Friday, November 04, 2011
It is morning of the final day of Ricardo Perez's eight-year term as president of the land of Yoosa. He sits at his office desk in the presidential palace, honing the farewell speech he will make at mid-day from the upper-floor balcony to the thousands of Yoosans who are gathering in the palace gardens to say goodbye. The speech will also be televised live to all Yoosans at home and in their workplaces, and to television watchers around the world.
The speech will be short because the president knows that Yoosans love him for all he's done for them. So there's no need for a long and boastful speech. The president's accomplishments during his term of office speak for themselves.
After putting the finishing touches to the speech, then reading it back to himself aloud to ensure its rhythm is how he wants it, the president puts the speech in his desk drawer, then sits back in his ergonomic chair, thinking on the last eight years. He smiles as he contemplates the changes to the nation of Yoosa he has wrought.
Yoosa was a mess when President Ricardo Perez had taken over from President Khalid Wahaba eight years ago. Unemployment was at Great Depression levels.The national debt was at a record high and still climbing steadily despite the historically high levels of taxes levied on the rich, who consequently had little left over to create the jobs that would put Yoosans back to work and eliminate the debt.
Yoosa's unemployed, comprising a quarter of the workforce, had little incentive to create work for themselves by starting their own businesses, because they had become too used to getting welfare and unemployment benefits while lazing about. In any case, obstacles to starting one's own business were well-nigh insuperable because of government red tape and innumerable laws applying to the workplace.
The government had become fat as never before, and was becoming fatter. Aside from all the welfare and unemployment benefits paid out interminably to Yoosa's idle and shiftless, Yoosa's armed forces were another huge burden. Yoosa was spending yearly on its armed forces as much as the rest of the world put together was spending. And there was the upkeep of the millions of prisoners that Yoosa kept in its jails. Mainly because of the drug laws, Yoosa's prisoners comprised over a quarter of the world's prisoners.
The monies that Yoosan taxpayers were spending on educating the young at state-run schools were monies wasted, because most graduates were coming out as ignorant and slack-jawed, and as indolent and drug-addled, as before they came in.
The enormity of all these problems would normally have dissuaded Ricardo Perez from running for the presidency of Yoosa. However, during his years as a businessman running his own hardware store in the little town where grew up, he had soaked himself during his evenings in the works of economic and political philosophers like Adolf Schmidt, Frederick Harper, Wilton Weedman, Ludwig von Misery, and David Stockperson.
From them he learned that government is the biggest obstacle to economic growth. Government stifles the creativity of business which is a coiled spring ready to unleash as soon as government gets out of its way. There is nothing which government does, which business cannot to do better, and much more cheaply. Hence the smaller the government, the more the efficiency, the faster the economic growth, the greater the prosperity for all.
Ricardo Perez also learned from these philosophers that by entering into business and using one's creativity to make a profit by using Market Forces to one's best advantage, one does the work of God. One's innate capacity for creativity is bestowed by God for the purpose of its being used to the best of one's ability. Hence not to be creative, and to just work for the government as a functionary, is to mock God.
Ricardo Perez emerged from his nightly studies of these learned philosophers a changed man. He now saw how simple was the solution for Yoosa to get out of its mess. Cut taxes to a fraction of what they were, shrink government to the barest minimum, and let business do its thing.
One night, Ricardo Perez dreamt that God appeared before him and said it was his mission to lead Yoosa out of its misery. He therefore entered politics and ran for president against President Khalid Wahaba, whose agenda of Big Government under the aegis of Socialism had brought about the mess that Yoosa was in.
Promising to cut taxes to almost nothing, and to shrink government to almost nothing, so it would get out of the people's way, enabling them to easily start businesses and become rich, Ricardo Perez was elected president of Yoosa. It was close, though, for Wahaba-style Socialism was deeply ingrained in the collective psyche of Yoosans.
Once president, Ricardo Perez found it had been easier to make campaign promises than to carry them out. Most members of Yoosa's parliament were bought and paid for by rich men whose corporations were making lots of money from government contracts. Hence President Perez's first attempts to do what he had promised Yoosans, were routinely thwarted by parliament.
The president was nothing if not determined. He ordered his most trusted confreres to dig in to the lives of all parliamentarians. He knew that most had done things, or were continuing to do things, that they'd rather their families or the public or the police not know about. A visit by masked men to a parliamentarian at his home late at night, and the brandishing of documentary evidence of his wrongdoings, was usually enough to make the parliamentarian see things the president's way and to vote accordingly.
Hence President Ricardo Perez was able during his eight years in office to do everything he'd promised. This made him unique among presidents.
The president dealt first with the armed forces. Why was Yoosan defence spending so large that it amounted to half the defence spending of the entire world? Who were Yoosans so afraid of? the president asked.
Apart from a small frontier force backed by some nuclear missiles, Yoosa's armed forces were dismantled. Save for those needed for the frontier force, all uniformed soldiers, airmen and sailors were dismissed and told to find real work in the private sector or start a business. Most of the guns, tanks, aeroplanes, and ships were either scrapped or sold off to any country that would buy them.
President Perez got rid of the drug laws, saying that to criminalise anyone for using a drug of his choice was incompatible with a free society. Since half of Yoosa's prisoners were in there for drug offenses, they had to be freed.
All prisons and their remaining inmates were sold to the private sector. By renting out prisoners as labour to factory-owners, the new corporate owners of prisons were now able to make them profitable, so they no longer cost the Yoosan taxpayer anything.
President Perez scrapped Yoosa's Department of Education. As with prisons, he sold all schools, colleges and universities to the private sector, which now provided for a profit all education and training for young Yoosans. The education and training to work at a McDonalds was all that was required for most jobs. Hence most young people - in order to get jobs in today's Yoosa which had exported most of its high-tech jobs overseas - needed no more than an ability to do simple arithmetic and operate a cash machine. The private sector, where most young people would end up working, was therefore better suited to provide the education and training to work in the private sector.
Since this basic education took at most a couple of years, children from ten years and up could now work full-time and make money instead of being bored to death at school. Parents wanting their children to become scientists, doctors, lawyers and whatnot, could easily afford this education for their children, thanks to drastically lower taxes from the shrinking of government.
It was in medical care that President Perez did most for ordinary Yoosans. Before he took office the costs of medical care were more than poor, and even not-so-poor, Yoosans could pay for, and by far. The government hadn't allowed Market Forces to operate in the medical field. This brought about a supply of doctors inadequate to meet demand for their services, with the consequent effect on their fees.
President Perez therefore changed the immigration laws to allow doctors from anywhere in the world to freely come to Yoosa and set up a medical practice, and to charge whatever they wanted with no interference from the Yoosan Medical Association or the government.
Doctors practicing in Yoosa increased tenfold during the presidency of Ricardo Perez. Their fees were kept in check by the same Market Forces that applied anywhere in the private sector. Hence doctors fees fell steeply. Ordinary Yoosans could now afford medical care for themselves as easily as they could for their dog or cat.
In the interests of leaner government and lower taxes, state pensions and state medical care for the old were abolished. Hence old people who had been living off state pensions before President Perez took power, now had to go back to work unless they had other means of support.
This potentially presented problems for Yoosans with old mums and dads. To enable Yoosans not to be financially burdened until late in their lives with having to keep their old mums and dads in nursing homes and hospitals, the law was changed to allow anyone not wanting to pay for the upkeep of an old mum or dad to have them euthanised. However, old mums and dads objecting to their adult children having them euthanised could escape this fate, but only on proof that they could support themselves.
You can't make an omelet with out breaking eggs, it is said. The eggs broken through President Perez's transforming of Yoosa were government employees, whether military or civilian, who lost their jobs, for, shrinking government to almost nothing, meant shrinking government jobs to almost none. Those thus laid off, plus those already unemployed when President Perez took office, amounted to half of Yoosa's workforce.
With unemployment at fifty percent - which was more than twice the percentage during the Great Depression - liberal beeding-heart economists like Saul Kruger and Bobby Rich had a field day. And not just a field-day, but lots of field-days. Through the medium of the great newspapers of the land, they whined day-in and day-out that President Perez was doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing to get all Yoosans working. The president should increase government spending, not decrease it, said Saul Kruger and Bobby Rich, for to increase spending is to increase demand. Demand, not supply, is what an economic recovery is all about, said Saul Kruger and Bobby Rich.
However, Ricardo Perez, man of the people, knew his fellow Yoosans better than did Saul Kruger and Bobby Rich, men of the Ivory Tower. President Perez knew that the work-ethic still flowed strongly in the bloodstreams of Yoosans. All that was needed to activate it was a prod, which came in the form of President Perez's doing away with all welfare and unemployment benefits to the jobless, who - as with the old people now without pensions - knew that they had henceforth to earn money or starve.
At first there was unrest. Throngs of the now benefit-less unemployed marched on the presidential palace, demanding that their benefits be restored. Being unarmed, they were easliy dispersed through the usual methods.
But it was protests by unemployed soldiers that were a problem, because many hadn't turned in their guns when they were dismissed. Consequently there were several attempted armed takeovers of the presidential palace. They were only put down after much blood was shed by both the security forces and the former soldiers.
Unrest, however, began waning once the seeds which President Perez had sown, began sprouting. Within weeks of welfare and unemployment benefits being done away with, the landscape and roadsides of Yoosa began being dotted with stalls set up by sellers of hot-dogs, ice-cream, fruits, vegetables, trinkets, toys, and the manifold other things that Market Forces produce when government shackles are removed. Car repair businesses began multiplying; laptop shops began appearing in large numbers; and, because larger than expected numbers of Yoosans elected to have their old mums and dads euthanised, funeral businesses expanded.
The corporate rich of Yoosa, their taxes now almost zero, had more money left over to buy more plant and equipment for their factories and to hire idle factory-workers en-masse. Soon, all Yoosans were working.
Yoosans, whether poor or rich, were showing that they still had the drive and creativity of their pioneering forefathers who had once made Yoosa the envy of the world. Courtesy of Market Forces and the abolition of Socialism, Yoosa was on the road back to greatness.
Busts of the former president, Khalid Wahaba, that Yoosans had on their mantelpieces, made way for busts of President Ricardo Perez.
President Perez, as he sits at his desk on the morning of his last day in office, is comforted in knowing that his vice-president, who will take over from him tomorrow, shares his economic and social views, and will continue his policies. Although a woman, Vice-President and now President-Elect Para Salin has shown she is as tough and as resolute as any man. President Perez has no doubts that when he chose her as his running mate eight years ago, he chose wisely.
It is now almost noon. The president can hear coming through his windows the crowd chanting, "Rick, Rick. We love you Rick. Don't leave us, please."
President Ricardo Perez takes his speech from his desk drawer and goes out onto the balcony..........