By Dave, Darlington, Co Durham
Millennia ago there was a very clever financier called George Solos. He devised a system of playing the financial markets in such a way that he could convert the universal currency called solar energy into the local energy currency on earth. This had never been done before. He called his system ‘photosynthesis’. The rate of exchange that he got was poor, but Solos reckoned that, if he could do the transactions on a big enough scale, he would make a lot of money.
So he set up a public company called ‘Nature’ to operate the scheme and it was an immediate success. The company employed millions of dealers all over the world to put the system into practice and make money. These dealers were given the name ‘plants’. Many of them set up subsidiary companies in their own part of the world, which were called ‘plant communities’, so that they could co-operate in playing the financial markets together. The most successful of these subsidiaries was called ‘Tropical Rain Forest’.
So successful was it that it accumulated enormous wealth – far more than the dealers themselves needed to live off, so they wisely invested it in stocks and stems and just lived off the interest. When any of the dealers died, their wealth was returned to the parent company ‘Nature’, which invested most of it in endowment policies. These were kept in secret underground vaults and, when they eventually matured centuries later, they were called ‘fossil fuels’.
So great was the income generated by the activities of these dealers that they could live very well without ever needing to touch their investments. Only occasionally, when there was a serious downturn in the markets – caused, for example, by a spontaneous forest fire – did they have to make small inroads into the capital, but it was quickly replaced.
Besides the dealers there were some other creatures on earth, which did not have the intelligence to grasp the niceties of the financial system devised by Solos and so were unable to work on the dealing floors and earn their own money. They were entirely dependent on the dealers for charity. These dependent creatures were called ‘animals’.
Fortunately for the dependents the dealers’ employer, ‘Nature’, was extremely generous and so the dependents were able to live quite comfortably. In fact, in those areas where the trading was very successful, like the ‘Tropical Rain Forest’, the dealers were able to support a huge number of dependents in a very affluent lifestyle. To make their life still better some of the dealers even converted part of their wealth into another currency that the dependents could more easily use. This currency was called ‘food’.
Eventually in one part of the world there appeared a group of dependents who were troublemakers. They were just not satisfied with what they were getting. They were called humans. Actually, they lived quietly as dependents for a few millennia, but then they decided to split off from ‘Nature’ and set up their own independent business, which was called ‘Agriculture’. However, because they did not have the intelligence to understand the financial system (photosynthesis) that generated all the wealth, they had to take some of the dealers with them to work the financial markets on their behalf.
These dealers were simply forced labour for the humans. They were not allowed to invest their money in the way they had done when they had worked for Nature. Instead, the humans slaughtered them every year, appropriated the money they had made, spent it all and started again the next year with a fresh lot of dealers. Although this way of working was useless as a means of accumulating capital, it had the advantage, from the point of view of the humans, that it allowed a much faster and more direct throughput of money from the trading floor to the consumer. Moreover, a greater proportion of this money was in the ‘food’ currency, which the humans needed.
Besides these dealers the humans also enslaved some of their fellow ‘dependents’, which became known as ‘domestic animals’. These were employed to change some of the dealers’ wealth into ‘food’ currency, but they did so at a very low rate of exchange. In fact, they consumed nearly as much wealth as they produced. But they came to be associated with certain cultural values rather than with wealth itself (for example, they became a status symbol), so the keeping of them spread widely throughout the world, even though, in most places, they were much worse than the plants at generating wealth.
This situation continued for three or four millennia, during which time the humans multiplied enormously and spread all over the earth. And the more numerous they became the more trouble they began to cause. Some of the richer ones even tried to make a hostile takeover bid for the huge Nature company. The bid was not entirely successful, but they succeeded in buying a lot of shares in the company – enough to get a big say on the board.
They then used their influence to restructure the company, even though they had no understanding of the principles on which it worked. They noticed that there was a lot of spare capacity and began to close down some of the subsidiaries and make severe cutbacks in others. In this process they served redundancy notices on large numbers of dealers, most of whom later died, because they had no other means of support. This was especially true in the ‘Tropical Rain Forest’ division.
The consequence of this down-sizing of ‘Nature’ was to greatly reduce its turnover. Over the period in consideration it was cut by about a third. But this did not worry the humans, who were not interested in maximising turnover and accumulating capital. They took a short term view, aiming solely at higher productivity and increased share value.
Worse containing the dealers’ old endowment policies. By this time these had matured and were ready to be cashed in. The northern humans began to do this and used the proceeds to set up some grandiose schemes. They formed numerous companies and invested huge amounts of capital in them. Some of these companies, with names like ‘Transport’, ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Housing’, ‘Education’ and ‘Welfare’, were well-intentioned. Others, such as ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Advertising’, were totally frivolous.
One thing that all these schemes had in common was that they all lost money. Even the old and long-established ‘Agriculture’ company was affected by this. It had initially been a real money spinner, but, as the humans began to invest more and more capital into it, the profitability plummeted and eventually it too was making a loss and had to be heavily subsidised from the wealth in the underground hoards. The northern humans, however, failed to recognise (or chose to ignore) that all their projects were losing money and that the only company on earth that was actually making money was the ‘Nature’ company using Solos’s original system of photosynthesis. They also failed to take account of the fact that the supply of endowment policies buried in the earth was limited and, at the rate the humans were using them, would quickly dry up.
Eventually, three or four hundred years after the humans had first found the endowment policies, all the known vaults had been plundered and there was no more ready cash available. So the financial backing for all the human schemes suddenly came to an end and there was a huge financial disaster called the ‘Hedge Row Crash’. Many humans jumped to their death, rather than face a future without easy money. Millions more were completely impoverished and died because the ‘Agriculture’ company, on which they depended for the food currency that they needed, also went bankrupt.
However, many of the humans – mostly those in the southern part of the planet, who had not got so dependent on the endowment policies – managed to survive. They had to adapt to a world of restricted money supply. They were forced to make big expenditure cuts and most of the humans’ companies were wound up. Only the essential ones like ‘Agriculture’ were kept going and even they were totally re-structured. Fortunately many of the southern humans still had the knowledge and skills to turn the company round. Essentially what they did was to go back to the old system, where the only source of cash was the ‘photosynthesis’ money generated by the ‘dealers’. The more extravagant schemes, like the keeping of large numbers of ‘domestic animals’, were scrapped. In this way the company was returned to profitability and financial stability throughout the world was restored.
So the world went on forever.