Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Tale 6: President Matt - 75%, another rewrite

(there's probably still more to cut)


Once upon a time, in a far off kingdom, Matt was woke up early and told he was President. 

"How can I be President?" 

"Your father's term is up."

"But how does that make me President?"

"We called your Dad a President but he was really our king, and as his son, you have to replace him."

"Why would you replace him with me? I'm not qualified. I'm nine years old!"

"Because the President doesn't have to do anything, the kingdom will run perfectly if the President just does everything his advisors tell him." 

"OK... Can I ask my Dad what to do?"

"We'd rather you didn't." 


Pretty soon, every kingdom in the world was at war except Matt's kingdom, and it was a very bad war. So bad that half of Matt's subjects didn't want to join it, and half of Matt's advisors didn't either, but half did.

Matt was confused. He was told to always do what his advisors said, but all of them said to do something different.

One day, Matt was out on a walk in the park when as he walked by, he heard two poor men talking.

"That boy President has no idea what he's doing and his advisors are fooling him just like they tried fool his Dad." 

"Yeah but his Dad knew they were bad advisors." 

Matt had to answer them:

"You think my advisors are bad?"

"Look at them, look at their three piece suits and fancy cigars, then look at us. We have holes in our shoes!" 

"They just want you to think they're giving you good advice." said the first. 

"Is there anyone who could give me better advice?"

"There's one man who would give you great advice." said the first. 

"Yeah! He's the smartest man in the kingdom!" said the second. 

"What's his name?"

"Lou the Jew."


Matt told his advisors he wanted to get advice from Lou the Jew. 

"You don't want advice from Lou the Jew." said one advisor.

"He'll only give you advice that helps other Jews." said another.

"People only think he's so smart because he's a Jew."  said a third. 

Matt asked. "Why would he insult you?" 

"Probably because he's a Jew" said a fourth.

Matt realized that getting his advisors to send for Lou the Jew was going to take a lot longer than a single day. He tried every day for four months, but they always came up with an excuse not to send for him. 

After four months, Matt decided to leave his big house and see Lou the Jew for himself. 


When Matt got to Lou the Jew's office, he had to wait for a long line of people to see Lou first. 

In front of him was a woman with no legs and a man missing an arm. Matt waited next to a man who kept talking to himself. Matt asked what happened, but the man didn't answer. 

Then Matt saw a boy and a girl around his own age. Matt asked them what they were doing in Lou the Jew's office. They told him they were a brother and sister whose parents died last year, but they had no money and they were still too young to work for another year.  

"Can't people just give you some money?" Matt asked.

"Nobody else cares enough to give us money but Lou the Jew." 

Just then, Lou the Jew came out of his office and looked around at all the people who needed to see him.

"Mr. Jew? My name is President Matt and I'd like your advice on some things." 

"Mr. President! It's so nice to see you here, you're going to have to wait just like everybody else. Come back to me at 9 o'clock."

"But I go to bed at eight."

"Sometimes people with grown up jobs have to stay up late to finish their work." 


At nine o'clock Matt came back to Lou the Jew's office. Lou gave Matt some cookies, and while Matt munched on them he asked:

"Is it true my advisors are bad?"

Lou the Jew answered. "A few of them, most of them are just wrong." 

"What are they wrong about?"

"That poor people can't be helped."

"I can help poor people?"

"Of course, and if you don't help them, they'll get angry."

"Did my father care about poor people?"

"Sometimes. He made some really good decisions and some really bad ones."

"What was a good decision of his?"

"He went to war to free the slaves."

"But isn't war bad?"

"Slavery is worse." 

"Should we go to war with all the world's other countries?"

"That would be a bad decision unless they attack us first." 

"What's a bad decision Dad made?" 

"He expanded our country's territory." 

"But isn't it good that our country's bigger?"

"Our country was big enough." 

"That's a lot to think about. I need to go to sleep." 

"Have a good night Mr. President. I hope we get to talk again soon." 


The next morning, a very tired President Matt told his advisors about his meeting with Lou the Jew. They were not pleased. 

One advisor got angry: "This is why you need your advisors! It's Lou's people, the Jews, who are making poor people so angry because they're telling the poor people that rich people don't care about them!"

"Do you care about poor people?" asked Matt because he wasn't sure they did.

A second advisor said: "Of course, but we can't help them."

President Matt wasn't sure whether he believed them. He had a lot to think about that night. He didn't think his advisors were right, but if so many people were poor, wouldn't rich people have tried to help them by now? Maybe his advisors were right and Lou the Jew was wrong. 

But Lou the Jew did say that if President Matt didn't give poor people some money, the poor people would be angry. Maybe Lou the Jew was right, and maybe his old advisors were right too. But how can two sides of an argument be right at the same time?

So the next morning, President Matt got up really early and went to Lou the Jew's office before the day started. Lou the Jew was already working. His door was open and he saw Matt right away.

"Hello Mr. President! You must be working hard to be up so early!" 

"Hello Mr. Jew. I've been thinking very hard. Maybe I need to hear a different point of view like yours more often. Would you come work for me as an advisor?"

"Mr. President, I'm honored, but if I accept, your advisors will make life hard for both of us."

"Your life seems pretty hard already." 

"Well, Mr. President, if you're ready to make a Jew an advisor I would be honored." 

"The honor is all mine Mr. Jew." 


Lou the Jew's first idea was to have everyone in the kingdom give a little bit of their money to the government.

"Making people pay the government money is wrong!" said the first advisor. 

"That's stealing people's money!" said the second advisor. 

"People should be able to spend their money how they want." said the third advisor. 

Lou the Jew responded: "Mr. President, what do you think people want more, control over all their money or good schools, safe streets, and food that won't make them sick? 

President Matt decided to command that everybody ought to give part of their income to the government. Once they did, the schools got better, and the police made streets safer, and less people got sick from food. 


Lou the Jew told President Matt his next idea in private because he knew that the other advisors would be very angry. 

"My new idea is that people who are injured while they work should get money if they can't do their job anymore. If people can't work anymore, they become homeless." 

President Matt asked: "Why do people get injured while they work?"

"Because our country has millions of people. You need big machines to make things for that many people, and big machines can be dangerous." 

When President Matt brought this idea to his other advisors, they were furious.

One advisor asked: "Who would pay for the workers if they get hurt?"

"Their bosses." Lou the Jew answered.

A second advisor objected. "Mr President! The bosses shouldn't be held responsible for things the workers knew might happen when they signed up for the job!" 

A third advisor offered a different solution: "Why don't workers who are scared of getting hurt choose another job?" 

Lou the Jew responded: "Almost every job for poor people is dangerous. No matter what job they choose they might get hurt." 

So President Matt made a law that bosses had to pay workers who got hurt at their jobs, and after the law passed, there were many less homeless people. 


Lou the Jew's next idea was so dangerous that he knew he had to present it to all the advisors at the same time as President Matt or else they'd accuse him of trying to influence President Matt without their knowledge. 

Lou the Jew's idea was to give women the right to vote. 

This made all of President Matt's advisors angry. 

"Women aren't as smart as men!" said the first advisor.

Lou the Jew answered: "Of course they are! Is your mother any stupider than your father?"

"Why should women get to vote when they don't even work?" asked a second advisor, angrily. 

Lou the Jew responded "Well women should work too..."

"But then women will take our jobs!" said a third advisor.

Lou the Jew responded "Well, you'll just have to be really good at your job so that you can keep it." 

"But how will women know how to do jobs when nobody's shown them how?" asked a fourth advisor. 

Lou the Jew responded very cleverly: "Maybe that's the problem. Maybe we men have been keeping women from learning how to do things so that we get to do whatever we want." 

So women were given the right to vote, and everybody got better at their jobs. 


At this point, the kingdom was so much better than it was before Lou the Jew arrived that President Matt stopped listening to his other advisors and decided to make whatever law Lou the Jew wanted, but the laws Lou the Jew made began to make less sense.  

Lou the Jew's next idea was to ban alcohol. 

"What's alcohol?" asked President Matt. 

"It's like chocolate for grownups, but it's much stronger than chocolate. Imagine if you ate 200 Hershey's bars in a single day. That might sound amazing, but you'd feel really really sick."

"I guess." 

"Well, 200 Hershey's bars are like having one drink of alcohol, and some people drink 20 drinks every day. If grownups stop drinking alcohol, the poor ones would have more money, they'd be better parents, they'd be better at their jobs, and they wouldn't get sick as often." 

President Matt wasn't as convinced by this idea. The President remembered how sick he got once after eating just one chocolate bar. No grownup he ever met could eat 200 chocolate bars twenty times a day. 

But Lou the Jew was right about so many other things that maybe he was right about this too, so President Matt banned alcohol. 

But the grownups drank alcohol anyway, and the alcohol made people even more sick because the government no longer made sure it was safe, and some people were so desperate to find alcohol that they fought and stole from each other. 


President Matt was even more uneasy about Lou the Jew's next idea. 

"My new idea is that poor people should be banned from having more children."

"Are you sure about this?" 

"There are still so many poor people in this country. You know how bad their lives are. Maybe it will be easier to help them if there are less of them." 

"I don't know Mr. Jew. Don't poor people have a right to have kids too?" 

President Matt decided to go to sleep and ask his other advisors the next day, maybe they'd have a different solution. But President Matt's was surprised to learn that his other advisors were very enthusiastic about Lou the Jew's idea. 

The only person in the government who thought it might be a bad idea was President Matt. So he decided to take everybody else's advice. Poor people were banned from having more children, and the results were felt for years to come. 


By late in the first year of Matt's presidency, he had to join war with the rest of the world because President Matt's country kept being attacked by some of the other kingdoms. But by then, the war was nearly over, and Matt's country was on the winning side. 

After the fighting was over, two Prime Ministers from the winning kingdoms came to see President Matt.

"Mr. President," said the Prime Ministers, "You have done such a great job running your country that we'd like your advice for how to achieve peace that will last." 

"I don't know," said President Matt, "I'm still only ten years old."

"And a very competent ten year old!" said one of the Prime Ministers.

"With lots of experience in government!" said the other.

The first said: "Maybe the problem is that we've been looking at our through a grownup's eyes." 

The second said: "Maybe it takes child's innocence to see what we don't see."

"I don't know," said Matt, "so many of my best ideas come from my advisor, Lou the Jew. Is it possible I can ask him for advice?"

"OH NO! NOT A JEW!" shouted them both.

But then, one of the Prime Ministers whispered: "Mr. President, is there a more private room where we can talk?" 

Lou the Jew took the Prime Ministers to his kitchen where they snacked on a special cake Lou the Jew gave President Matt called babka. 

Between bites, one of the Prime Ministers whispered "Mr. President, this has to remain a secret, but the truth is that I'm quite fond of many Jews." 

The other whispered: "Believe it or not, so am I." 

"They are very smart people." 

"And they've been treated rather poorly." 

"Mr. President, if you agree to be the leader of the peace conference, maybe we can do some things to help the Jews." 

President Matt thought for a few seconds and reached a decision: "If we can help the Jews, I'll be happy to be there. But Lou the Jew has to be there with me." 

"It's a deal." 

And so President Matt went to write a peace treaty for the world with Lou the Jew as his advisor.  

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