All through this tale the therapist
Staring at the entrepreneur, a broth
Of anger and
resentment seated there
Within her long and unabated stare.
last, the tale over, she said to the wife,
"That was an honest tale,
upon my life!
For who finds joy in others' joy but those
Who find no
joy in self? The idea arose
In ages dark, when priest and lord held
To take a person's liberty away,
As well as goods, and all that
they could steal.
"But one cannot forget the commonweal,
one cultivates the self
And finds luxuriant richness in the
Between what is and should be. But now the greed
parasites exceeds the need,
Entrepreneurs who roam the globe to
The cheapest labor, they do not care what kind --
free, child or adult --"
"Enough," said the bartender. "Let's not
Against the rules here! Tales! We want but tales!
some petty payback swathed in veils!"
"Don't worry," said the
entrepreneur. "I can
Play tit for tat as well as any man.
My turn is
coming, in which the therapist
Will have, for once, good reason to be
"Believe me, I'm not worried," the therapist said.
all of you, please, let me go ahead."
"Tell on!" the bartender said.
"I'll not intrude.
But make the tale rewarding, not just
"That I'll do," the therapist said, and told
The tale that
now before you shall unfold.
There once was a successful
Who traveled to a faraway place to tour
made what he was selling,
Where people were too poor to be
Against low wages and pitiful conditions,
And where the
government set few restrictions
On what a manufacturer might do
make the most of his investment. Few
Such opportunities existed
He lived, and so he came to look elsewhere.
He met his
guide at the airport, a fiendish man
Who looked like an overseer, whip
In times of slavery. He had a scar
From ear to chin, and
missing teeth to mar
His devilish smile. His very eyes seemed
And mounded muscle played against the cool
White linen of his
boxy, well-pressed clothes.
An odor faintly sulfurous arose
him, as though just lately come from Hell.
This fiend behaved as
though he knew him well,
And they had much in common, often
Him playfully in the ribs, or loudly joking
About sex and
women's body parts and such.
But though the entrepreneur didn't
like him much,
He saw in him a man who could control
needed to achieve his goal
Of making more for less. He could
On such a man, and so he called him friend,
And made it seem
they shared a kindred spirit,
Though he took precious little pleasure
The guide then took him to a factory,
And said, "All
these laborers that you see
Are from the country, landless peasants
Would starve, were it not for folks like you --
out to make a buck,
Providing jobs for people out of luck."
of workers hunched over sewing machines
At long, low tables, stitching
The light was low, the ventilation poor;
was fast, their movements deft and sure.
"They work 12 hours
seven days a week,"
The fiend said, " -- just the workers that you
We meet our quota at the quoted price,
And yet each garment is
And any faults are traced back to the source,
we fire on the spot, of course.
"We pay them just enough so they
To work the next day. Anything more would give
competitors the advantage. You would go
Immediately to them -- this we
And yet, of course, we cannot pay them less,
Or they wouldn't
have the strength to stitch a dress.
And so the market sets the rate of
At what it takes to live another day."
"How much would a
hundred dozen cost?"
The entrepreneur asked. "Well, at the most
The guide then gave a number so much less
Than he expected or
could possibly guess
That he could scarce contain his ecstasy
what he thought his annual net might be.
Soon the millions would be
While all the while the workers would thank
Grateful for providing them with work
When otherwise they'd
starve. No guilt ought lurk
Within his heart, thought the
Who was quite thrilled with this stop on his
"Come to the next circle down below.
The returns get even
better as we go,"
The fiend said. "These are prisoners of the
Who get paid nothing." They then passed through a gate
fence with watchtowers all around,
Manned by guards, their
guns trained on the ground,
And into a low-slung building filled with
Pulling bolts of cloth through presses. When
Each press pressed
down, steam hissed out. The heat
Was almost unbearable. Each
Burned the hand, yet the workers held it steady
it rolled towards the cutting machine, now ready
For blades that
reached across the narrow table,
Ripping right near hands just barely
To avoid them as they held the hot cloth taut.
entrepreneur said, "Perhaps the workers ought
To stay a little further
from the blades."
The fiend laughed. "What's the difference? They're
They're prisoners. One dies, we get another.
men anyway -- why should we bother?
If not enough die here, we execute
We sell their organs, need to stock the store."
he told the entrepreneur how much
Each bolt would cost, a figure that
A bargain he was delighted, and soon forgot
To think about
the prison laborers' lot.
And anyway, who knew what crimes they
Committed? They were surely very bad,
Villains all, who clearly
deserved their fate.
Besides, why should the citizens of the
Pay to subsidize such evil men?
It was right to make them
work, and then
To save lives with their organs! The
Felt positively righteous. But on with the
The way lay downward towards a factory
In which only
children toiled. "As you see,"
The fiend said, "We need small fingers
and sharp eyes
To make these rugs, so many thousand ties
Per inch, a
child can make but one, and then
Her eyesight's ruined." "What happens
to them when
They can no longer work?" the entrepreneur
sell them to a brothel," the tour
Guide answered, laughing. "The
children do not need
Their eyes for that! And get a good price, indeed
More than we paid their parents, that's for sure,
Who sold them
for a pittance, they were so poor.
"The best are trained for the
Two years to make one rug. Can you see
beautiful they are?" He took one out,
A small one, and he turned it all
Showing the entrepreneur how colors changed,
So close the
work, so perfectly arranged.
"Such hand-made rugs are worth a
great, great deal,
But we can let you have them for a steal
they are made by child slaves. Don't think
That that's so bad. Here
there's food and drink,
While at home there's nothing but
Most would die even earlier. So ease
Your conscience with
the thought that, slave or free,
Most of us must live in
These children have helped their families to survive,
if they're forced to work, well, they're alive.
In the meantime you and
I can make out well.
Are you ready for the final circle of
The entrepreneur nodded, and off they went,
a twisting, steep, and dark descent
To a river engulfed in sulfurous
That leaped from the boiling liquid. Men in
Labored on the other side, all sweaty
From the heat, naked,
burned, and bloody,
Whipped by demons as they pulled huge
Up steep hills, or carried them on their
"What profit could I get from these poor souls?"
entrepreneur asked. "What production goals
Are met by what they do? And
who are they,
Who labor in so purposeless a way?"
"They are the
damned!" the fiend replied. "And you
Will profit nothing from the
things they do,
But now will join them for eternity!"
the entrepreneur. "Help! Help! Why me?"
The fiend then laughed,
snapped his fingers, and
The scene just disappeared, as he had
"This was a hologram," the fiend explained,
"To show you
how the world was. We were chained
To a morality that censured
The engine that supplies our every need,
And brings us wealth
and plenty. Never fear,
There's neither Hell nor Heaven waiting
No afterlife to punish or reward,
No ideal to travel ever
Nothing save our own good health and pleasure.
Let's join to maximize our treasure,
And do what for our own sakes will
For here the only blessed must be self-blessed!"
So ends my
tale -- I need not tell you more
About the fiend and his friend, the