(This series started in the story, “Logical Conclusion“)
by P. Orin Zack
“Did you hear? The ‘Bank-Shot’ blogger’s here tonight!”
Leovar Agrolkin turned to the stranger seated beside him in the union hall, a trucker, judging from the logos on his jacket. “Who?”
“John Frachetti… the guy in those pictures with the company’s parole officer. You know, the one who started all the talk about taking the bankers down a notch. They say he had something to do with Reese’s murder.”
Edward Reese had been the CEO of Fremont-Wayfarer before he was found shot to death in one of the chain’s dingy motel rooms. He was also responsible for turning the FW Diners into faux prison chow halls, complete with bright yellow jumpsuits for the servers. Leo hated yellow.
“Sure. I know him. I was there.”
This was Leo’s first union meeting. The graying waiter had managed to reach fifty without ever taking a job that required it, this one included. But then the company was sentenced to a three-year imprisonment for a massive theft orchestrated by the executives, and Judge Clary wanted a union rep on the reformulated board of directors. Only thing was, it wasn’t a union shop. So they went and formed one, signed everyone up, no questions asked. Which was fine with Leo. His background wasn’t something he was too thrilled letting folks know about. After all, who wanted an accused terrorist in their midst?
There was nothing to it, of course. The guy they were after used an alias that just happened to be close enough to his to trigger Homeland Security’s lame profiling program. Not that Agrolkin was a common name or anything. It’s just that they never bothered to scrape the taint off him after ruining his last trip to Canada. So now, if anyone did a background check on him, they’d turn up the other guy, and think it was Leo.
“No kidding?” the trucker said, clearly impressed. “That’s one of the downsides to running a rig. There’s less chance of meeting anyone important on the job. Still, I do like the freedom.”
“Sure. I’m not what you might call a good follower. Tight organizations give me the willies. Like those astroturfers outside. Good little pet rethugnican goats. Their masters probably think business suits are like some kind of magical charm. Well, as far as I’m concerned, anyone who dresses like a penguin just to play stupid domination games deserves to be left out in the cold.”
Leo glanced back towards the door. “They do seem to be awfully bent out of shape over the prospect of a union rep filling in as CEO for a while, don’t they?”
A painful feedback squeal abruptly filled the crowded room, followed closely by a muttered recrimination. “Sorry about that,” the over-amplified voice said, crowding the mike. “Let’s get started. If you’re a first-timer, I’m Galen Kumar, your union president. Since you’ve made it in here past the rental protesters, you probably already know that Alizondo Klee, our voice on the Fremont-Wayfarer board, has been asked to fill in for the late, and unlamented, Edward Reese, after his forced retirement from breathing.”
Several hoots of support echoed across the room.
“And speaking of Reese, how many of you have seen the phone-cam video of him that started squirting around the Internet this morning?”
A slightly larger group responded this time, including the trucker beside Leo.
“In that case, I’ll let him speak for himself. This clip was captured at a recent Republican fundraiser.” Kumar opened his phone and held it near the mike.
“Me? Stay at one of the FW Inns?” the dead man said, snorting in disgust. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those flea-traps. We only acquired the chain because it’s a favorite of the kind of low-life scum that’s so easy to part from their money.”
Kumar snapped the phone shut. “But there’s more. Someone posted a comment to it. Apparently, Reese had a secret meeting at one of our inns during the trial, a meeting where he was offered a way to have the case dropped. And guess what? That was the same room where he was found. Good thing he didn’t, huh? Anyway, we have a guest with us tonight, a young man with a few words to say about the money that Reese was so hot on parting us from. His name is John Frachetti. John?”
Leo sat up to get a better view. Even at this distance, facial cues were important to knowing what a person was really all about.
The blogger thanked Kumar, and then looked happily out across the crowd. “I know you have some important business to attend to after I’m done, so I’ll get right to the point. You heard what Ed Reese said at that party. He wants to part us from our money, because that’s how he got rich. But that’s not what the bankers want. What they want is for you to charge your stay, to roll up a nice fat wad of debt, because that’s how they get rich. They do it by creating money out of thin air. You may think you’re just postponing the pain of shelling out some hard-earned cash when you stripe that plastic, but what you’re really doing is feeding a monster that has usurped the constitutionally authorized power to create money from our government. The kind of money our government was supposed to create, the kind it did create originally, represents the equivalent value of a block of labor. And the way it ought to put it into play is by paying people to do things that serve the common good. Like building roads and schools. But instead, it borrows from the bankers – at interest -- and the bankers create it by jacking their tally sheets. Their money doesn’t represent anyone’s labor, it doesn’t represent squat. But you’re still expected to pay their interest in monetized sweat.”
The trucker snorted. “Damn,” he said quietly. “You mean to tell me my mortgage loan isn’t what I think it is?”
“It’s not what they want you to think it is,” Leo corrected, just above a whisper. “Words are weapons, too.”
Frachetti’s eyes danced as he followed the wave of side discussions sweeping the hall. “Not a pretty thought, is it? The question is what can we do about it. Well, I think there’s a lot we can do. I never spent much time in restaurants before this union turned the FW Diners into what the public square used to be all about. There are parks in some cities with a history of hosting fiery speakers, noisy rallies and even the occasional demonstration. Lately, what passes for a government in this country has started turning those parks into corrals, places where they can pen off the noisy heartbeat of democracy and keep it from disrupting their precious bottom line. And more importantly, keep it from showing its face on the corporate news. Well, I suggest it’s high time we showed them a different kind of line. They can try controlling what people do and say in public, but by their own rules, they can’t do it on private property. They can’t tell Fremont-Wayfarer to muzzle their staff and customers. If you can convince Alizondo Klee to give up being a union rep and take over as the Chief Executive Officer of this company, then you’ll have the power to tell them to shut up.”
Leo let out a whoop of encouragement. Several others echoed the sentiment.
“Speaking truth to power is never easy. I know. The FBI thinks I’m a terrorist, that I instigated Reese’s murder. They thought that by having the company’s board speak with me, they could cow me into submission. After all, walking into a place like that is supposed to be all about deference to authority. But guess what? That’s not what I found. And the reason it’s not is that this union has a voice there. That’s all it took to change the balance. One person. And every single one of you has just as much power to change the balance as Alizondo Klee did. That’s why it’s so important for you to keep talking truth to everyone you meet, because some of those people are in situations like his, and if they follow your lead, they’ll be able to shift the balance in some other company. Questions?”
Dozens of hands shot skyward, including the trucker’s. Frachetti chose him first.
“Yeah,” he said, getting to his feet. “They call me ‘French’. They keep talking about how the Federal Reserve manages the economy by monkeying with the Prime. My mortgage follows it. But can they really control inflation like that?”
Frachetti laughed. “Hey, I’m no expert. I pieced together what’s been going on from books like ‘Web of Debt’. There’s an oddball video about the money made from the destruction of the World Trade Center called ‘Who Killed John O’Neill’. Once you’ve had your eyes opened to this sort of thing, you realize just how much power money really has. But to answer your question, they do more than just control it. They cause it. Just remember this: the Federal Reserve isn’t part of the government, and there’s no reserve. It’s a private bank owned by other private banks.”
French sat down while the next questioner started talking. “Damn,” he said to Leo. “I’m in the wrong line of work. Maybe I should hang up my rig and take up waitering.”
“The pay isn’t very good.”
“So why do you do it?”
“I didn’t used to,” Leo said, frowning. “But when your customers start coming in to talk with you, and maybe have a bite to eat, instead of just to wolf down some fuel without even tasting it, the tips start to seem like they’re more for who you are than what you do. Some of the regulars are now my friends. One of them even landed me a paying gig.” He broke out in a broad grin.
“What’s so funny?”
“I just realized something. I got a chance to toot my horn by tooting my horn.”
By P. Orin Zack