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A Parable For Our Times

The setting is an East End Pub

Knave: Hello Sir, may I introduce myself? I am the honorable Knave of Chernobyl.

Hypocrite: I didn't know knaves could be honorable.

Knave: In Chernobyl a knave is a man of the hour, steeped in history and ready for all eternity. We have pedigrees in our birthrights and we have influence. And we knaves know how people behave.

Hypocrite: Didn't Chernobyl have a nuclear explosion?

Knave: A small leak; the radioactivity has returned to the same level as you have in Denver Colorado: it has become a new Garden of Eden where animals live in peace.

Hypocrite: Is that so?

Knave: Believe me; you can trust me. Never have I picked a man's pocket. Here, look at this picture. See the animals? They do not glow.

Hypocrite: Is your language different? I mean do your words mean what they seem to mean?

Knave: Have I ever misled you?

Hypocrite: Well But we just met.

Knave: I have travelled the world over and never have I harmed a flea. Believe me. Are you questioning my honor sir?

Hypocrite: Not at all. What do you want of me?

Knave: You are said to have made a lot in shady deals. I am setting up a bogus company that will make us both a ton of money. I just don't have any ready cash. I would cut you in for half in return for a small investment.

Hypocrite: Now you are talking; tell me more.

Knave: Here is how it works: we offer suckers a real deal.

Hypocrite: What kind of real deal?

Knave: Whatever the sucker wants.

Hypocrite: How do we know that?

Knave: We don't -- at first. We ask them what they might be interested in. It can be anything at all, but suckers are eager to believe, they are thieves at heart. We must turn down their first request as impossible -- to whet their appetite and to build their confidence in us. We hesitate on their second request, as it will be exceedingly difficult, and suggest our novel scheme instead.

Hypocrite: Yes, I see. What then? Tell me more.

Knave: We explain how ten forwarded letters lead to ten-fold rewards for each. We can even mention the real inventor of our scheme -- Ponzi -- and how we go him one better, by lightning fast email on the Internet! The real thieves are hipocrites, they will have an "AHA" and open their wallets!

Hypocrite: What if they still do not buy in?

Knave: Simple. Just puff up and say: "Do you doubt my word? My honor? I am a man of action." Then we extol the riches, a life of ease. I have email replies of this sort already automated.

Hypocrite: That should get them. People do like strong personae -- like "I am a war president."

Knave: Suckers are born every minute.

Hypocrite: Yes I know. What do you want of me?

Knave: You already asked that. I need seed money to finance the first round of my Ponzi scheme; each dollar sent returns ten; each recipient becomes part of our scheme by matching the amount, and thinks only of his reward, ten times over. He stays for the second round which returns one hundred dollars for every dollar invested, and the third round returns one thousand. We promise the suckers that they cash in after the fourth round, 10,000 times their own investment. That is when we grab the money and run. You sir will get half. With the Internet and emails, round three could be done by Friday. Imagine, by Monday, we buy a South Sea Island complete with servants to do our every bidding. Or we can opt for the good life in Rio. Tomorrow night?

Hypocrite: Tomorrow night, yes, yes I will be here.

[Hypocrite hurries home, counts his money, liquidates his holdings barely in time to get to the the pub.]

Hypocrite: I have $2,124,421 to invest. Here is my cashier's check.

Knave: That is a lot of money. I don't know if I can use that much.

Hypocrite: Sure you can. I went to a lot of trouble; I moved as fast as I could. Use it all! Automate; get on the Internet; spam the world! I can't wait!

Knave: Nor can I, but we must be prudent and patient. We must choose the right moment to realize heaven on earth. Friday is the very soonest we can plan.

Hypocrite: Luxury Island here we come.

Knave: This is fantastic. After your cashiers check is deposited, we will become billionaires in just five short days. We may not even need all the 2 mil. Here is a phone number I will activate Friday; call me: 444-543-2356, let me know what bank to deposit your share in on Monday.

Hypocrite: I'll call you Friday.

[Friday seemed like forever, but it came around as the world turned. Hypocrite dials 444-543-2356 with bated breath.]

Postal Inspector:
I've been waiting for your call. I just got a tip from the Knave of Chernobyl; he said you would be calling and he asked me to tell you he is in Bora Bora -- he also told me all about your Ponzi scheme, which I just confirmed has completed its fourth round. My lieutenant will be knocking on your door shortly with a summons and warrant.


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