The World Turned Upside Down

When one people, perhaps better organized, with a better Leader, conquered another, erased the loser's histories, tore down its monuments, killed or enslaved the men, burned its sacred texts, raped and impregnated the women, slew the innocents, profaned the altars, then came new histories, new monuments, new laws, a new king, new coinage, new standards for a promotion, new ribbons for National Heroes, and improved standards of decency. More civilized than the savages rightly put to the sword.

When the truth is unspeakable, guilty, when it is the truth of the marginalized and subordinated, then it is best spoken without being heard, hidden in plain sight. Told in parables, fables, allegory, and jokes; overheard, not heard. Stirred up from the bottom, this is Carnival, or Mardi Gras, madness, licentiousness, the promiscuous intermixing of high and low; riot, drunkenness, abandon, the mad world of Dionysus, the god of Alexander the Great, even now in New Orleans, staged in status contest, and as good business, by the town's elite. Stirred up from the bottom (first Carnival, then Lent), it is the crucifix after the fact, held up as an object of worship - holy, holy, holy. The priest who at midnight fornicated with the mayor's wife on the altar, as the drunken crowd (including the mayor) cheered, gives the Lenten sermon in the same cathedral, and rightly so. Coming and going, both are true, just not all at once, which is why the liturgical calendar endlessly repeats, to accommodate the whole truth.

From the bottom up, the world turned upside down, what do we do with the unthinkable, the unspeakable, at least half our moral truth?  We call it art and hang it on the wall in the rich man's house. We wear britches, at times, and sometimes not. In the confessional, in a whisper, the Mayor's wife confesses her adultery, accepting penance, again on her knees. So, Wealth and The Will of God sprinkles holy water on Wealth Bondage, as priests have long blessed fleets headed off to war. On the priest's performance, no less than the whore's, Wealth Bondage, my generous patron, has built a resilient brand. May God be thanked.

Ah, Master Jack, ye knew this already, did you not? And because you do, you consider yourself Wise, having tasted the tree of knowledge, and become as a god? Such are the double-sided-truths, like the emperor's coin in the fingers of Christ, young Audrey must learn if she is to own, rule, and save, in this fallen world? That is why Tess must keep you on retainer as her most trusted advisor? Her consigliere? Secular Priest? Man of all work? Mentor to Youth? Yet, look! There Audrey is, with Tutor, hopping about like a Well Prepared Hare.  Perhaps, one day, it will be your head on the block in Tutor's dungeon, or on a raised stage as a spectacle, lesson, and entertainment for the rabble.  But, be assured, that as a Professional Courtesy, as one Trusted Advisor to another, in my capacity as the Omniscient Author Function, I will do my best to give your inevitable fall a comic turn. At least, you can be sure I will find it funny. And sometimes laughter is contagious, the best cure for the plague we spread as healers. And if you, too, smile, then all is right with the world. The laughter then passes, the wheel turns, and we can all get back to our serious business.

The Cornerstone of Wealth Bondage is the Will of God

"Bring me the stone the builders rejected, that is the cornerstone," remarked the uncanny one, passing the builders, who were building, I assume, the equivalent of Wealth Bondage, founded upon bedrock: Wealth and the Will of God. Yet, he was suggesting that the building would be torn down, to put it on another foundation altogether. The Will of God expressed through talents of silver, and a kiss, too. That is Wisdom, of the worldly sort, the foundation of Wealth Bondage then and now.

Audrey's Escutcheon - Intellectual Property of Wealth Bondage - Used with Permission

Just to be clear, of course, Audrey can still use her Escutcheon: Own Rule Save, it just has to carry a trademark, since it belongs to Wealth Bondage. She may use it as a Qualified Licensee, as long as Tess maintains $1 trillion or more under management with The Private Bank of Wealth Bondage, which should not be a problem.

Wealth Bondage: Own, Rule, Save

Depressing, I guess, to some, but inevitable. My Immediate Superior, and Generous Patron, the booted one, she who rules us all, Mistress Candidia Cruikshanks, CEO of Wealth Bondage, Goddess of the Free Market, has, in effect, stolen Audrey's flag - Own Rule Save. "Fuck, yeah!," Candy said, when she heard it. "That is the perfect tagline for Wealth Bondage. Sounds so fucking sincere. Sweet little Audrey can grow up and have a beneficial interest in a controlling interest in all the world's wealth. But who the fuck do you think will control the controlling interest?  Little Miss Sweetcakes?  Or me, the CEO of the Private Bank of Wealth Bondage?"

"Tess," Candy says, "the way she is going will soon own the world, then it will all go into a fucking Dynasty Trust, in a state with no limit on perpetuities. Master Jack will be Audrey's Trustee, and her Secular Fucking Priest, to bring her to her knees: deferential, passive, helpless, and ever so grateful for being Mentored by a modern Day Emissary from Athena (namely me!). Master Jack can teach her to meditate. He can recommend therapists. He can improve her Social Capital and reduce her Social Liabilities, like that big mouth of hers. And as for that educated idiot, Master Jack, I own his preppy little ass. I own the Bank of Wealth Bondage, I own the fucking Trust Company. I have the whole fucking world in Assets Under Management. I rule the world by proxies. O! Wait! I also save the world, kiddies. O yes! Why the fuck wouldn't I? I  own it! If I didn't own it, why would I even give a shit?"

"As for little Miss Muffett's precious flag," says Candida, "did she copyright it? Trademark it? O so, so sorry, kid! It was in the public domain. Not any more. You want fucking moral instruction, Princess? How about life lessons for real. Kiss my boots, you redheaded bastard! Spawn of Wealth Bondage, conceived by a whose who of my mutts on the trading floor. Own rule and save. My ass!"

Makes me sad, really, but "there is," as we all know, "no outside of Wealth Bondage." Let Audrey have her childhood. In her future is nothing to envy. A bird who will sing in a gilded cage, as Master Jack feeds her little bits through the bars.

Wealth Bondage Tagline Crowdsourced

Wealth Bondage is variously a Trust Company controlling most of the world's dynastic wealth (which is to say 51% of the world's wealth), neoliberalism considered as a worldview, a Carnival, a Musical, a Market for all things Spiritual, Wisdom Incarnate, a Brand of all Brands, my generous patron, my employer, and a triple bottom line social venture. On special assignment from Mistress Candidia, herself, I am to crowdsource and focus group test a new tagline. We have narrowed it down to four words have to get it down the three. I would appreciate any input you might have.

Wealth Bondage: People, Planet, Profit - My fav but too close to Pepsi's.

Wealth Bondage: Pleasure, Polity, Planet

Wealth Bondage: Profit, Pleasure, Planet

Wealth Bondage: Profit, Pleasure, Polity

I like Polity because it hits off the idea of a well regulated or just society within the overall framework of a Trust Company, and Consumer/Citizen beneficial interest in Dynastic Wealth. But Polity is a little intellectually pretentious for our target market. Profit, Pleasure, Planet seems right. But which should go first? I am thinking Profit goes best in the middle, balancing pleasure and planet.

The Pancake Protocols

Usually, it is Tutor who finds himself locked in his cell, for insubordination, or some kind of misbehavior. Today, it was Tess who barred herself in her room, to duel long distance with George Soros over who would break the Central Bank of Brazil. This left Tutor free to roam the Castle, and at midnight to arrange a secret and forbidden feast of blueberry pancakes for Audrey. He whipped up ten large ones for her, and five for him, as she sat swinging her feet, in her footed pajamas, at the kitchen counter, long past her official bedtime. So, there she soon sat, before a pile of ten, large pancakes, more than any child should eat, particularly with butter and real maple syrup. Just before giving her the fork, Tutor attempts a "teachable moment."

Tutor: "That is a lot of pancakes!"

Audrey: "Give me the fork!"

Tutor: "Please?"

Audrey: "Please! Give me it!"

Tutor: "You know Momma has not eaten one thing today; she was locked in her room conquering Brazil."

Audrey: "Give it to me!"

Tutor: "Do you think Momma would like some pancakes? When she gets hungry tonight? Should we maybe save some for her?"

Audrey: "Pancakes are not good for Momma! They rot her teeth! Pancakes make Momma hyper!"

Tutor: "Maybe one?"

Audrey: "But they are my pancakes!"

Tutor: "Momma is big, you are small. What would be fair?"

Audrey: "Equal? Five? But they might make Momma sick!"

Tutor: "She has five then, I have five, you have five?"

Audrey: "So I have to share and you don't? If I have to share, you have to share!"

And so it went down. Now at 2 am Tutor is just finishing cleaning up. In wanders Momma, $1 b up for the day, and with a moment for a bedtime snack.

Momma: "Funny, I thought I smelled pancakes....."

Tutor: "Impossible, Madame, pancakes as you know are forbidden. Empty calories. Bad for her teeth. Makes her hyper."

Momma: "Do not lie to my face, Tutor, or it will be back to the Dungeon forever!"

Tutor: "Well, Madame, pursuant to my official duties, as Morals Tutor for the Future Queen, I saw fit to mingle the "sweet with the instructive," as Horace says we must, in his Ars Poetica, as you well know...."

Momma: "Cut the crap."

Tutor: "Fifteen pancakes were made."

Momma: "They were made? You made them, you mean."

Tutor: "I made fifteen, took five as my Comprehensive Cook and Trustee Fee, and gave Audrey ten."

Momma: "My God!"

Tutor: "And we discussed fairness. How much is enough for a child."

Momma: "Or for you."

Tutor: "Yes, your highness. But as you well know, moderation is the soul of virtue. Audrey felt it would not be right to give you any pancakes at all since you might develop a taste for them, gain weight, rot your teeth, become hyperactive, and maybe even get diabetes."

Momma: "So you and Audrey pigged them all down?"

Momma, hungry, opens the refrigerator door, and there are seven and one half large pancakes covered neatly with Saran Wrap.

Tutor: "Half of hers and half of mine. We thought that would be fair, if it please Your Ladyship."

Momma: "It is hard to reprimand you properly, Tutor, with my mouth full of pancakes, but insubordination must not be tolerated. It is not just the pancakes, it is that you went behind my back to disobey a direct order. (These are quite good by the way. The blueberries do make all the difference. Pass the syrup, please.) You are confined to quarters until further notice. Get out of my sight!"

And so it goes in the Castle. Master Jack the next morning reinforces with Momma that she made a wise decision. Audrey is already a wild child. Tutor sets an atrocious example. Pancakes are only the beginning. A firm hand with Tutor! He is a Force of Disorder. And Audrey could go either way without Wise Counsel, which is by the way included in Master Jack's Comprehensive Trustee fee at no extra charge.   

Teaching Self Control to Those who Will One day Rule us All

"Momma! Momma! Come quick!," cries Audrey, racing into her mother's room, "I killed him! I killed Tutor by mistake!" Momma runs quickly to Audrey's room, fearing a repeat of the Annie Oakley incident, but there is The Happy Tutor rising groggily from the floor. It seems that he and Audrey had a contest to see who could hold their breath the longest. "I am so sorry, Madame, this is the first time I ever lost."

Moments of Truth for the Courtiers to the King

Simony "is the act of selling church offices and roles. The practice is named after Simon Magus who is described in the Acts of the Apostles as having offered two disciples of Jesus, Peter and John, payment in exchange for their empowering him to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to anyone on whom he would place hands." (Wikipedia.) In other words, he was a magician who wanted to learn how to work real miracles, since these might command a higher price, in the logic of the marketplace. Against this is the saying, roughly, "You can commit any sin and be forgiven, but the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven." I take this to mean for my own use the following: When the moment of truth arrives, evade it as we will, by speaking in parables, we must offer ourselves to sacrifice, or the spirit will desert us; and also that if we blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and take the name of the holy or the wise or even beautiful in vain, the tongue will rot in our mouths, and whatever eloquence allowed us to lie well, will ebb away, as Milton's Satan ebbs from sublime at first in Hell, to little more than a worm.

Jesus also said, in various Gospels, some Apocryphal, as he walked by Trump Tower or some other then colossal image of Excellence, "Bring me the stone the builder's rejected. That is the cornerstone." I take this to mean that worldly power will collapse and the first shall be last, the last shall be first, and the meek will inherit. Among the meek are the children, women, the poor, the outcast, the sick, those imprisoned, those on the margins, those on the outside of whatever wall we build. 

Cordelia cannot heave her heart into her mouth to enact rituals that enable those who are unwise or unjust. She will not bear false witness. When asked why she will not comply with the rituals of wealth and power, on whom her own well-being depends, she finally says, "Nothing." And is told that "nothing will come of nothing," and nothing does. She is disinherited, the King as deranged exemplar of the body politic goes mad, and not even a Fool, nor Cordelia, or Kent the Faithful Servant, nor healing music, can restore him for more than a moment to sanity or peace.

Many today say nothing in the precincts of wealth and power. Those are the wise ones. And I do not mean they are silent. One story, Lear, ends with bodies pulled from the stage. Another, more hopeful in a way, with the harrowing of hell. How do the wise today see this playing out in the precincts of Private Wealth? Should we ask them?

"On The Sociology of Wealth, 2016" by H. Peter Karoff

H. Peter Karoff, the founder of The Philanthropic Initiative, in the attached paper, provided here with his permission, addresses the clients of a wealth management  firm whose minimum net worth client has $75 mm. Peter is speaking with, not lecturing to, the humans sometimes termed Wealth-Holders or Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals. The context is a country, an increasingly disenfranchised "electorate," of consumers, awakening in addled fury to wealth inequality, and their own increasingly diminished life chances. Peter feels the pain of the marginalized, but also (we are all one body politic) that of his audience: 

No one likes to be put on the defensive in the communities where one lives. No one wants a diminution of family self-worth, of increased fear, of unwanted exposure, or be forced to live an ultra-private life, or be constrained to speak out or play a lead on important social issues about which one feels passionate. All these things lead to withdrawal and less, not more, investment of a family’s human and financial resources at a time when the societal need and opportunity is greater than ever before.

Peter, in prior days, I believe, not only worked on civil rights, but has counseled some of the wealthiest families in other parts of the world who do or may live in fear for their safety. Peter asks his audience to consider fundamental questions, as to the proper uses of riches in a world divided.

  1. What is our family’s definition of “wealth with responsibility” – how do our passions and values drive that definition? What “Guiding Principles” would help us be true to ourselves?
  2. What “public persona” do we have today, and what do we wish to present to the outside world in the future – being anonymous and invisible is not an option in this Web-based information accessed environment – and how do we become more intentional in communicating that public persona?
  3. How do we as a family, and as individuals, truly engage in the broader world? What does engagement mean – time, talent and experience, contacts and networks, and financial resources?
  4. What are the bridges between our isolation, our privilege, and others who do not have those resources?
  5. Philanthropy has been for many families a very successful bridge. What role does strategic philanthropy play for us, and how do we develop the competence and governance for a great philanthropy?
  6. A family’s investment philosophy and policy can also be a bridge. How do we integrate our values and principles into a comprehensive investment philosophy and policy?
  7. How expansive a role does social and impact investing play? Where are the lines between social investing and traditional philanthropy?

All positions carry with them a certain price of admission. (Even a Dumpster is owned by someone, and homesteaded on sufferance.) To be an outsider among insiders only allows so much slack. Any teacher must await a teachable moment. If words like "justice," did not make Peter's final draft..... If all questions at the end are posed as if they were "family branding" or "values questions," to be answered by the rich person, to the rich person's own satisfaction, without there being any external standard..... "Truth is a bitch that must to kennel....,' as the Fool exclaimed, exiting stage right, on the tip of his Majesty's boot. In short, if Peter's questions pose a test, who grades the Final?

Download On the Sociology of Wealth 2016 - Karoff - FINAL-1

In Audrey is our Hope for Good Governance in a World gone Mad

I am probably not the only one who is always pissed off about work related issues. As a "lifer" in Wealth Bondage, in any number of demeaning roles, most recently, cabana boy, my hot button issue has always been wealth inequality. It goes back for me to Catholic Social Doctrine, and the MLK era. It is unconscionable, in my view, for “The most trusted advisor” to a dynastic family to remain a wealth-identified Courtier, without wealth himself or herself, but as identified with wealth as was Mammy in Gone with the Wind, unable or afraid to articulate with the client a vision of the commonweal. I take “Stillness at Kycuit” to be about the best contemporary take, by a practitioner, on this debilitating topic. The best of all takes, though, was King Lear. Which, as you may recall, does not end well, for Kings, heirs, or Courtiers. As that tragedy suggests, the only way out of systemic injustice and the madness of concentrated power is good governance.  Audrey, the Once and Future Queen may be the only viable answer, as a practical matter. Once she inherits Trump Tower, all the Casinos, and The Bourse itself, there is no limit to how good things can get for those in her favor. I hope The Happy Tutor will remain in her good graces and that he will put in a word for me. May she who saved Rex, the Rescue Dog, save me. And you, too, if you behave as well as Rex and I do.