A Place to Stand
On Green Island
The half-hour trip to Athenia gave me time to check out developments around GI on AGORA - all of the booths on all of the trains had a computer built in for anyone to use, and they were rarely idle. Widespread communication to keep all the people informed of everything they need and want to be informed of is a central necessity for a functioning democracy, and it may be that one of the central difficulties in establishing a true working democracy (as opposed to some sort of oligarchy masquerading as a democracy) in earlier times had been closely related to the difficulty of such communication in larger populations or, in later years, the control of such communication channels by vested interests who saw to it that the citizens received only information the controlling powers wanted them to receive, with spin equally controlled. Here on GI we well understood the necessity of breaking that control, of truly democratising communications and making ALL information available to ALL of the citizens ALL of the time, and with virtually unlimited access to the full system by every Green Island resident, an equally complete range of opinions and commentary on all issues, and the widespread availability of computers and the internet gave us the perfect way of doing so - nowadays, everyone was able to get into the debate, and read the opinions of anyone who wanted to comment, and many people did so. With such a system fully implemented, there was next to no chance that any information would be censored by those who wished to conceal something or push the common consensus in a certain direction by selective 'reporting' and the commentary offered - open source software had finally ushered in the day of truly open government of, by and for us all, and the open and prosperous society of Green Island was the result. Today, of course, and this week, there was quite a lot of talk about the upcoming referendum - not a whole lot of controversy, as the issues had been hammered out in face to face community hall meetings over the last three years and there was little disagreement left (in the great majority) about the central values we wished to enshrine in a Green Island Constitution - but we still had a black coven of trolls careening around the discussion lists trying desperately to turn people away from the future. They weren't having much success, thankfully.
I disembarked from the GRIS-RT at Central Athenia and headed back to the place I had left More the day before with Thoreau - that bench was one of Henry’s favorite sitting and thinking places, and if they were not there enjoying the morning air they would not be far removed, as Henry’s Visitor's Cottage was but a few yards distant. They were not on the bench nor did I see them anywhere nearby, so I made my way to the front door of Brook Farm/Pequod, as this particular cabin was named (the naming of things like this was much more than some kind of affectation - we wanted our people to be well educated in all ways, and a thorough knowledge of history and literature was central to such an education, and if they ran across things like this they were not familiar with, they were usually curious enough to go looking for the source), and knocked on the wooden frame then pulled open the screen door and stuck my head in. The kitchen table, for this was the room the door opened into, still had some breakfast remnants scattered about, but the chairs were empty and the morning newspapers abandoned on the table top.
“Good morning - anybody home here?” I asked. There was no answer, but then I heard voices coming from the far room.
“Hee hee hee,” I heard a giggle, then joined by a “Ho ho ho!!” and then a chorus of "Oooo!!"
Strange, I thought - in our brief acquaintance, I had never known Henry to be much of a laugher, although he showed a considerable dry New Englandish wit at times. I let the door swing shut behind me, and crossed the floor to the opposite doorway, which led to a combination bed-sitting room, the guest bedroom in the small cottage, which also had a master bedroom and bathroom besides the kitchen-sitting room - we had a number of such units scattered around the pond and in other areas of the campus for temporary visitors who were more comfortable in such surroundings than in the larger apartment complexes. And there they were, the two of them, sitting at the table staring at the computer screen (all of our accommodation rooms were computer and internet equipped), chatting animatedly.
“My heavens, gentlemen, and what are you doing?!” I asked as I walked over to join them - I had not had time to show Henry anything about the computer yet, so was quite surprised to see them using it.
“Ah, Bigelow!” said Henry, turning to me with a smile, “and why have you not shown me this marvelous machine before now, eh? I must say, it is quite the most wondrous thing I have seen yet, in this world of wonders!”
“Indeed, Bigelow,” chirped in a grinning More, still only half-dressed, a worn purple housecoat half open over suspendered breeches and still sockless, “the wonders of this age are truly marvelous to behold! It has been many a long year since I have been so entranced by a simple machine! Here Henry,” he enthused, pushing excitedly at Henry’s hand and reaching for the computer mouse, “look at this we've just found!”
- with which he turned to the screen and busied himself for a moment, clicking away, a frown of concentration on his face, as I moved closer to watch over his shoulder. The screen was redrawing itself as I watched - and soon a stylized 3-D map of modern-day London was on the screen. More clicked a couple of more times, and soon it was enlarged so an old drawing of some sort of the Thames River as it flowed by the Houses of Parliament was obviously the center.
“Look at this!” cried More, laughing and turning to me, “London, England, right here on this little window, very much as I used to see it from the Office of the Exchequer! I hardly believe it, it is so huge and different on the other modern picture I have here, but the Parliament is the same, and the Thames - even the Tower still stands, where I spent such miserable time - and that huge wheel thing now! But there is so much, so much - look!” he turned back to Henry, “Where is that bookmark thing, Henry? Where is your home?” he turned once again to me - “They even have Henry’s old log cabin he told me all about on here! The one he built himself by the Walden Pond - here now,” and he looked back to the screen where Henry had found what they were after - the broadband Green Island system was as close to instantaneous as you could get most times on the net. “Look! Isn't it simply amazing? I am entranced, truly entranced! I could spend months here, I am sure, just seeing what they have in this huge library! I still don’t entirely understand how they get it all in this little box though!” he finished, looking at me with a small frown and pointing at the standard GRIL (Green Island Linux) box at the edge of the desk.
The new Green Island Linux system really was a joy to use, finalized a couple of years ago by some of the minds we had freed from their slave-labour day jobs required in the old society. Our true 'productivity' had risen somewhere around 500%, now that significant portions of so many days for so many workers whose time was spent on computers were not spent recovering data or waiting for reboots and reloads from the old Micropoop systems, which were so unreliable - and it was a large ongoing budgetary item removed from the provincial finances too, dealing with upgrades and maintenance and whatnot required by the much inferior previous system. GRIL was now one of our main foreign exchange earners as well, even though Micropoop and the US government were trying to prevent its sale, based on some arcane interpretation of the NAFTA, which the US generally interpreted to mean that they were free to prevent competition from societies or businesses whose government they didn't approve of or were out-competing their local interests or something - typical US interpretation of 'trade' treaties anyway or any other 'treaties' they signed for that matter - we’re free to do as we like and you’re free to do as we tell you or we'll get you somehow. The old 'heads I win tails you lose' game that earlier Canadian governments had been gullible enough to sign on to, or at least they assumed the people were gullible enough to believe their lies about 'jobs jobs jobs' and the other nonsense they spouted to sell such things (a belief that had proven fairly well founded, at least in the Lincolnian sense of fooling enough of the people when you needed to fool them, and who cared what they thought afterwards?). Whatever, the Green Island government had made it clear that we no longer supported such treaties nor considered ourselves bound by things we had not ourselves endorsed, and had disengaged ourselves, declaring them no longer operative insofar as they applied to us (which principle had already been well established by the US government, who were not that fond of having it used against them, however). The question of what right the Canadian government, elected with far less than 50% support of the Canadian people (closer to 25% in most cases), had to sign such obviously disadvantageous treaties and try to impose them on everyone as if they were a new constitution was in front of the courts, and would be part of the upcoming case our lawyers were busy preparing.
“Look, More,” Thoreau spoke up, pulling at More’s shirtsleeve to get his attention, “Will you just look! It’s the whole New England coast!” he had switched sites again, clicking on some of the buttons available on the Walden page, and now there was a full-colour real-time map of northeastern North America; “Look - I swear, there’s Massachusetts, and Maine - and look, over here,” pointing, “why, that’s what that girl told us was Prince Edward Island!” he looked up at me - “Is it so, Bigelow? Is this little place really where we are now?”
“Indeed it is, Thoreau, indeed it is!” I replied, glancing at the familiar screen; “Well done, I must say - although I guess I shouldn't be too surprised - I understand you were quite a traveler and did some travel-writing in your day, and are familiar with maps and their use, eh? But about this whole computer system, Thomas, I don’t know where to begin - but how did you find out about this at all?” I asked, “I mean, it wasn't a secret, but I haven’t had a chance to tell Henry about this yet, and I am quite surprised to see you operating it - and quite well, I should add! - although, of course, we have endeavored to make it all as 'user-friendly' as possible, as we say - and apparently our engineers have done a good job of it!”
“Oh, well, Bigelow,” said Henry, dragging his attention away from the screen, where he had been tracing around the Island with a bit of a critical look on his face about something, “last evening, you see, we were sitting on the bench by the pond having a pipe and wee chat before retiring, and a lovely young lady - quite a lovely young thing indeed - came along and started talking with us - quite forward, really, also, but we humored her for awhile, and as it turned out she was quite interesting. She was studying, oh, what was it, More?...”
More had been listening with a smile on his face, and joined in, “Henry, I’m surprised you forget! She said she was studying old ideas for Utopian societies, and asked us if we knew anything about such things, and you with your friendship with Emerson and those old Brook Farm people, or whoever they were!” he laughed heartily as he finished.
“Oh, yes, of course,” continued Thoreau, chuckling also, “and then we asked her where she learned about such things, and she told us like most of her fellow students she did most of her research on this thing here,” he gestured at the computer, “something called - oh, what was it? The Big World Wide Spider or something - oh, yes, the Internet, she told us. Neither of us, of course, had ever heard of such a thing, and she volunteered to show us. Very forward, I say! She said she thought most little cottages like ours had this thing called a 'computer' (which of course we had also never heard of), and so we looked - she really was quite forward, accompanying two gentlemen into their cottage, shocking! - and here was this machine that we then learned was called a computer. She showed us how to turn it on and use it, and this thing called the Giggle machine or something, it's certainly provided us with no shortage of laughter anyway - well, we've hardly slept the whole time since, Bigelow, it even can tell you how long to boil your eggs, you know, something we had a small disagreement about over breakfast, decided to see what we could find about it here, and have not yet returned! It seems we've traveled all over the world in the last few hours, a world neither of us ever imagined!”
“Bigelow, it’s true!” chimed in More, unable to contain himself in his excitement, “this World Web thing has everything from Heaven to Hell in it, or on it, or whatever you say - quite literally! Saints and Sinners innumerable; Kings and Popes and laymen and artists and every book you've ever heard of and a million more you haven’t! All the countries and world maps! Today’s newspapers from every country and city! It’s like a huge library, with a theater and a cathedral and a parliament and museums and atlases and a commons all mixed together, and people of all sorts sharing their ideas about these things with one! Oh, really, words fail me! A GRoogle here and a GRiggle there (the computer people had modified the Google search engine as well, as part of the GRIL, of course, as More recalled), and it seems there is nowhere at all you can’t go!”
With which he turned to Henry, shaking his head and smiling, and shrugging his shoulders quite eloquently, expressing the inadequacy of words at certain times in a life.
“Not to mention things a gentleman normally wouldn't talk about, eh More?” added Thoreau, with a snarky sort of little grin, something I imagined had rarely decorated that long face, which was answered by no more than a somewhat embarrassed “Oh, well, when you really test the limits of this Giggle thing, you find, well, heh heh...” from More - I didn't pursue it, coming, I supposed, from a somewhat more enlightened age, or less oppressive, at least about certain things. At least here in Green Island, generally - there were still a lot of pretty backwards places on the old planet yet, in terms of sex and other things - things which almost invariably, when examined closely, could be traced to oppression and control of one sort or another. What we have done to the human children of this planet in terms of brainwashing and creating misery will be a long time healing. But at least we were starting here.
“Well,” I continued, as they both paused for a breath at the same time, having in their enthusiasm backed themselves into a conversational impasse or run out of breath or something, allowing me to speak, “speaking of this Internet, it certainly is one of the wonders of the modern age, perhaps even the definitive era-changing machine, like fire or electricity. It has allowed mass communication to become the property of the common man, rather than the property of the elite as it has been for so long, and we have been using it to great effect to help us in our struggles to put some regulations and rules on the elites in our society. But I am sure you will find out quite a bit more about this over the next few days, since everyone you meet, I think, will be using this tool quite a lot, and you'll certainly have as much opportunity as you want yourselves to explore more. But now, if you gentlemen please, and I can persuade you to leave this new toy, we do have an appointment in town, and places to see after that - don't forget your overnighters!”
“Excellent!” replied More, “if you'll just give me a moment to get a shirt on, I shall be right with you!”
And so he was, a minute or two later, shirt and socks and shoes, and reaching for his cane and tricorner - for all the time he stayed with us, he would never lose his habit of formal dress, although it must have been a tad uncomfortable at times. Henry had been dressed, more or less, when I arrived, and just pulled his long black coat on, which he never ventured outside without - he always seemed to have anything he needed in one of the many pockets it contained, although what he used most frequently was, I suppose naturally enough all things considered, a well-thumbed leather covered notebook. Looking back as we left, he remarked, “I do look forward to getting away from here at last - Athenia is a fine place, and the computer machine is wonderful, but yet more wonderful is meeting people and going places on your own, and I've begun feeling just a bit confined and a need to truly stretch my legs! Onward ho!”
And he pulled open the screen door of the cottage, politely ushering More I out ahead of him, into the always beautiful fresh air of the Green Island Athenia morning. Noone thought to lock the door - in the new civility of Green Island, in a society much less rushed, with more time for people meeting and knowing one another, with government and business leaders encouraging good behavior by example, as a few years ago the same people, or at least their ancestors as it were, had encouraged quite poor behavior by their example, stealing was becoming quite unacceptable again, as it had been in earlier times, and trust the natural way of living. It was the way decent people lived, and above all, most of us simply wanted a decent society where decent people could live decent lives. We all subscribed to the Gandhian directive - "Be the change you want to see."
More, Thoreau and I had a short but lively trip into town, as they questioned me with considerable interest about the internet and modern communications and some of the things they had seen, still awed and somewhat unbelieving of the marvel of it (as was I, I had to admit, at times, when I thought about it - like all of the great libraries at your fingertips and more). The few minutes flew, and it seemed like no time at all before we were disembarking from the GRIS-RT at Charlottetown Central, a quite lovely station only recently opened (many, many things on Green Island had been 'recently' done, as we no longer faced the great but completely artificial and unnecessary money problems of previous governments - for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, a policy philosophy that pervaded the previous governments but one that we no longer followed - when the many work for the benefit of the many, with no shortage of ideas or materials or bodies, and not held back by some artificial control on the means of exchange, it was simply amazing what could be accomplished), very near the historic center of the city at the refurbished and redecorated old Dominion Building, which now flew the Green Island Flag, a red heart in a blue sphere with a green border set in a yin-yang wheel on a white background, with outline maps of Green Island on either side, replacing the previous colonial flag of PEI - one thing we did not consider ourselves as was someone else’s colony, and that included Upper Canada.
We exited the station to a scattering of raindrops, rain showers being a not uncommon occurrence in this small island province surrounded by the ocean, where the warm (or cold, depending on the season) offshore breezes meet and quarrel with the cooler (or milder, depending on the season) onshore ocean breezes coming from some part of the North Atlantic Ocean. As an old Island saying has it, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes and something new will come along!” And indeed a minute later the raindrops ceased, although the sky was still threatening, and a freshening breeze from the harbour promised more.
We stopped for a moment, looking westwards down the four short blocks or so of Queen Street sloping gently down to the harbour where events of great interest were shortly to occur, mostly hidden from this vantage point behind the large New World Hotel. It was a typical sort of small town main street, all along its length small shops and offices, no buildings other than the Dominion Building and New World Hotel more than four or five stories tall, most with apartments in their upper levels, red brick and fire escapes and plate glass windows and an array of signs telling what was available. There were a few cars passing along, but now with the modern new electric trams section of GRIS-RT along Queen St running all the way from the GRIS-RT station to the edge of town, intersecting a few blocks up with the Grafton and St. Peter's lines and thus melding almost seamlessly into the larger Island grid through the GRIS-HQ at the refurbished train station further along the waterfront area, most people used public transport of one type or another when coming to town or getting around. Kitty-corner across Queen St from the RT station, the large Confederation Center of the Arts, which housed the city library and the Festival Theater, dominated the view - the Anne of Green Gables musical, a favorite of audiences for decades, had taken on a whole new meaning with the Green Island government, but was still as popular as ever to visitors - a newly written sequel, Anne of Green Island, was currently running neck and neck in terms of popularity. Our destination today was down Rochfort street which ran alongside the Confederation Center, and I guided my companions across the way.
The town was alive with people on such a fine morning, threat of rain notwithstanding, and More and Thoreau were taking everything in, walking slowly and observing, offering comments to one another on things that struck their fancy - the shops in the area along Rochfort St across from the Confed Center we were now passing had been largely redone in their original style, circa 1900, a 'Victorian Row' as it had been called for some years even predating Green Island, and the carved woodwork, painted in various colors, large plate glass windows with old style lettering, and other period decor, in combination with the several trees along the sidewalk and planter boxes of flowers and herbs in many of the windows, made for a pleasant stroll. As we passed one of the sidewalk cafes, More stopped and took my arm, saying, “Say Bigelow, would it be possible to get a cup of coffee here as tasty as the one we had yesterday when we first arrived at Athenia? I think I’d like to just sit for a few minutes, and take things in, you see? This is such a - a - well, a nice spot! - and interesting - and there are many locals here we might have a word with as well, should the chance occur!”
“Yes, Bigelow, I concur!” added Thoreau, “it does seem like a fine and inviting place for a sit, you see, our first excursion into the capital city of your Island - surely nothing is so important that it cannot wait another few minutes! And anyhow, we were so entranced with your internet thing we hardly had time for breakfast, and another piece of toast or something might be welcome, if we are to be traveling this morning... And one does enjoy a spot of sitting and watching, you know..”
I glanced at my watch - we were, actually, a few minutes ahead of schedule. I then looked at the sky, and considered the raindrops. I judged the rain would hold off for at least a few minutes - not that I was any great judge of such things, but it seems guessing about the weather is an eternal human trait.
“Well, gentlemen, I certainly don’t want to deny you any opportunity to observe things,” I replied, “as that is what we are here for, after all, and actually I rather enjoy doing the same myself when time permits, and it looks as if the rain probably isn't going to get serious for a few minutes at least, so I think we might well enjoy a coffee here - and I will say, all of these little cafes do do a very nice job with fresh coffee and pastries, or larger meals as well - as you can see, they are popular. So let us sit, gentlemen, indeed!”
There were probably 20 or so tables scattered along the street in front of the several cafes here even so early in the morning (there would be at least twice that number later in the day, and into the evening), most of them occupied, with people old and young and in between, chatting animatedly among themselves - altogether a pleasant summer morning in Charlottetown, the buzz of conversation and traffic, some birdsong in the background, mostly robins and sparrows, a few squawking starlings and swirling swallows, peace and contentment in the air - life, in other words, as it really ought to be. We were doing ok here, I reflected briefly, as I often did.
I swung my arm in a short arc as a waiter might do, saying “Pick your table, Sir, or Sirs!”
More looked around, and pointed to an open table in front of a cafe with a large sign on the front, 'Zelda’s Zesty Zings'. We strolled over and sat, and within a few seconds a somewhat zany young man appeared with a menu and a greeting - actors were usually characters, as it were, and many of the wait staff at these restaurants were up-and-coming actors working in small roles at the Confederation Theater for the summer, supplementing their income.
“Good morning, all!” he said, cheerily, “I’m not Zelda hahahah, but you can call me Zam if you like. And what can I get you fine folk today? I can tell you, the Frenzz baguettes just came out of ze oven, and are heavenlyzeze!”, touching his thumb and forefinger to his lips and making a smacking sound, eyes half-closed in feigned bliss. "I must apologize, but it is too early for the lovely wings, but we have many other delicious things for you!"
Thoreau chuckled in enjoyment at, I think, the young waiter’s enthusiasm and general joie de vivre and playfulness with words.
“I don’t believe I've seen you folks here before - why don’t I leave you a menu, and come back in a couple of minutes to take your order?”
“Thanks,” I said, smiling back at him, “but we do have an appointment in a few minutes and are in just a bit of a hurry, so if we could have three regular coffees, with a tray of cream and sweeteners, and perhaps a small sample tray of your pastries and muffins, that should do us for now.”
I looked inquiringly at More and Thoreau, and they both nodded their heads in agreement.
“Excellent!” said Zam, retrieving the menu with a bow, “I'll be back in a ziffy hahahaha!”
And so saying he turned with a flourish, to appreciative smiles from all three of us, and disappeared through Zelda’s door.
As the door slammed, a burst of laughter and cheers erupted from a couple of tables pushed together at the cafe next door, where a group of mostly younger people sat around a table with an older man at the end, evidently, to judge from the various attitudes, holding court. The older man was dressed in a somewhat threadbare grey suit jacket over a black t-shirt, which combination matched his greyish, scraggly beard, with an old brown fedora perched on his head and a pair of worn sneakers on his feet, one of which was visible as a crossed leg was swinging a lazy arc through the air as he spoke. His pale blue eyes were somewhat rheumy, but at the moment full of laughter.
“Ha ha ha ha!” we heard his laughter and then words, his voice somewhat hoarse as the other voices quieted while listening to him, “Never, never, never let them tell you you can’t do it, son! hahahaha! That’s exactly what I mean when I tell you about 'in the box' thinking! - YOU must make the decisions that guide your life! - YOU must decide what is possible or not for you to do - sure, you will make mistakes, many mistakes, we all do if we really live our lives - but when you do, you learn the lessons you need to learn to grow and become a better person. Don't worry about mistakes much, just try to avoid the fatal ones, you can't walk to Africa you know - some one of those wise folks said a long time ago, that which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger! If you take orders all your life, you never learn how to make your own decisions, and accept responsibility for them, and for your life! - and then you find too, if you've been taking too many orders from others, why, as you get older, you can’t make any decisions harder than which tv show to watch because you don’t know how!”
The old man’s voice dropped in volume, his words became indistinguishable from the background babble, as some of the younger voices joined in with questions challenging the old man, and we returned our attention to our own table.
“I must say,” More said, looking around, “it certainly looks like a prosperous enough place you have here, and free enough and happy enough! Who’s the older gentleman, some local man of wisdom or something?”
I couldn't help myself, an involuntary snort of laughter overtook me.
“Sorry, Thomas,” I said, “but you’d have to know the history here! I laugh in some pleasure at one of our successes, you might say. Old Mac, as he is known, was for years and years known mainly as the last holdout of the Charlottetown alkies, as they referred to homeless alcoholics. He was normally to be found shuffling along Queen St there where we just came from, or sitting in front of the liquor store just around the corner, begging for nickels and quarters for his daily quart of wine, or two if he was lucky.”
“Really?” said Thoreau, “so what happened?”
“Well,” I said, “in Green Island we believe in looking after everyone and respecting all of our people, and now old Mac has a room of his own just a couple of blocks away so he doesn't sleep on the street or depend on some other charity for a warm bed at night, and a bit of pocket money every day - and we also don’t believe in fostering a societal underclass of any sort, so by and large he is accepted for who he is now - oh, there are still people around who like to feel superior and scorn people like Mac because they have to look down on someone, but as you can see, younger people, more open than many older people to new things, have started to talk to him, and he is saying some things they like to hear, it appears, now that he has a chance. And yes, at times he does seem to be acquiring the reputation of a wise man or something - it's really quite marvelous, I think. It's been a great failure of modern society, the disdain with which so many have regarded older people, who in more community-oriented times were regarded as elders whose words should be listened to.”
“And as for prosperous-looking in general, I know what you mean, and quite agree. You wouldn't know, but it is quite a bit different from a few years ago, when the whole Island seemed to be ready to crumble, on the edge of financial disaster at all times - most, or at least many, of these shops were boarded up and closed for most of the year, except for some being open a couple of months in the summer to take advantage of the tourist trade that many Island governments tried to make the basis of our economy, a losing idea in all respects, in our opinion - but more to the point, there just wasn't enough money around for people to spend - lots of willing workers, but a seasonal economy based on farming, fishing and tourism just doesn't have the diverse, dependable year-in, year-out base needed to prosper.”
“Hahaha - always a problem, that money!” said Thoreau, with More nodding in agreement; “I recall, we tried, or I should say Mr Lincoln tried, an experiment once during the Civil War, called Greenback Dollars - seemed to be working ok, I don’t know what happened...”
“Exactly!” I said, “We have studied the history of money here in some detail, you will be hearing more later for certain, it is really of central importance to everything - the Greenback Dollars were issued by Lincoln to pay for the Civil War - but after the war, the banks persuaded Congress (through some rather questionable means, it appears) to withdraw them from circulation, and adopt the debt-based money supply, controlled by those same banks to their immense profit, which is what we have used here as well for the past several decades when things spiraled out of control for we the people - rather than using the government bank, the Bank of Canada here, to create the necessary money, the governments allow those private banks to create the equivalent amount, and then borrow it from them, and then we're all stuck paying interest on that money forever, in effect. And if there were any unexpected problems, the debt could suddenly grow very large, as it did in Canada and most of the provinces. During the last 20 years or so of the 20th century, in Canada the situation got so bad that all governments were turning over 20 or 30%, or sometimes more!, of all the tax money they collected straight to the banks or similar 'investors', to 'service' the debt they had accumulated - meaning, of course, there was much less money to undertake the maintenance of the social systems they were supposed to be using that money for, for taking care of the people who paid that money in taxes, actually.”
“Well, yes,” said More, “but that is the way things have always worked, isn't it? We have had the same thing happening - when King John wanted to go to war in France, he had to borrow gold from the Banker’s Guild and private nobles to finance it - and then, when payback time came, he was forced to make all kinds of concessions to them. It’s caused no end of trouble, this money stuff, I must say.”
“Exactly!” I said, “Letting a small group of people control the money supply of a country is, in our opinion, insane - it institutionalizes a master-slave relationship in society as a basic principle! - with the master-bankers requiring the citizens to literally beg for the money to use for their daily business - and for a people who are fighting for some kind of true egalitarian democracy, as we were and are doing here, well, we understood that control of the money - of, by and for the people, as that same great President of yours said, Henry, in a very related context - is absolutely the first requirement.”
“Hear, hear!” said More.
“But,” I continued, smiling somewhat grimly, I fear, “such a thing is a GREAT deal easier to talk about than to achieve! Those with the money have been in control for a long, long time, and have used their money to take control of the political system through a series of all-too-readily-bribed politicians, with their levers of control reaching into every area of our lives, most importantly, outside of the provision of the money supply, the branches of government which enforce the laws of the land - the police and courts, and the media which reports on those things, or not as the case may be - at the time of which I speak, the government, the police and the courts, and the media were all quite firmly under the thumb of the bankers and the elite, the wealthy class in the society - although, of course, the illusion was carefully maintained that all were controlled by the people in a modern democratic society!”
“Yes, but what.....?” More never got to finish his question, as a loud, angry-sounding voice interrupted him, accompanied by the sound of a chair crashing to the ground.
“Jesus fucking christ, Bigelow, will you people never give up on that absolute bullshit?!”