Satirist seeks Patron

Recovering in the Dumpster this morning with the kind of headache only the cheapest wine can inflict, I was hit with an almost irresistible thought, given my lost life as a literary critic. What if I were to write a "critique" of PMA, Esquire's, ouvre, at Trusts and Estates, asking who is her lineage? As for themes: The School of  James Hughes. As for genre and style: Talk of the Town (E.B.White in The New Yorker at its zenith), Dr. Johnson's peripatetic essays in The Rambler, and Horace, Sermo 1.9 (Horace and the Bore). One strand via Hughes: that of The Bore,  who would be the Most Trusted Advisor, The Privy Counselor, and Man of all Work to Augustus, or at least Maecenas.  (The Roman term for such loyal retainers was "parasite," not a term of respect, admittedly, but look whose talking.) The other strand in PMA is the "virile plain style" of the neoclasscial tradition of the honest man, the plain dealer, the moralist, the candid insider, writing in an easy way for others who are, or think they are. Such a self-respecting person speaks truth to power, and is admired for it by the leader who might behead those whose lips tremble at the moment of truth. Yet, PMA is a woman? That, too, and that is why her work in "family dynamics," and "family governance," or home economics, resonates. The language of strategic reason, the languages of love. Love of the arts, included. Of course, if this post could be blown up to the size of a Doctoral Dissertation in English Language and Literature, I might yet be Dr. Phil, in sky blue robe with the dark blue and gold slashes, and monk's cowl, though I have no pants and am barefoot, as befits an Honest English major with a degree in Philosophy.

For those Trusted Advisors, or Consiglieres, or Secular Priests, new to lit crit, just one question: In PMA's recent essay, "Are You "Wealthy'?," blowing up the School of Hughes, blasting its foundation (unwavering fidelity to the wealthiest, doglike loyalty to the Patron), she happens to leave a meeting of The Bores Who Serve Billionaires, and gets better advice on wealth, wisdom, virtue and happiness, from a cabbie. Was there really such a cabbie? What if she made that up? What if the Bore in Horace is made up, more a 'type' of  the eternal parasite than an actual trusted advisor wannabe on a particular street in Rome 2,000 years ago? Would it be contrary to the editorial policy of Trust and Estates to publish fiction? Could it countenance satire, towards which the style of Horace, Dr. Johnson, and even The New Yorker (see the cartoons) tends? Traditions, like Audrey herself, have an atavistic gene that expresses itself when the civilization it carries is imperiled. As was Rome under the increasingly mad, or corrupt Caesars, as were gouty English royalty in Dr. Johnson's era, during the American Revolution, as are we now as The Wealthy Bear it Away, and the addled masses, around the globe, react and revolt, with the Duck Dynasty Patriarch needing as much help on Family Governance and Family Dynamics as anyone else, as does Trump. And on such "governance," of the grand self within the grand family, and grand family within the broken polity, that the future of our world depends, contested by billionaires and those who serve or follow.

Now, if you will excuse me I must cage enough for another bottle, "the hair of the dog." Failed as a literary critic, failed as a Morals Tutor, failed as a protege of The Happy Tutor,  Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage, may I at least succeed as a Beggar before old age sets in and indigence is friendless and wineless? And so now I: "Pray, Kind Sir, step in here for a moment behind the Dumpster. Let me have a word with you on the QT.  I know you are well connected with Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Geneva, London, the Gulf States. I, though you might not know it to look at me now, am a learned man, a moral man, a wise man, a blameless man, virtuous. These very rags bear witness to my integrity. I have never sold out for the money, or prostituted my talent. I have chosen not to bathe, or hose off, because I am me, the human animal, authentic and incorruptible. Surely, you must know Maecenas? Caesar? Gates? Zuckerberg? Soros? Adelson, Thiel? Might you introduce me? To improve their taste or morals? Mentor their children? Prepare their heirs? Slit a throat? Prosecute a case? Keep secrets? Procure a mistress? Reduce taxes? Build social capital by buying an election? There is nothing that is not ennobled by my Patron's wealth. Nothing no matter how vile need be hidden from me. I have seen it all, and done worse. Pray, Sir, how are your own children doing? Could I prepare them Sir? Can you at least spare a quarter? Just one dime, Sir, and I will let you pass."

The Fur Tunic Episode

Tutor, representing Tess and Audrey both, is in a bit of an ethical bind. In the back of Momma's closet is a superb flapper costume that she bought for the The Great Gastby Party a few years ago at the Castle. Beaded tube dress with fringed hem; shoes, head band, and racoon coat. Now, if you were to open the racoon coat on its hanger, you would see that a two foot by five foot strip has been cut from the back of it. Does Tutor tell Momma or does he not? For you, as a Trusted Advisor, to make the right decision in this Case Study, and get one Credit Hour for Ethics, you do, of course, need to know the whole story.


Last night at bedtime, Audrey wanted a made up story, not a book story. The made up ones are best.  Tutor told her about a girl long long ago, in another era of climate change, when the ice ages came. A girl with - yes - red hair. "But I have red hair!," squeals Audrey, her fists dancing. "Yes you do," says Tutor, "but this little girl has freckles all across the bridge of her nose." "But I have freckles all across the bridge of my nose!," squeals Audrey. "I know you do, but this little girl's name was Audrey!" My name is Audrey!," shrieks Audrey. "Well, then, I should probably tell you a family secret," says Tutor in a stage whisper. Tess who also likes story time, since it puts her to sleep even more quickly than it does Audrey, tenses a bit in her arm chair. ("Tutor," she thinks to herself, "Now what?") "Well, this Audrey in the Ice Age is actually your great, great, great, great, great, great - his voice rises with intensity with each of about 30 greats - until Audrey shouts, "Grandmother!"  "Yes," Tutor, your great, great great......" Tess exclaims, "Please, Tutor can we get on with this!" Well, it turns out to be a very good story about the Cavemen and Women whose tribe - the Neanderthals, actually - though Tutor touches on this aspect gently knowing how self conscious Audrey is about her red hair which science has shown comes from the Neanderthals. The tribe is threatened with extinction. The food they gather is dying out. The winters are longer. Outside the cave's mouth, Audrey, her mother, and father can see snow flakes falling. They are hungry. Momma has boiled bones, dry old bones, night after night and there is no nourishment in them. Unless Audrey and Dad can bring down a Mastodon, the family and the tribe will perish.

Audrey, I should tell you, even at 9.5 will in moments of deep bedtime reflection, sometimes insert her thumb, much as you might sneak a cigarette at a party, or in a moment of deep relaxation, even after you had kicked the habit. Audrey is sucking loudly. Tutor, as he always does, pauses to pull her fist away, making a loud wet pop. Her eyes swivel towards his. The thumb goes back in. The story continues.

Dad tells Audrey that he cannot bring a Mastodon down alone, and the tribe's hunters are too weak with hunger. It is down to her and him. (Sucking sounds, serious sounds of sucking.) Dad helps Audrey sharpen a flint spearhead. He shows her how to wet animal sinews until they are elastic, and then wind the spearhead to the shaft, and dry it by the fire, until it is good and tight.

The last image Audrey and Tess see in their mind's eye, as both fall asleep, is a child, with red hair in all directions, in a fur tunic, carrying a spear by her father's side, framed in the cave mouth, against falling snow at sunrise....


So, now you understand probably about the strip of fur missing from that coat.


Ethical Dilemma: Does Tutor tell his Employer about the culprit? Or, does his Fiduciary Responsibility to his charge mean he must keep her secrets? In times of great stress for a species certain regressive genes are sometimes expressed. What had saved the Neanderthals from total extinction, allowing them to interbreed with the other more advanced hominids were certain traits - like courage, stocky legs ("But I have stocky legs!"), and broad flat front teeth, like miniature piano keys. ("But my teeth are like that, see?")  The point I am making is that Audrey may save, whether she owns, whether she rules. She carries the gene for survival. Knowing that, and knowing that your professional responsibility is to the one who pays you, and perhaps to the Heir you are paid to prepare, do you have any responsibility to the tribe that kid can save? I don't know how you process all this. But I can tell you what Tutor did.


Momma is in her study, shorting the Bank of Brazil. Audrey in her fur tunic, carrying a large, brown, plastic baseball bat (thin grip, very wide barrel, used for teaching little kids to hit a nerf ball), enters, to present herself. Tutor behind her. "Momma, I am sorry I wrecked your fur coat, but I have to save our Tribe." With that she waved her massive club, as Rex the Rescue Dog, ran back and forth, now a mighty hunting dog. Momma glances up from the iPad. "And did Tutor encourage this?" "No, Momma, he did not know." "Very well," says Momma, "Save the tribe, but please next time, ask me first before you wreck my stuff. And Tutor, stay for a moment."

"She is doing well, isn't she?" "Yes, Madame, much better, I should say. More cheerful." "Just as well she is learning to eat what she kills, because Dammit! the Bank of Brazil just rose by three points while I have been talking to you!  I am down by $4 billion. Now,  beat it; I have work to do."

Tess Checks her Math

Tess, on track to own a controlling interest in the world, is both musical and a mathematician; both are one to her. She sees numbers and notes in a symphonic synesthesia. When she relaxes on the battlements with her flute, the whales surface, and seem to dance in accompaniment, with the seabirds. Yet, she is also "good with numbers," and reasons as such. Startled by Brexit, and the new nationalism, she reviews her prior, well advised logic.

  1. Buy companies in the rust belt
  2. Move jobs to China
  3. Break the union in the US plant
  4. Reincorporate off shore and pay no taxes
  5. Reinvest philanthropy in China where the money is made and where 100 lives can be saved as cheaply as one in Flint
  6. Optimize profit
  7. Fund a PAC to maintain the political status quo
  8. Optimize across all countries to do the most good because "All lives have equal value" (Gates Foundation) and "Talent is evenly distributed around the world, but opportunity is not" (Chan Zuckerberg Charitable Initiative).
  9. Look for synergies across bottom lines, i.e., if owning a social media platform in Silicon Valley where programmers command high salaries, use social impact investing to fund a start up to train programmers in Africa to earn one dollar a day; good for them, good for profit at social media firm, good for profits on African startup, on balance good for the world, even after adjusting for wage declines in Silicon Valley. (C.f.,the first program funded by Chan Zuckerberg Charitable Initiative.)

Why then are some of the ignorant, the low information voters, those left behind in the "Big Sort," by IQ and SATs, and by the movements of the market, calling for a return to a time when they did better? Do the Alt Right, Black Lives Matter, Trump or Bernie voters, the followers of Le Pen, simply not understand that when the economic pie gets bigger, and we optimize for human good worldwide, and for the owner's share of the pie, that the interests of the dispossessed at home cannot be weighed in the balance more than a life in India, China, Mexico, or Afghanistan? Isn't it all math, after all? The pie is bigger, owner's share is growing, certain losers suffer. Innovation, Disruption, Creative Destruction. All in all, the totals of human happiness worldwide are trending up. Metrics have been checked. The math is sound. The altruism is maximally effective. What is the problem?

Our once and future queen of a Kingdom?

Tutor is on the bed in Audrey's room, in his slovenly priest's garb, with white shirt and black trousers, his long legs crossed, his feet in Christlike sandals, reading Ovid's Metamorphoses in Latin aloud to Audrey, to as he says, "line her mind with gold." She, as usual, during the court mandated hour of Moral Instruction (in the wake of the Annie Oakley Incident), ignores him. She is sitting on the floor in her Audrey T-Shirt (emblazoned, "Own Rule Save") and faded pink corduroy pants, paging through a pictorial history of Great Britain. "Tutor," she interrupts him, "Why do they always call it a Kingdom when sometimes they have a Queen?" "I don't know, kid," he says, "but when you grow up you will you own it, and rule it, and you can call it whatever you want." "Could I call it a democracy, if I want to?" "Sure," says Tutor, "Now Great Britain has a democracy and a ceremonial queen." "But I want to be the real Queen!" "Of course," says Tutor, "then we shall have a real Queen and a ceremonial democracy." He launches into his own political theory, about the Divine Right of Kings and Queens, the Market as the Hidden Hand of God, SAT scores as indicative of  a Divine Call, and the breeding and training of blood that is bluer, and truer, to our highest nature as human beings and children of God. But Audrey, her questions answered, has lost interest, and is busy teaching Rex how to sit up and beg.

How The Most Trusted Advisors To Concentrated Wealth can Now Capitalize on the Utter Failure of their Professional Actions and Worldview

Tutor and Master Jack are both Morals Tutors to the world's wealthiest, and at times have been Privy Counselors handling the Confidential Dirty Work, and noted procurers, for the King's pleasure. Neither judges those served. What happens in Wealth Bondage stays in Wealth Bondage. Both are as loyal to their Master or Mistress as a dog sleeping on the foot of the bed. Jack says it is his Fiduciary Responsibility. For Tutor, it is a noble tradition as old as fealty, and deference to "degree." The question now is how best to serve dynastic wealth in troubled times. Tess has noticed "the help" on their spare time following Ferguson, Dallas, Brexit, Trump, Sanders, Black Lives Matter, White Genocide, Le Pen, the Alt-Right. She sees Seal Team Seven, armed, trained as insurgents and assassins, and wonders in her paranoid moments if any would betray her. She has read in The Economist that the old globalist game is effectively over. "We," the global managerial class, whose science of justice is economic equations have over played our hand. Few have prospered. Many have suffered. Ecosystems are dying. Water is rising. Things are getting out of control. There seems to be no way to fix it. And we brought it on ourselves. Tess confers behind closed doors with Master Jack. Surely, there must yet be some way to quell discontent, while creating a Dynasty that will last at least one hundred years, like a great flourishing silver beech, rooted in soil, tended by the peasants, the loyal servants, the dispossessed, the roots among the fertile bones?

Tutor's views are very different. Not "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves" as Jack speaks it sadly, shaking his head, and treating it as business opportunity to position his practice as the solution, but as an eternal moral admonition, like, "Ashes to ashes; dust to dust." Or, "Remember, Caesar thou art mortal." Tutor has seen Rome rise and fall, the Tudors come and go, the Bourbons rise and fall. He saw the Magna Carta signed after (as Master Jack ruefully notes) a failed regency. He saw Washington's and Jefferson's slaves freed. He saw the Confederacy fall, and the highest flower of Southern chivalry slain. (Yes, he served in the Big House with Tom and Mammy, and fled on foot with them when it burned.)

With the sorrowful wisdom of failed states, Kingdoms, and Empires destroyed, he is Preparing the Heir, Audrey. He instructs her in Catholic Social Doctrine. (Find the face of God in those who are broken and have least). In Stoicism: there is no happiness or suffering but thinking makes it so. In the riffs of naked Diogenes from his Dumpster, accosting Alexander the Great. In the historical realities of evolution and revolution. In her toybox, as the one valuable present from him to her is a Russian Doll, with mommas stacked inside mommas, down the tiny smallest one. It is his treasure. It was a gift to him from the Tsar's youngest daughter, who died in the pit, with her whole dynastic family,  her vest and petticoats sewn with diamonds, the bullets ricocheting, until at last one found her heart. Yes, Rasputin, the most trusted advisor and Secular Priest had more influence with the Tsar, and had more lovers among the ladies of the court, a fuller beard, and a better claim to a divine call (with his degree in Divinity), but then as now Tutor, a child in spirit himself, was best with the little ones.

Audrey is being prepared as an heir to own, rule and save us all, if history's wheel next pauses on tyranny. If we are to be ruled by persons, with laws flexible to the will of those in charge, those with most, let that person be a good person, wise and virtuous, bred to the task.  For that Tutor prepares her. Yet, as Frost noted about foliage, "Nothing gold can stay." If Fortune's wheel must turn, as it ever will, and the highest fall and the lowest rise, as always has been, Audrey to be prepared must be able to fend for herself. Waiting on tables, walking dogs, serving as crew on a sailing ship, hiding out in the woods eating berries and bugs. For those roles, too, he prepares her. "Naked we come into the world; naked we shall leave it." "Life," he tells her at bedtime, whispering secrets, "is like the sparrow who flies from one end of the lighted warm fellowship hall, and out the other. Here for a moment, from darkness to darkness." Audrey knows the difference when she hears Tutor talk like this, as when he reads dark fairy tales, about children abandoned in the woods, or strangled in a castle, so different from the preaching in Chapel, or Master Jack encouraging her to be a good little girl and work on her "four capitals," and not stick out her tongue.

Will Tess, too, know the difference?

To find the face of God, look up?

Several years ago, as a new Board Member for Interfaith Worker Justice, I was asked to give a talk on philanthropy to the leaders of the worker centers. Having no idea what a worker center was, I showed up with my usual slide deck, "Creating Inspired Legacies for Highest Capacity Donors." Worker Centers, it turns out out, support the poorest and most beaten down nonunion employees in industries like agriculture, food services, hospital care, and poultry plants. Workers self organize to protest sexual and physical abuse, intolerable working conditions, and "wage theft" ( being stiffed on wages by employers who know the precarious worker has no recourse for redress). So, there I was in a small room with maybe 13 workers, the only white person in the room, one of the few without Spanish. An African American man, maybe 37, with grizzled features, hands scarred, with more than one missing front tooth, a worker in a poultry plant, in SC, sat to my left, as I went through the deck all about the needs, yearnings, and unfulfilled aspirations of the world's wealthiest. How hard it is to be very rich, as our faith traditions say it is! At that moment, I heard from him, and others in the room, "Amen." I improvised on St. John Chrysostom, an early Church Father, influenced by the Stoics. "Grace like the sun shines on us all; like rain, it falls on us all." Again, "Amen."

So, I identified with Patricia Angus's recent article at Wealth Management. That "occasional essay" (written to an occasion, as if  informally improvised, though artful) begins with her leaving a high level meeting, at some hotel in some foreign country, of advisors to the world's wealthiest. In such conclaves, over-educated advisors in bondage to wealth, endlessly ask each other, "What is true wealth?" only to conclude that if the client is to have it he or she must hire the Wise and Virtuous Counselor. A shtick like any other; mine (to get naked behind the Dumpster at the Corner of Wealth and Bondage, for spare change) is not much better.  She finds the wisest on true wealth to be the taxi driver, as I found the most gracious among the poorest.

How far do our sympathies extend? When we say "we," whom do we include? Is our "we" demarcated by a zip code, or gated community, by a neighborhood, state, or nation state, or by wealth rating, a gender, a color? When those who have most take the jobs out of Flint, and create a factory in India, and then reason that their philanthropy should go to India, too, because that is where they made the wealth, and that is where a life can be saved cheapest, what will become of those whose lives here have been destroyed by "creative destruction"? What recourse do they have? Trump, Sanders, riots, violence, feckless social organizing, worker centers,C food stamps, crumbs from the philanthropic table....

"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice" (MLK). Patricia is the first person I have heard from within the world of family governance for dynastic wealth to extend the conversation about governance back to the polity. What kind of society do we want? We, including the taxi drivers, the poultry plant workers, the Black Lives Matter protesters, the dynastic wealth holders, those who serve them, the alt right? Do we have a social compact, still, or only a global market? Do we need bigger government or smaller? Left or right? Or, do we need better governance? A "parliament," where people not only issue sound bites, but reason with one another towards an inclusive public good?

When democracy seizes up, the next stage, says Aristotle, who would know, is the strong leader who can drive change regardless. Tyrant is a harsh word. I would prefer to imagine Audrey, our once and future Queen, who, prepared by the Happy Tutor, will own rule, and save us all, with love, wisdom, mercy, and justice. People take good care of their own, whether a dog or a loyal subject.

After Bexit, Trump, and Bernie, How goes Dynastic Wealth Planning for Global Citizens?

Certain advisors to billionaire families say their clients live on a kind of Paradise Island, and that the goal of the advisor is to prevent the family from being deported back to the middle class. How, then, will Brexit, and the populist backlash from Trump and Bernie voters filter into the elite cliques advising the world's wealthiest? In short, have our clients, and we ourselves as their trusted advisors, brought it on ourselves? Were we - for real -  trying to create a permanent global dynastic class? Can we be forgiven if we were? Will our clients not ask us, what moral insanity led us to encourage them to live as if an island unto themselves? What sort of education did we have, Doctorate or no Doctorate, that led us to recommend that the ordinary people eat cake? Can we claim that we do not have an independent mind, that we were merely "serving our clients?" That we knew no better? Can we now begin to orient our clients to a world in which the "head" and the "body" of the body politic thrive together, since no part can thrive alone (wisdom that has been obvious since Aesop, but not to wealth & wisdom advisors at the elite conferences, who still find it uncomfortable to discuss their own contribution to social inequality, injustice, and now political instability). How can we have talked so long about Family Constitutions and Family Governance, and failed to ask what kind of polity can long tolerate dynastic families living superbly apart as if on an island? Will we look back in shame?

I find that I am able now to speak so plainly, since a far better qualified person, Patricia Angus, has. It is as if a terrible silence has ended.

What was Audrey Thinking?

As to why she stowed away, Tutor knows not to ask Audrey. All that will net him is her vigilant eyes turning toward him on their swivel, her lips set, and her fingers clutching the bed covers up under her chin. Instead, knowing her as he does, he asks a better question.  "I assume you had a good set of charts?" Audrey smiles warily. "From here to India?" Her smile broadens, and is less guarded. "And from the nearest port, Dahej, it would be 562 miles to New Delhi?" Nod. "And you were going to use your earnings from being a waiter to feed the starving dogs there?" Audrey nods.  "Why did you not ask Momma first, Audrey?" Answer: "Because Momma would not let me!" Tutor leans down to whisper in her ear, "You are going to make a very fine Queen, Audrey, because you always know best." Audrey says, "Right!" But she and Rex are both very glad to be home, and we are glad she is safe and sound.

Audrey is home safe, thank Heaven

Where has Audrey been?, you have been asking. I had not written because I had not wanted to worry her many friends and well wishers, until the danger was past. Audrey, one dark night, rowed the skiff to the mainland, where she commandeered a three masted sloop. The crew was in the tavern. She took an axe she found on board and chopped the mooring lines. She and Rex were found several days later adrift on the high seas by a Coast Guard cutter. Audrey has not wanted to talk about it. When her distraught mother upbraided her, all Audrey would say is, "You are not the boss of me!"

"Are you Wealthy?" asks an Advisor to the world's wealthiest

Patricia Angus at  The future is different now, because Patricia Angus had the ability, the position, and the courage, to send this essay along to her editor. If you are a wealth advisor whose clients have a fraction or a multiple of a billion, please read the article more than once. The conversation of Dynastic Wealth Planning will now shift to the role of wealth in a just society, and role of good governance (not big government or small government, but good government) in an era of creative destruction, in which so many have been destroyed and so few have grown so phenomenally rich. Wealthy families, of course, can be good or bad, but the only one who deserves to be our once and future Queen is Audrey, and The Happy Tutor shall be her "power behind the throne"! Well, no. When she comes of age to own, rule, and save us all, Tutor will be exiled, as he always is, until the new baby comes along. However the world goes, whether the rich rise or fall, every kid needs a Morals Tutor to ask how wealthy she really is.... Every time Tutor does that he ends up chasing Audrey around her room in the Castle as she shrieks, "I am really rich, Stupid, what are you?"