Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Building Foundations on Rock or Sand

“Leaders in business and government, who fail to see the holistic interdependence of our planet, are destined to cause its demise.”  - Said Elias Dawlabani, Memenomics: The Next Generation Economic System

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” - Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

The #1206 “fiction” series continues ….


On a hot, sticky summer afternoon in Manhattan, I stood on the corner of Wall St. and Broadway and watched idly as people hurriedly went about their business.  “Everyone going nowhere in a hurry”, I thought to myself.

Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by a voice to my right as a deep, baritone voice said “It seems like everyone is in a hurry to go nowhere, doesn’t it?”.

Startled that someone had voiced the very sentiment that I was thinking, I turned to face the origin of the musing.

The tall, impeccably-dressed man facing me smiled amusingly, seemingly aware that his comment had startled me.

“You’re right”, I replied, “They are in total oblivion to what’s going on around them.  I guess ignorance is bliss after all.”

“Possibly”, he replied, pursing his lips for a moment. “However, even ignorance is fleeting. Every person is eventually forced to acquire wisdom or pay the price for their ignorance.”

“What do you mean?”, I asked.

“Would you walk with me for a moment?”, he asked.  Nodding my consent, we began to walk down Wall St.

“Imagine you have a dollar”, he continued as we walked slowly down the street.  “You lend me the dollar and I use it as collateral to borrow a second dollar so now I have two dollars.  I lend the two dollars to a friend and following the same process, he converts it into four dollars.  He buys food with some of the money and passes the rest on.  Some friends later, the current top person in the lending pyramid is now in possession of over a thousand dollars.  That person buys weapons with some of the money, sells weapons to make more money and then lends the rest.  A couple of friends later, the current top of the chain uses the money to buy political influence or power and sits on the rest of the money.”

“There is nothing strange about that”, I noted.  “Many of our investment vehicles work exactly like that.  That is how the world works.”

“Very true”, my companion nodded.  “Now let’s assume you have an emergency in your Life and you need your dollar immediately.  You come to me but I don’t have the money you lent me so I ask for it up the chain.  The guy I lent it to realizes that he will have to give up his food and is not happy with that and so he tries to get some of the money back from the guy who bought weapons.  That guy realizes he will have to give up some of his weapons in order to be able to satisfy the request and decides that that is not an option.  So he in turn asks people higher up the chain to give up some of their money so that someone can send a dollar back down the chain to you.”

He paused for a moment before continuing. “The people at the top, not wanting to give up the power they have bought with their money, decline the request and so despite a lot of perceived money in the system, no one is able to return a simple dollar to help you.  However, the person at the top decides he is willing to lend you a dollar with exorbitant interest if you are desperate enough.  While you have accepted this approach in the past, you now decide to exercise a legal process to force me to return your dollar to you and in the process, the pyramid collapses as people at various levels are forced to give up food, weapons or power.  This causes them to turn upon each other to protect what they perceive is their right to own.  Meanwhile, the guy at the bottom, you, just wanted your dollar back but in your inability to get your dollar back unencumbered, you are in the least powerful position of all and your world collapses.”

We walked in silence for a bit before he concluded.  “The person with the smallest ulterior motive is also the one with the least amount of power but the one who will be punished the most for merely asking for what was rightfully his.  Seems awkward or unfair, doesn’t it?”

“I guess”, I replied as I mulled over his words, trying to decide if they made sense or not and whether or not I had somehow contributed to this if true.”

We both paused for a moment before I asked, “But if that’s the case, who would benefit the most from such an arrangement?”

“Now that is an excellent question”, he replied.  “Seeking the answer to such a question would prove to be of great value for humanity.  Unfortunately, few have such courage to pursue it.  It’s like being the first family to settle in a neighbourhood that a city is rehabilitating.  Few have the courage to put their family at risk by being first but everyone wants to reap the reward derived from driving the bad elements out of a neighbourhood in order to reclaim it.”

He was silent for a moment, allowing his words to sink it, and then he asked, “What type of person are you?”

“I’m not sure”, I replied, “I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

When my comment produced no reply, I looked around and my companion was gone.  Momentarily confused, I looked around me, knowing that he couldn’t have disappeared that quickly.

As I continued to look around in bewilderment, I looked up and realized that I was standing in front of the Federal Reserve ….

…. and I wondered.

To be continued.


© 2014 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Series Origin:

This series, a departure from my usual musings,  is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.