Monday, October 11, 2021

Tale 6: President Matt - The First Year (50%)


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

"How can I be President?" 

"Your father died last night."

"But how does that make me President?"

"We called your Dad a President but really he was our king, and the only person who can replace him is you."

"Why would you replace him with me? I have no qualifications. I'm nine years old!"

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

"Dad didn't do anything as President?" 

"He did plenty, but whenever he went against our advice, we always went to war. You don't want the country to go to war do you?"


"So what's important is that you always do what your advisors tell you, because we know what's best." 

"OK... So my dad is dead, I'm the President who's really a king, but the king shouldn't actually do anything, and every time Dad acted against his advisors, he went to war and killed a lot of people?"



Pretty soon, every kingdom in the world was at war except for Matt's kingdom, and it was a very bad war. So bad that most of Matt's subjects didn't want to join it, and most of Matt's advisors didn't either, though a few did, and Matt thought it was odd that he was told to always do what his advisors told him when his advisors didn't agree about what to do. 

But everybody was worried that one kingdom or another would attack them and they would have to go to war anyway. Every one of his advisors had a different solution to avoid war. Matt 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 poor boy President, he has no idea what he's doing and his advisors are trying to fool him just like they tried fool his Dad." 

"Yeah but they didn't always fool his Dad, his Dad knew what kind of scum they were." 

This was the first he'd heard that maybe he was getting bad advice. Matt had to hear more of what these guys had to say so he asked them:

"You think my advisors are scum?" Matt asked.

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

"That's not right." Matt responded.

"No it isn't." said one of them. 

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

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

"There's one man who would give you great advice." said one of them. 

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

"What's his name?" Matt asked.

"His name is 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, he'll give you bad advice." 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. 

"And besides, he insults us advisors to your people all the time!" said a fourth. 

"Why would he insult you?" Matt asked.

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

"Have any of you done anything bad enough to make people insult you?" Matt asked.

The advisors went to a corner and whispered to each other. When they came back a sixth advisor said to Matt:

"You have to understand. Lots of people don't know what's best for the country. We do. And a lot of people are in this country because we were nice enough to let them come. But now that they're here, they always want more things from us."

"Well it can't hurt to give them a few more things. Can it?"

"If you give them one thing, they'll want another, and then another, and eventually they'll want everything we have." said a seventh. 

"Why can't we all just share everything?" 

"Because some people are different than us. They're not as honest or as smart or as hard working. Why should we share everything when we worked hard to earn what we have?" said an eighth. 

"Still, it can't hurt to give them just a little bit more."

"If we give them a little bit more, they will want a lot more, and they might steal it." said a ninth. 

"Do you have any proof that they would do that?"

"Jews aren't like us. And if you make a Jew an advisor, all the other kinds of people who aren't like us will want to become advisors too." said a tenth. 

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 house 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. Matt waited next to a man who looked crazy and kept talking to himself. Matt asked what happened to him, but the man didn't answer. 

Then Matt saw a woman with no legs and a man missing an arm. Matt asked them what happened to them. The woman told Matt she was run over by a train whose brakes didn't work, and the man told Matt his arm was cut off by a machine in a factory.

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

Matt answered them "Can't people just give you some money?"

"Nobody ever gave us any but Lou the Jew. Nobody else cares about us but him." 

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

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

"Ah! Mr. President! I've been expecting you, but 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." 

As Matt left he realized that was the best piece of advice anybody gave him. 

And Lou the Jew went into the office with the crazy looking man who couldn't speak for himself. 


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 that my advisors are bad?"

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

"Are you always right Mr. Jew?"

"Of course not. Nobody's always right, but it's very hard to figure out what's right and what's wrong, and if you want to figure that out you have to work very hard. Even the smartest of us are wrong some of the time."

"Is there anyone who's right all the time?"

"Maybe God, but even he might be wrong some of the time too."

"How do I learn what's right?"

"By working hard. Reading a lot of books, talking to a lot of people, learning what effect your decisions have on other people."

"Did my father make good decisions"

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

"What were his good decisions?"

"He went to war to free the slaves." 

"But war is bad." 

"Most wars are bad, but that war was good." 

"Why was it good?" 

"Before that war, one in every five people in this country was a slave. They had to work the whole day, every day of their lives. They didn't have any rights, they couldn't take breaks, they couldn't spend time with their families, and they ahd to do whatever their masters told them to do. A lot of people who owned slaves didn't want to give them up, but your dad forced them give their slaves up."

"But a lot of people died in that war."

"Many more people died as slaves before he freed them." 

"What's a bad decision he made?" 

"He expanded our country's territory." 

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

"Our country was big enough." 

"Dad always said we would do a better job running those territories than anybody else." 

"We might, but the price is that we're going to be blamed when things there go wrong, and they will go wrong."

"Have things already gone wrong out there?"

"Yes, many times. We threw many people out of their homes who already lived in those territories so that other people could move into their empty houses."

"Why did we do that?" 

"Because your dad thought the people who already lived out there were less important than the people who lived here, and there wasn't enough room for everybody who lived here, your dad sent many of them to live out there."

"Would there have been a way to make life nice for everybody here?"

"Probably, but not without people like your advisors giving up some of their money." 

"Why do they not give it up?" 

"Because they like being rich."

"But they work hard. Shouldn't they be allowed to be rich?"

"Most poor people work very hard too and do much more dangerous jobs, but they don't get rewarded for it." 

"Should we give poor people some of the rich people's money?"

"Not a lot of it, but some." 

"Has nobody ever given them money." 

"Your dad started to before he got sick. He probably should have done it faster, but he understood what his advisors didn't." 

"What did he understand?"

"That if you want our country to stay peaceful, you're going to have to share some of your wealth. You're going to have to make sure your people are paid better, that their jobs are safe, that they have a decent place to live and decent schools to send their kids. If you don't, your citizens will demand it and they might start a war with you over it."  

"Is that why there's a war everywhere else?" 

"Not exactly. There's a war because all those other countries are getting bad advice too." 

"Who's giving the advice?"

"Other rich people who are scared of losing their money." 

"But why does that make them go to war?"

"That's a tough question. You're going to need to concentrate to understand that." 

"That's more than I can understand this late at night."  

"Just think about this. Why hasn't war happened here when it happened everywhere else? It's because of the war your dad fought. We remember just how bad war is, and the reason our country went to war is much better than the reason they did." 

"Is their war ever going to end?" 

"Not for a while longer. And when they do, a lot of the rich people will be gone."

"Who's going to replace them?"

"It may be different people everywhere. But once that war is over, what every country wants to avoid is another war like the one we had, where different groups of poor people fight each other to take over the country." 

"Why would poor people go to war with each other? They've all suffered in the same way."

"The same reason rich people go to war. If they're already scared, they only see what's different about each other and not the same, and poor people have much tougher lives than rich people, so if rich people are that scared, you can only imagine how scared poor people are." 

"How do we stop that?"

"I'm not totally sure, but I think the way to stop that is to give every different group of poor people their own country that wants a country of their own." 

"Is that a lot of countries."

"Yes. It's a huge number, but these different groups of poor people will never get along with each other if they stay in the same country." 

"This is a lot to think about. I think I need to go to sleep." 


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

As President Matt told his advisors the details of their meeting, one advisor interrupted angrily "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!"

"Don't you care about poor people?" asked Matt.

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

"Why can't you?" asked Matt.

"Because eventually they'll want more help." said a third advisor. 

"Why can't we help them then?" asked Matt.

"Because if we help them enough eventually they'll be our equals!" said a fourth advisor. 

"What's wrong with that?" asked Matt.

"If we make them equals, they eventually may want to be our superiors." said a fifth advisors. 

"Like the way we're their superiors now?" asked Matt, sarcastically.

There was a pause in the room for a few seconds until a sixth advisor shouted: "This is always how it starts! Some Jew seems so much smarter than the rest of us and the king makes him his most important advisor. Then the advisor helps other Jews become important people too, and the Jew lies to the King and says that his advice will help everybody, but eventually the king always realizes that the only people who've been helped by the Jews' advice is other Jews!"

"I don't think Jews lie any more than anybody else." answered Matt.

 A seventh advisor asked Matt: "Have you ever dealt with Jews before?"

"No." answered Matt.

"Have you read any history?" asked an eighth advisor.

"No." answered Matt.

A ninth advisor answered back "There's a faraway country called France that gave poor people some of the things they wanted, and the end result was the people demanded more and more, eventually the kingdom couldn't give them everything they wnated, and that caused the poor people to start a revolution. By the end of the revolution killed all the rich people and cut off the head of the king." 

"I didn't know that." answered Matt.

"And then all the poor people went to war with each other!" said a tenth advisor.

An eleventh advisor said "And then they went to war with their entire continent!" 

Then a twelfth advisor said "And those wars lasted for thirty years!"


President Matt had a lot to think about that night. He didn't think any of the stuff the advisors said about Jews seemed relevant at all, but the points about revolution did seem to make a lot of sense. Maybe his advisors were right and Lou the Jew was wrong. 

But Lou the Jew did say that if Matt wanted the country wanted to remain peaceful, they would have to give poor people some of the things they wanted. Maybe Lou the Jew was right, and maybe his old advisors were right too. 

So the next morning, President Matt got up really early and went to see Lou the Jew's office before the workday started. Lou the Jew's door was open and he saw Matt when the President walked into the waiting room. 

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

"Mr. Jew, have you ever heard of France?"

"I've certainly read about it."

"Did you know they had a revolution?"

"I did."

"My advisors told me their revolution happened because the rich gave money to the poor."

"The French Revolution happened because the rich didn't give money to the poor soon enough." 

"Why does it matter when they get the money?" 

"Because by the time the poor people got the money, the country itself was poor. The king didn't have any money to give anymore." 

"Why didn't my advisors tell me that? Did they keep that part from me on purpose?" 

"I don't know. Maybe they kept it from you on purpose, or maybe they forgot, or maybe they just didn't know that detail." 

"I think I would like you as one of my permanent advisors Mr. Jew. Would you come work for me?"

"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 and your advice seems too good to not listen to." 

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

"The honor is all mine Mr. Jew." 

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