It was the week before Christmas
And there was joy on Wall Street
The earnings forecasts
Had all been beat
Profits were up
Payrolls were down
Blackberries were ringing that joyous sound
The smell of money
Was in the air
Bonus time would soon be there.
At the George Soros Hedge Fund, the traders waited expectantly for Soros to come down to the trading floor and distribute their bonus checks.
Trader 1: Oboy oboy, I can’t wait. My mouth is watering!
Trader 2: Well, don’t slobber all over my suit. I just got it out of the cleaners.
Trader 1: You don’t know what this means to me. I had to give up my place in the Hamptons.
Trader 2: You don’t know what suffering is. My wife walked out on me. Of course, now she heard that I am getting back on my feet, so she wants to patch things up.
Trader 1: You gonna do it?
Trader 2: Hell no! I got my eye on a younger model.
This exchange was heard by Tiny Tim Geithner, the little crippled office boy, who happened to be pushing his broom down the aisle.
Tiny Tim: You guys shouldn’t be so focused on materialism. Remember, Christmas is the time to express joy to the world and charity to your fellow man.
Trader 1: Why don’t you shut the fuck up, you gimp! Is that what they taught you at Wharton?
Trader 2: Don’t pick on him. Can’t you see he’s a freakin retard? Hey, Geithner, how’s your stimulus doing?
The Traders: Ha ha ha ha ha!
Tiny Tim: If it wasn’t for the stimulus you guys might have had to go out and do some real work. Most of it ended up right in your pockets.
Trader 1: Where else should it go? To some freakin solar panels? If you want to make money, you have to spend money.
Trader 2: And nobody spends money better than we do!
The Traders: Ha ha ha ha ha!
Trader 1: Quiet now! Here comes the boss with our bonus checks.
[Enter George Soros, bearing a thick bundle of envelopes]
Soros: H, fellows, ladies. Before I start, I’d like to thank you for all your hard work work this year. The fund had a landmark year. Earnings are up 35%, and we are anticipating an even better year next year. [distributes the envelopes]
Trader 1: Hey, boss, there must be some mistake. There’s no check in here!
Trader 2: Yeah, it’s just a freakin UNICEF Christmas card!
Soros: That’s right. In the spirit of the season, I have decided to contribute the firm’s bonuses to the UNICEF fund for disadvantaged third world children, so that they can have clean water and food. That’s our Christmas present to the underdeveloped world. You folks are making a good living, so I figured that you would be happy to contribute to ending world misery.
Trader 1: Are you crazy? I was counting on that money!
Trader 2: Yeah, how do you expect me to live on a measly 250 grand?
The Traders: We need cash! We need cash!
Trader 1: Please sir, may I have some more…..money!
Soros: Hold on there, guys! I came to this country as a displaced person after World War II. I had to work my way up from nothing. It took years of chiseling and scheming to get to where I am today. Now I feel like it’s time to give something back to the world. You lot have never missed a meal in your lives. You have had everything handed to you on a silver platter by your parents and by the taxpayers, who have subsidized your education and have rewarded you with unbelievable tax breaks. Now you are being obliged to do something nice for other people. If there is anybody here who objects to this arrangement, there’s the door. You can go over to Goldman Sachs, hat in hand, and see if they’ll accept you.
Anybody care to leave?
The Traders: [silence]
Soros: Yeah, that’s what I thought. See you all back at work on Monday.
Trader 1: Boo hoo hoo! [to Tiny Tim] this is all your fault, you and that prick Obama, for spreading commie propaganda and undermining the American Way of Life.
Trader 2: I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’m probably going to have to move to (sob) Queens. Jeez!
Soros goes home to his Fifth Avenue mansion. He changes from his bespoke suit to a simple loincloth and spins cotton on his spinning wheel, chanting Hindu mantras. Then, after dining on a simple meal of wheat germ and alfalfa sprouts, he retires to his small bedroom and goes to sleep in his narrow bed.
After dozing soundly for several hours, he is awakened at midnight by a blinding light that erupts from the darkness.
Soros: What manner of madness is this?
Voice: And well you might ask! Don’t you realize the chaos you are causing on Wall Street?
It’s the voice of Bernard Madoff, who emerges from a curtain of light and steps into the room.
Soros: Madoff! I can’t believe my eyes!
Madoff: The same way I couldn’t believe it when the money dried up and revealed me to be running a stupid three-card monty game on Third Avenue.
Soros: I thought you were serving life plus a hundred and fifty years in the federal pen.
Madoff : I am, but I got a furlough so that I could come and talk sense to you. Even Obama thinks you are out of your mind.
Soros: What do you mean?
Madoff : I mean that the world is held together by a system of continuity. As the events of the last couple of years have proven, any breech in the chain can cause the collapse of the whole system.
Soros: That’s rich, coming from you!
Madoff: I did my part. Remember, social progress is not just built on the labor of honest men. Villains also play their part. I may not have been a creator of value, but I redistributed wealth. Many honest people depended upon me and, for the most part, I performed for them. Nobody complained about me until the system imploded. Even now, plenty of people are keeping silent because I did very well by them. It’s only the ones who were not clever enough to see the writing on the wall who got hurt. Just like the larger system.
Soros: I see what you mean.
Madoff: You think I like it in the pen, with the animals and sex offender? With the lowlife scumbags and degenerates? I kept silent and took the rap for my whole family and all my associates who were all in it up to their necks along with me. I am a man of honor.
Soros: Anyway, that’s all part of history.
Madoff: You could say that if you want to, but if you believe that you or anybody else on Wall Street is better than I am, then you are sadly deluded, for all your snobbishness. We didn’t create this system, we inherited it. You do the best you can within the limitations of your capabilities. You think I meant to hurt people? No. That’s just the way things worked out.
Soros: Why are you telling me this?
Madoff: Because your traders and your employees are like Vestal Virgins in the service of your personal temple of finance. They would go to the end of the earth for you and even fall on their sword for you if they knew that you would stand behind them and their families. That’s why I am beseeching you personally, don’t take the bread out of their mouths and squander their resources for a cause to which they do not personally subscribe, just to indulge your own personal idiosyncrasies.
Look, my time is up. I have to report back to prison. Just remember, next month or next year you could be in there with me.
And just as suddenly as he had appeared, Bernard Madoff vanished, and the wall of light along him, plunging George Soros into darkness. Soros lay there for several moments. And then, convinced he had experienced a nightmare, he turned onto his side and quickly descended into a deep sleep.
He found himself flying high over the Empire of Mexico, witnessing the epic struggle that pitted the eagle against the plumed serpent of Tenochtitlan; the construction of the Aztec and Mayan pyramids; the conquest and the revolutions of 1810 and 1910. He saw the struggle and misery of the wretched muledrivers in Chiapas and Tabasco states; the hundred years’ rebellion of the peasants in Yucatan, who rallied around the Talking Cross until they were eventually crushed by the military, and the backbreaking, soul-crushing despair of the Mexican peons, who, knowing no other destiny than the fatalism of their pre-Columbian ancestors, consigned themselves to a destiny of hopelessness and despair.
Then he saw telephone linemen setting up mobile telephone transmitters and young Mexicans happily connecting with each other, liberated from the historical burdens and ignorance of their progenitors. With each telephone sold and each ringtone registered, Soros witnessed a few pesos ringing into the account of Carlos Slim Helú, the richest man in Mexico, the richest man in the world.
Soros found himself sitting in Slim’s Mexico City office suite, across the desk from the great man.
Soros: Why have you summoned me here?
Slim: To plead the cause of your employees, whom you have grievously offended. Don’t you realize that you have breached a compact between yourself and them and destroyed the covenant between a patron and his employees?
Soros: Those are pretty words, coming from a man like yourself, who is reputed to be one of the meanest, cheapest capitalists in existence! The accounts of your avarice and hard-dealing are legion.
Slim: It’s true, everything that you say. But it’s the only way I know how to operate. I’m no genius. I steal. I bribe officials to sign sweetheart deals. But if you look at the history of Mexican capitalism, within the historical context of Mexican civilization, where people used to rip each other’s still-beating hearts out of their bodies and throw them into the fire, I have done what was necessary. Otherwise, you would be sitting across the desk from somebody else.
I exploit my employees. I underpay them and I fuck them. But human intelligence being what it is, if I were to afford them all the dignity and consideration that are due to them within the context of western civilization, I couldn’t make money. There would be no telecommunications and Mexican society would still be locked in the dark ages that I found it to be when I started.
I admit that I am no philantropist. Whatever good works I have achieved have been at the urging of my public relations advisors. I would prefer to use my money to make more money.
Nevertheless, without the efforts of my employees I could have accomplished nothing. What am I going to do, shimmy up a telephone and connect a satellite dish?
And it is for that reason that I have summoned you here from your bedroom in New York City – to implore you to restore the bonuses of your employees, in order that I and the capitalist class around the world may continue to exploit the workers and the public, and that we may continue to rake in the money.
Remember, capitalism is a stinking, rotten, corrupt system. It’s a whorehouse. But it’s all we have right now.
Soros: OK, I’ll take it under advisement. Now, can I leave?
Slim: You are free to go.
Soros turned over in his bed and once again descended into a deep slumber. No sooner had he done so, when he was smashed in the head by a soccer ball. He sat bolt-upright in his bed. Facing him was Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Berlusconi: Mi dispiace, signore. That ball was kicked by one of the forwards from my football team, AC Milan.
Soros: Don’t tell me that you are going to plead the cause of capitalism to me. This is getting to be a very strenuous night’s sleep.
Berlusconi: How could it be otherwise, signore? But in my case, I am hoping to elevate the argument to a socio-political level that might appeal to the more philosophical instincts of a person with your refined sensibilities.
Soros : Having met with Carlos Slim, I am prepared to concede that you may be striving at the maximum of your intellectual capacities, but nevertheless, considering the grave, might I say heinous, acts you have committed as Italy’s richest capitalist, considering how you have distorted Italian society and destroyed the lives and mental phychology of countless millions of Italians and Europeans, anything that you might have to say to me in defense of your behavior would be completely superfluous.
Berlusconi: Might I remind you that I represent a culture that stretches back to the beginning of human history. The methods to which you refer, which might seem to a person like yourself to be venal and corrupt, are, in fact, time honored solutions to intractable complications of human nature. Remember, when confronted with the Gordian knot, Alexander the Great broke through by the uncomplicated solution of obliterating the knot with his sword.
This is Italy we are discussing, the Italy of the Caesars, the Medicis and the Popes, who were reknowned for their intrigue, deception and hunger for power. No American can even conceive of the complications of Italian psychology, and I am not expecting you to. I desire from you a leap of faith, that I am not engaged in politics for personal gain, but to restore Italy to its rightful place of influence and glory in the modern world.
If I am to pierce the Gordian knot of Italian inhibitions and self-destruction I need to wield a sword of modern solutions. You can’t imagine the impossibility of governing Italians, with their inertia, their greed, their vainglorious egotism. My solution is to concentrate all power in myself, to appoint a bureaucracy in my image, to control all information. Basically, you have to believe in me personally. It has been done before, all throughout history. Only, I hope to accomplish it without resorting to violence, using the power of persuasion.
Soros: Speaking as an American, I think you’re out of your mind.
Berlusconi: That’s a determination for you to make. Only, your country is very young. Your history is still in front of you. I hope that the Americans will not have to endure the trials that other countries have had to face, but I am not optimistic for them. It might be that only in a thousand years’ time your descendants will come to recognize the wisdom of my actions.
Soros: Look, this has been a very long night for me. Can we please get to the point?
Berlusconi: My point is for you to come to an entente with your employees, who have been faithful to you, and forget the philosophical conceits that led you to redirect their Christmas bonuses.
Also, I might suggest that you come to Catholicism. Why do you think Jesus is always portrayed as blonde and blue-eyed? Because he was not a Hebrew, he was a Roman centurion who stayed out in the sun too long and fell victim to heatstroke and delusion. The Jews only appropriated him for commercial purposes. Come to the Catholicism and the Pope. It’s philosophically more modern and, despite its obvious defects, more esthetically pleasing.
Soros: Well, I really have heard quite enough for one night. Now, if you don’t mind, I like to get some sleep.
The following day the Traders were assembled on the trading floor, discussing their financial woes.
Trader 3: My kids’ tuition bill is coming due for Dalton, and I don’t know how I’ll cover it.
Trader 4: I’m three months behind on the payments for my Lamborghini.
Trader 5: What tears me up is that there are great deals on condos all over town and I’m stuck living in a rental. My folks didn’t send me to Dartmouth so that I would end up like this!
Trader 3: Every time I see a poor kid, I want to kill him.
Trader 1: Quiet! Here comes George.
Soros: Fellows, I’ve come to apologize. I was wrong to arbitrarily appropriate your bonuses for humanitarian causes with out consulting you first. Here are your checks.
The Traders: Hooray!
Trader 1: We’re saved!
Soros: The most important thing is the easy availability of liquidity. Poor people are just a drain on the economy.
Trader 2: He’s seen the light!
Soros: There are some cases of champagne in the freight elevator. Somebody call up some hookers. Let’s party!
The Traders: Right on!
Soros: Oh yeah, one last thing. Where’s that little prick, Tiny Tim?
The Traders: We got him right here.
Soros : Throw him out the window.
Tiny Tim: Helllllllp meeeeeee! [squish].
It was the night before Christmas
And the world did agree
What we really needed
Was a good party
The joy it did spread
Up and down Wall Street
As the banker perused
Their fat balance sheets
The widows and orphans
Banished from sight
Good tidings to all
And to all a good night.