4.Corruption in High Places
This chapter illustrates two of the fundamental principles in the use of corruption to facilitate efficient function of the society. It is paramount to realize that no segment of government is immune from its reach, and this is as it should be. Even the most insular segments which appear to function over and above the daily economic strife may be found to be useful under certain circumstances. Remember that the circulation of money stimulates all forms of good. Whenever profits may be realized from a new enterprise there will be associated employment, money to spend, and taxes for the government from which the good and welfare of the society flows.
Unfortunately, it is occasionally true that the immediate effects of corruption may inconvenience a small segment of the population, but it is the overall good of which we are speaking, and the flow of profits will in the long run benefit most of the people. A good example of this second principle is the necessity for unemployment in a democratic society. Although full employment is variously described as three percent unemployment in the views of the most optimistic liberals ( never as everybody working) we know that society functions best when the unemployment rate hovers around seven percent.(3) Although on the surface this appears to inconvenience seven out of every hundred able persons, actually it provides greater benefits to all.
This unemployment rate provides a premium core of jobless competing for positions, which guarantees sufficiently low income levels to assure profitable margins for business. This latter effect is, of course, desirable for the continuing successful functioning of a free enterprise system. The continued development of new goods and services will result in a better standard of living for the majority of people and in addition provides the stimulus which is necessary to enhance the dreams and aspirations of everybody with a television set.
The taxes provided by such a stimulated society provides enough money in unemployment insurance and welfare benefits to those fortunate enough to lack a job, so they can continue to function. They probably make more than would if fully employed at a low level job commensurate with their experience, — if they had to pay taxes. This is borne out by the large number of employables who would rather have unemployment insurance and relax than work anyhow.
In summary, therefore, the two principles elucidated are:
1. No level of government is immune (or should be immune) from corruption.
2.The inconvenience of a few, particularly if temporary, is acceptable in the face of a good profit.
3Harding,W. How a Society Functions Best Little Brown & Co. Publishers, 1932 Boston, pp 68 – 69.
Weathering the Storm
Pete Lorillard was known as a ‘ wheeler dealer’ among his associates. Somehow each of his projects had managed to furnish a neat profit, part of which frequently served to stake his next deal. Whether he was into stock transfers, real estate or restaurants made no difference — everything seemed to work to his advantage. His latest ploy was arranging jazz festivals, and the quick profits were huge.
Pete sat quietly in his penthouse office contemplating his latest project. He looked out on a magnificent view of the rivers uniting at the lower corner of Manhattan, flanked by other large office buildings and apartments. He loved the twilight best, with twinkling lights beginning to appear in many windows, the large ships docked along the wharves and the silence of the sky threaded with thin wooly clouds variously covering golden segments of the setting sun. The city was quiet at this time in anticipation of a new exciting night alive with restaurants, clubs and discotheques filling slowly with happy people — the livers who knew the best New York had to offer.
He wondered sometimes about his constant drive for success, for money. He couldn’t resist a temptation to organize a deal which smelled of success, even if the odor it bore was only a faint trace. His mind wandered back to his blue-eyed, blonde high school sweetheart who had jilted him for that fat dental student. No class, he thought, no style. Maybe he invite them for a dinner at his private table at Rouge et Noir, the best new French restaurant in New York. Drag her out of her Westchester kitchen so she can see what she’d missed.
His valet stood at the bar preparing a large scotch over ice and a few dry roasted peanuts in a small dish. Pete called him “Cato” after the Green Hornet’s sidekick, but his rather muscular frame and Brooklyn accent guaranteed no confusion with the original.
Pete’s most recent project had begun to develop in April with a few scattered posters announcing a post summer rock festival. Interest was slow at the start but began to grow with the passing months and further advertisements. He had already banked 450,000 dollars in advance sales with an outlay of $50,000 for the farm, $100,000 for the rock groups, $50000 for promotion and audio, a neat profit of a quarter of a million already, and anticipated continued sales of at least another 3 million. What a snap, he mused.
Cato looked up. “Boss, I’m worried.”
“Forget it”, replied Pete, A”this thing’s a snap, can’t miss.”
” We ain’t got no leeway this time. Labor Day’s the last day of vacation for most of these kids. If we get rain they ain’t goin’ to trek out fifty miles to hear some kooky music. It’ll kill the last minute ticket sales.”
“Cato you worry too much. You know me better than that. It’s not going to rain. We’re going to have sunshine. S u n s h i n e. We’ll clear another half million in sales by show time.”
“You can’t fix God. If it rains the place will be empty. If we don’t get a turnout there’ll be a demand for rain checks. That farmer ain’t going to give us the place again. It could be a disaster.”
“Cato, calm down. Pour yourself a long one and relax. It’s taken care of.”
Pete leaned back in the leather recliner he used for a desk chair. He let his feet rise slowly so he could savor complete relaxation. His fingers closed gracefully around the icy glass as he sipped the cool scotch. He gazed out on the city below, the warm glow of evening rising by stories up the concrete giants lining the river.
“What a town,” he thought.
Sunday, September 6:
Louis Johnstone entered the long paneled office on the ninety-eighth floor of the Empire State, shook his umbrella, unhooked his rubbers, quietly removed them and sat down at the head of the long polished oak table. What an awful weekend, he thought.
He glanced slowly around the wood paneled walls covered with maps and charts. The large gleaming barometer sat encased in a crystal cage near the door. “Already dropped a full inch since yesterday.”
The door opened and in twos and threes the other members of the panel filed in, took their seats and began intimate conversations in soft cadenced tones. Four soft bells tinkled and brought the group to attention.
Johnstone waited a moment, fingering the white formal papers before him, assuring absolute silence. He began to read calmly, gathering a certain rhythm as he became more animated.
“Gentlemen, things look bad for tomorrow. There’s a heavy low pressure area moving in advance of Hurricane Filomena (“who on earth selected that name,” he thought) with winds increasing to forty knots by the morning. The barometer is at twenty-nine inches and still falling. Weather stations in the Carolinas and South Jersey have reported heavy rains heading our way with gale force winds. Two ships off the coast are foundering at the periphery of the storm but there’s no sign of it heading out to sea. We’re in for it.
He glanced at the stiff white bloused Vassar graduate who was taking notes, rose from his chair and turned to the large curtain behind him. With a flourish of his arm he grasped and pulled at the long cord. The heavy curtains parted revealing a huge picture window facing the bay. Splattering droplets danced against the pane, leaving long trails of minute rivulets on the glass.
“Okay I suggest we move ahead to the final prediction for tomorrow. I would suspect that a lot of picnics may be disrupted. May we have a show of hands — How many of you think it’s going to rain tomorrow?”
Johnstone’s hand shot up into the air as he looked down the long table.. The other nine men sat motionless, no one moving, no one talking.
“Perhaps I wasn’t quite clear. We must vote now. Look at the window! We had it installed to improve our forecasts. Use it by God! What the hell do you think is going on? You think the American eagle is up there pissing on us?” Johnstone was flushed with anger. He realized he had descended to a level of conversation which ill befitted a Harvard graduate. But the change in his demeanor was engendered by the sight of his motionless peers and was too difficult to control. Quietly he calmed himself, composure slowly returning, he faced the group.
“Gentlemen, perhaps another vote is in order. Those believing that it will rain tomorrow please raise your hands.” He peered at each stony face in sequence.
“Put your hand down Bess, your vote doesn’t count.” Again embarrassed by the deadly silence — the motionless men avoiding his searing glances.
“Okay, okay”, he said finally. “Bess you will report that the weather bureau predicts a ten percent chance of rain for tomorrow.”
Sweat beaded his forehead. He tried to calm himself, slowly glaring at the figures along the table. “Gentlemen the meeting is over and I want to thank you for your efforts today. And it is my fervent hope that you may all promptly go fuck yourselves.”
Monday, September 7:
Henry Gallagher couldn”t believe what was happening. Since he had become sheriff of Woodbridge he had led a calm life, an occasional drunk driver being his most exciting experience. But now this.
He wiped the mud from his shin as he extracted his feet from the soft earth. Before him stretched tens of thousands young boys and girls, shivering in rhythm to the beating rock music blearing from the loudspeakers, but mostly seeking cover under blankets, dresses, anything that could protect them from the pelting rain. Streams of mud poured down every rise of the farm and lodged in soft pools around the listeners. Loud cheers went up with every new beat, huge claps of static blasted out with every spasm of lightning.
With screams and cries people were looking everywhere for cover, but the farm was almost barren of buildings. Six hundred boys and girls, having read somewhere that intercourse could keep one from freezing to death, were for the first time in their lives applying book knowledge to a real life situation.
“Hank, where’d they all come from? I thought the rain would wash this thing out.”
Henry saw his deputy Sam Martin plodding ungracefully through the muck toward him. “They started piling in last night. That blasted weather report predicted only a ten percent chance of rain today. Those bastards must be blind as well as stupid.”
“There’s a riot of four hundred kids over in the east meadow. They can’t keep their joints lit in the rain.”
“Let ’em riot. I can’t even get anybody mobilized to cover the center area. This is impossible — the temporary toilets won’t flush and all the roads are out.”
Just then Bob Markham a second deputy flashed a signal in his walkie talkie. “Hank, Im over near the center stage. The Scuba Tuba won’t go on.”
“What? What the hell’s the Scuba Tuba?”
“Some rock group. They claim they got five inches of rain in their instruments and can’t get it out fast enough.”
“Just keep someone playing, damn it! If they don’t keep playing there’ll be a riot.”
A loud shriek went up from the left. Hank snapped his communicator on. “George, George, come in. What the hell is going on out there?”
“They’re water skiing”
“What? What the heck are you talking about? There’s no water.”
“That’s what you think. Some kids got water skis and they’re skiing down the hill in the mud. They’re cheering every time someone makes it to the bottom. We got two broken ankles over here already.”
The music crackled through the loudspeakers as the winds began to rise. Streaks of lightning flashed through the sky. Henry grasped the door of his patrol car and fingered the inside panel. “Maude – get me the state police on the radio.”
“Hello, hello. This is Henry Gallagher at Woodbridge. We’re gonna have a riot here soon. This jazz thing’s been going on for four hours and the storm’s increasing. Hello?”
“PY-51 state police office. Will contact patrol units and report. Over”
“Listen, you guys have got to get us out of this. We’ve got thousands of cars and kids piled up here half stoned. We’ve got to clear the area. Whats the story on the roads? Can we get them out?”
“PY-51 Negative, Over”
“What the hell you mean negative? With all the beer we got flowing up here they’re gonna change the name of this town to Piss River in another hour.”
“PY-51. The roads are blocked by the marchers heading your way. The highway’s blockaded. Must be thousands. We can’t move anything. Over.”
“Marchers? What marchers?”
“PY-51. I’m not sure — they’re women — thousands of women — carrying signs reading ‘HADASSSAH’ — and they claim they’re delivering eight thousand umbrellas to your area.”
The clean white schooner clipped its way through the foaming ripples on the calm sea. Pete Lorillard lay contented on the deck on his cushioned contour chaise.
His mind cleared – and rode silently with the rolling waves — up and over, up and over. He reached gently toward the neighboring lounge and ran his hand over the long soft hair – down the curved smooth spine and stopped for a moment on the rounded buttock of the beautiful young lady lying alongside him. He felt the tender squeeze on his arm.
He looked at the crystal sky – not a cloud anywhere – and felt the gentle heat of the sun enveloping him. First his feet, then his legs, abdomen, chest, neck, – like a warm furry blanket. He lay back and sighed .”With all this,” he thought, “who needs money !”