Please note that the “ruler” in this piece is not Obama, but rather more along the lines of the imaginary President who Hunter recently had lecturing Congress on fiscal restraint.
By the way, I’m pleased to announce that, after some encouragement (and maybe a TINY bit of waterboarding), Hunter has taken my advice and started his own blog:
Stop by and wish him well on his new adventure.
The Parable of the Talents, 2012
(with deep apologies to Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-28, and with no claim or attempt to represent this version as being strictly biblical)
…Therefore stay alert, for a nation turning its attention to its own affairs and not being mindful of its elected representatives is like a wealthy ruler going on a journey, who summoned his bureaucrats and after drawing up a contract between he and them, placed into their keeping the divisions of his government. To one he gave oversight of five departments, to another two, and to yet another one, each according their popularity and personal appeal, saying “promote and enable the nation’s businesses with these so that they flourish and grow until I return, drawing responsibly from my Treasury only what you need”. Then he went on his journey.
The bureaucrat who was given five departments went off right away and began hiring additional staff, diversifying and expanding his influence, spinning off narrow oversight functions into separate departments, building his scions up into full-fledged divisions, constructing beautiful, ornate, and highly-secure premises within which to office his staff, requisitioning soldiers to guard all his facilities, showering largess upon all who looked in his direction (most heavily upon his subordinates), and institutionalizing his expansion policies until the number of offices and sub-bureaus under his control could only be drawn as an increasing geometric curve, with each org chart only as stable as the sand in which it was inscribed, giving chronic nightmares to the royal actuaries.
The bureaucrat who had been given two departments did likewise.
The bureaucrat who had been given one department feared his master, so he did all he could to support the kingdom’s merchants with his meager staff, and yet he refused to expand his authority. Quickly realizing that no amount of under-spending on his part could make up for the actions of the other two, he counseled them to reverse their course and return to the contractual boundaries in place with their king. When they didn’t listen, he found he could not get his message to the people because the Heralds’ Union was now highly regulated, and happily so, and they did not wish to endanger their new pension plans.
After a long time, the ruler returned and summoned his bureaucrats to settle accounts.
The one who received five departments came and said “Master, you entrusted me with five departments, and now they are as many as the stars in the sky!” The one who received two departments came and said “Master, you entrusted me with two, and now they are more plentiful than the sand along the sea!”
Then the one who had received just a single department came and said “Master, I know you are a hard man, and will not wish to harvest what has been sown! I was afraid, and I and my staff worked tirelessly day and night to facilitate trade, and to enact as little restraint upon business as we could ethically manage, so that the economy might not be stifled! But the public has been turned against me. For trying to keep the kingdom on the path you decreed, I have been accused of wanting to slay children and the elderly, and hating those who look different than me, and of being insensitive to the endless needs of our invaders (this last I will admit is true, but feel that it is a strange accusation nonetheless).”
“I have had to fear for my life, the lives of my family, and for my diligent servants because my reluctance to, for example, provide public funding for the arts is now equated with attempts to both censor and enslave the citizenry! These others have rendered for naught all of my efforts!”
The ruler sat quietly on his throne, aghast in the dawning realization of what had been done in his absence. Turning to the first bureaucrat, the one who had received five departments, he asked “How stands my Treasury?” Seeking to dissemble, the man replied “My lord, there is some disagreement among the royal accountants, what with different accounting standards, closing schedules, and economic schools of thought…”
The ruler asked again “How stands my Treasury?”
Again the man replied evasively, saying “My lord, it appears – well, most projections indicate that at the close of this fiscal year, barring the inclusion of additional unforeseen revenue streams, it may be – might end up being, somewhat overdrawn.”
The ruler slowly rose from his throne, and addressing the third bureaucrat, the one who had been given a single department, he demanded “You! Answer truthfully! How stands my Treasury – TODAY?”
The man replied “My lord, today the Treasury is but an overflowing storehouse of paper, upon which is a growing record of debt. The gold has long vanished, the silver is but a memory, and every precious thing has been given away. Bonds and obligations have been issued to cover spending, and now the people are being paid in promises alone, as are the dwindling number of kingdoms with which we maintain trade. In fact, our greatest traditional enemy holds the largest part of our debt, and has been enthusiastically financing the massive expansion of your government.”
Hearing this, the ruler let out a great yell, and seizing hold of his collar he rent his garments violently. “How far in debt are we???” he cried.
“My lord,” the faithful servant replied, “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, from the mines below the cobblestones in the streets, to the tops of our highest towers, our nation owes the sum of the total worth of all things within our borders, more than four times over!”
So the ruler, being a just and wise king (when paying attention), slew his bureaucrats, excepting the faithful servant and his department, along with all the bureaucratic staff who had not been in the government’s employ prior to his journey, and even every citizen found to have accepted the ill-got and ill-given largess knowing that nothing would be required in return. So great had been the expanse of the government, and so complete the slaughter, that entire districts were left depopulated and barren as this nation of looters and thieves was put to the sword.
When all these things had come to pass, the ruler again summoned the bureaucrat to whom he had assigned a single department, and said “Oh good and faithful servant! How shall I reward thee? I would place you over the entire kingdom – well, what’s left of it – answering only to myself.”
The servant replied “My lord is just, wise, and kind! But with your permission, I simply desire to locate someone who can provide me with the proper stamps in my passport.”
“You’re leaving us?” the ruler asked.
“I must beg your leave, my lord, but yes. The people have no sense of responsibility, and though left with their lives the very ones who did not partake of the rape of the Treasury now consider themselves cheated by fate, and are loath to pay taxes to re-balance the scales. I am now the most hated man in the kingdom, excepting yourself, and our greatest enemy – who is also our greatest creditor – is marshaling at our border.”
The ruler sat in silent thought for several minutes before asking the question which weighed most heavily upon his heart.
“Can I come too?”