their next bag of groceries, much less their next mortgage payment.”

Julia looked at him. “You’re saying the family who has worked hard, paid off their mortgage, and has saved their money should bail out the family who can’t afford their house, much less groceries?”

“It’s not that simple,” cautioned Standing. “What happens if the poor family defaults on their mortgage?”

“Why don’t we examine why they can’t afford their house and groceries? Did they bite off more than they could chew?”

“Who knows? Maybe Mom and Dad just had a run of bad luck. Maybe they both got laid off. That these people have financial problems doesn’t mean they deserve them.”

“I’m not saying they do, but—”

“Answer my question,” said Standing. “What happens if this family goes under and defaults on their mortgage?”

“I assume they’ll be foreclosed on and eventually evicted.”

“Correct,” replied Standing. “And what happens to the house, then?”

“It goes on the market.”

“At what price?”

“At whatever the market will bear,” said Julia. “That’s the way markets work.”

“Not in this case. You see, the bank doesn’t just have one house, it has thousands; hundreds of thousands. It doesn’t want to be in the home ownership business, it wants to be in the money-lending business. Its motivation is not to hang around and wait for the free market system to work. It wants to dump that house as quickly as possible, and to do that, it’s going to dramatically mark down the price. What would that do to the values of the other properties in the homeowners’ association?”

“It would effectively lower them.”

“Which means, through no fault of your own, the equity in your home has been diminished. So, what would make more sense? Losing your equity? Or everyone chipping in together to make sure everyone succeeds?”

The woman looked at him. “You’re offering a false choice.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Of course you are, Mr. Standing. If I have worked hard, saved my money, and paid off my mortgage, I shouldn’t have to bail out another homeowner.”

“Not even if they have fallen on hard times?” he asked.

“Imagine if you were in their shoes.”

“I have no doubt that it would be terrible, but it isn’t the government’s job to take money from one group and give it to another.”

Standing smiled again. “Really? What do you call taxes, then?”

“I disagree with a lot of how the U.S. government spends my money, but we’re not talking about taxes.”

“In a way, we are. What happens when the family in our scenario doesn’t pay their share of the fees and assessments of the homeowners’ association?”

“I would imagine that their property would end up getting a lien placed on it,” she replied.

“But in the meantime, the association’s expenses still need to be paid for, and that burden falls more heavily on the other owners. They have to dip into their reserves, or if the reserves are too thin, they have to pay more in order to cover those who can’t. We can push those who have the most to give more, but as increasing numbers of homeowners go under, sooner or later the burden to make up what they cannot contribute will be overwhelming. We won’t be able to collect enough from the wealthiest homeowners to make up for it. Wouldn’t it be better, not to mention easier, to simply rebalance the scales? The sooner you can get that family who is in default back into a job and working, the better it is for everyone. The prosperity effect, as I like to call it, inures to everyone’s benefit. This is about recognizing people’s dignity.”

“And in no place on earth,” she said, “have the freedom and dignity of the individual been more available and assured than in America.”

“Human dignity is a global concern,” replied Standing.

“There can’t be social cohesion as long as there is such a vast chasm between rich and poor in the world.”

“And you see dismantling capitalism as the answer?” she asked.

“I see unfettered capitalism as the reason the chasm exists. Human dignity cannot be realized without equitable income distribution. Because human dignity and social cohesion matter to all of us, this is an issue that transcends national sovereignty.”

“Therefore it should be dealt with by international law and international governing bodies,” she replied, repeating his earlier statement.

“Exactly,” said Standing. “This is why a global reset would be so good for so many nations, including the United States. As with the homeowners’ association, everyone would benefit. It would give every nation the chance to be rid of its debts and to start fresh.”

“But what you fail to realize is that one person’s debt is another person’s asset. I look at my mortgage much differently than my bank does. To me it’s a debt, one that I took on willingly, by the way, and one that I’m morally obligated to pay back. To the bank it’s a business transaction, which it took on willingly, and from which it rightly expects to profit, thereby serving the interests of its shareholders. No one put a gun to either of our heads.”

“So the housing bubble all happened by accident?” asked Standing.

“No,” Julia replied. “The housing bubble happened for a multitude of reasons. One of the biggest was the government strong-arming banks into providing mortgages to people who didn’t qualify.”

“People have a right to a place to live.”

“You’ll forgive me, Mr. Standing, but I think you and I have a very different view of what rights are.”

“Rights should be what an enlightened government decides is best for everyone.”

The reporter shook her head. “As Americans, we hold that we have been endowed by our creator with our rights. These rights cannot be taken away or limited by any government. We have the right to—”

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Standing said with a wave of his hand. “I know, but tell me how anyone can be happy without a place to live?”

“There’s nothing in the founding documents that says the government owes you a house. There’s also nothing in there that says the government owes you a job, an education, or medical care.”

“Those documents you love so much were written over two hundred years ago,” he replied. “There is no possible way America’s founding fathers could have seen how complex society would become.”

“And if they had been able to see into the future, you think they would have felt it best for people to be ruled over by an elite group?”

“Government should provide opportunity.”

“I agree, but government isn’t the solution to our problems,” Julia stated. “Government is the problem.”

“I wouldn’t have figured you for a radical, Ms. Winston.”

“I’m not.”

“Really? It sounds to me as if you’d like to do away with government.”

“I don’t want to do away with government,” she replied. “I want to make it work.”

“So do I,” said Standing. “And if we all started over together, the global economy would instantly rebound.”

“But once we start over, how would you prevent disparities from growing again? It’s a fact of life that some people will work harder than others. Some people even will choose not to work.”

“We’d need a universal set of rules applied to everyone equally.”

“These rules would also govern capitalism?”

“Absolutely,” he replied. “Capitalism is the source of all that’s wrong in the world. It has become too big for any one nation to regulate. People are hurting and it is within our power to stop that hurt. We are a noble species. It is our duty to lift people out of despair. The only way to do that, though, is to challenge global capitalism head-on, with redesigned international institutions and far more encompassing international laws.”

“All overseen by a global governing body,” she said.

“For collective issues like human dignity and things that affect it? Of course. Individual rights have to take a backseat for the good of everyone’s collective rights.”

“Is there anything this global governing body wouldn’t have control over? It seems that almost anything could be placed beneath the umbrella of human dignity and collective rights.”

“I see what you’re doing,” replied Standing with a wry grin. “You’re trying to box me in.”

The journalist shook her head. “I just find it interesting that a billionaire, someone who has so benefited from capitalism, should be such an outspoken proponent of socialism.”

Standing bristled at the remark. “You’re an attractive woman, my dear, but you had better wise up. Big tits and a pretty smile are only going to get you so far.”

Julia was stunned by his vulgarity. “Excuse me?”

“You have no idea how offensive I find that remark. Do you have any clue, any clue at all how fatiguing it is to be committed to doing good, only to be hammered for it day in and day out by people like you?”

“People like me?”

“Yes, you free-market zombies. All you do is complain about government intervention. You lie to anyone who will read your columns, listen to your radio programs, or watch your TV shows. You tell them we need less government regulation. You tell people that capitalism works precisely because people pursue their own self-interest. You don’t want any checks on that self-interest at all. Every man and

woman for him- or herself. No accountability.”

Leading financial figure or not, Julia had no intention of letting his remarks go unanswered. “Your tasteless comment about my breasts aside, Mr. Standing, I never said people in the free market should not be held accountable. I think they should. But the answer isn’t adding more rules, it’s to enforce the ones we already have. If our lazy, inept bureaucrats had been doing their jobs, Bernie Madoff would have been caught. What’s more, the thousands of Wall Street bankers who bundled lousy loans in collateralized debt obligations they knew would tank would also be locked up. And while we’re on housing, as far as your HOA analogy goes, I wouldn’t want the value of my home to drop for any reason. If it did drop, then I’d lose equity, but I should decide if I help neighbors in their time of need. The government shouldn’t make that decision for me. Sometimes, it’s not a handout that people need, it’s a kick in the rear. If a family has honestly fallen on hard times, then I believe good neighbors would pull together to help them. That’s what we do in this country and we do it because it’s right. You, though, don’t want to address how that family fell upon hard times. In your mind, they’re automatically victims.

Their situation could never possibly be their fault. If they’re poor, or in financial straits, that’s because somebody else put them there. Somebody stole what was rightly theirs or prevented them from achieving. You’d never think to ask if maybe they purchased a home they couldn’t afford. Did they purchase expensive vacations and flat-screen TVs instead of laying away emergency funds for a rainy day?

“And while you see these people as victims, I and the other free-market zombies, as you put it, see these people as individuals. Individuals empowered to make their own decisions. Neither you, the government, nor anyone else has the right to be in the business of trying to regulate outcomes. You can call it social cohesion, income equality, or social justice. It doesn’t matter. Despite whether the term

offends you or not, what you are advocating is pure socialism.”

Standing gripped his butter knife and tried to keep his temper in check. “If asking society to invest in its citizens in order to make life better for them is socialism, then I guess I’m guilty as charged.”

“But you’re not asking society to do these things. You’re trying to force it. You want to subvert the power of nations to decide their own destinies in order to impose a global system of laws overseen by a global system of governance. You’re not only a socialist, Mr. Standing, you’re a socialist who has not only benefited greatly from capitalism, but one who then wants to use those gains to utterly destroy

capitalism and replace it with your vision of what will bring about some sort of perfect world where an omnipotent government provides everything people could ever want or need.”

“Socialism and communism are simply terms meant to demonize. I don’t even think you know the difference between them.”

Julia Winston nodded vehemently. “I most certainly do. They both seek public control of the production and distribution of wealth and while many believe they mean the same thing, they don’t. One is voluntary and the other is involuntary.”

Standing rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, yes. Evil communism forces everyone into what the state wants and socialism is elective.”

“Wrong,” she replied. “Communism is the end game of socialism. Communism is the theoretical, stateless utopia where mankind has been perfected to the point where government is no longer needed.

“A completely voluntary communist society stems from the Marxist theory of evolution. For the Marxists, the communist utopia is the apex of human development—a time at which man has genetically evolved out of his selfish ways and consistently acts toward the common good, completely of his own volition. To get from capitalism to the hypothetical utopia of pure communism, society must be subjected to the tyranny of socialism. That’s where people make their mistake in describing the two philosophies. They think socialism is voluntary and communism is involuntary when actually the reverse is true. So in the interim phase between selfish capitalism and selfless communism we have socialism. Under socialism, mankind, for its own supposed good, is subjected to the authority of dictatorship, an enlightened ruling class of elites who control the human environment in egalitarian terms in order that they may steer the proper genetic evolution of mankind.”

Standing looked at her. “You are such an attractive woman, I could almost believe anything you say. I think that’s why FOX News has been so successful.”

“You are changing the subject, Mr. Standing,” said Julia.

“I haven’t changed it, my dear. You have. Don’t you believe in justice? Don’t you believe in people not being allowed to game the system?”

“Of course I do.”

“Then why are you so against making the world a better, more equitable place for all of us?” Standing asked. “You have given me the usual shallow, shopworn defense of capitalism, but you haven’t given me one concrete reason why my ideas are so unreasonable.”

“One concrete reason?” the reporter replied. “I can actually give you four. First, it is morally wrong to take anything that doesn’t belong to you and having the state do the taking doesn’t magically make it okay or right. Second, socialism has been tried repeatedly and has never worked, anywhere. Yet each new crop of elites think they can enact socialism and this time it will be different. They stick the

socialist fork back in the electrical outlet expecting a totally different outcome, but it always ends up the same. Third, when people become reliant on the state, that reliance erodes their self-respect, their sense of self-worth, their work ethic, and their independence. Finally, socialism promotes class envy and class warfare. The makers resent the takers for draining their resources and the takers resent

the makers because no matter how much the takers take, they always want more. They erroneously believe that the makers have an abundant supply from which they should be continuously compelled to give. But, as Maggie Thatcher so aptly put it, the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Standing shook his head. “I’m afraid you have misunderstood me, my dear.”

“You know what, Mr. Standing? At first calling me my dear was cute. You reminded me of my grandfather, but now I find it patronizing.”

The billionaire liked that he had gotten under her skin, but he didn’t like being compared to her grandfather.

“And as far as misunderstanding you,” she continued, “I haven’t. I understand you all too well. Listening to you speak, I keep remembering that old Chinese proverb. Give a person a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a person to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Your problem is that you want to give everyone fish. If you really cared about human dignity, you’d be giving everyone fishing lessons.”

Standing shook his head once more. Why was this so hard for these flatearth types to understand? “Despite everything we’ve talked about, despite the disproportionate number of haves versus have nots, the inequitable distribution of wealth, all of it, you’ve never had one doubt about capitalism? You can look me in the eye and tell me that somehow greed and self-interest are good things?”

“All I know, Mr. Standing, is that there is no perfect place where greed doesn’t exist. In fact, the greater the government control, the more greed there is. The people who are the worst off in our world don’t live under capitalism, they live in societies that have turned away from or are prevented from embracing capitalism and free trade. So you’ll pardon me for saying so, but what you’re proposing isn’t going to make the world a better place. If you were successful at doing what you say you’d like to do, it would make the world a much, much worse place, and I pray to God it never happens.”

“God,” said Standing with a derisive sniff. “You see the state our planet is in and you still believe in God. You really aren’t very bright, are you?” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement.

“I’m bright enough to realize that now that you’ve made your money and are one of the wealthiest people in the world, you’ve abandoned the ideas that got you here and have replaced them with fantasies of a classless utopia,” said the reporter as she stood up.

The billionaire was taken by surprise. “What’s going on?” “Thank you for the wine.”

Was she leaving? “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Back to my office to finish writing my article.”

All rights belongs to Brad Thor.

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