Years ago, I planted a small plum tree. After that I did nothing, just watched it grow and let nature take its course. Over time, the free energy of the sun, through photosynthesis, caused the plum tree to grow to maturity and produce lovely and delicious purple plums. All I had to do was pick them, to gather them. Free energy from the sun, plus the plum tree, plus free rain from the sky joined with the nutrients of the earth, all on their own, with no assistance from me, transforming energy into matter in an open system and literally produced fruit, plums, a viable, useful, edible, organic commodity of value.

So, after I picked the plums, I decided I would take them down to the local farmers’ market and trade them for some other food, or good or service that I desired. After all, now I had enough plums for my own use and consumption. The extra plums that I picked were of marginal value, of marginal utility to me. Therefore, I sought to trade them for something else I wanted, to barter them.

One vendor offered me a variety of vegetables for my basket of plums. OK, not a bad offer. But then a baker, who made yummy breads and pies, offered me two loaves of his multi-grain bread and two of his lovely pies in exchange for my basket of plums. I accepted the baker’s offer. Our voluntary, free, honest market exchange was complete, a successful barter had taken place.

Word circulated in portions of the market about the superb quality of my organic plums; delicious was the word. I was asked if I would bring more plums the next week to barter, trade or sell. I agreed.

The next week I picked three baskets of plums for the market. Ah, these plums were also ripe and juicy. Yum. I decided that rather than haul the cumbersome three baskets of plums to the market, that I would print up and issue three separate paper plum receipts, each good for one basket of plums. After all, everyone at the market knew me, and that I was “good” for the plums, that my word was “good as gold”, and so my plum receipts were deemed “good”. I readily exchanged my three plum receipts, representing three baskets of my plums, for a couple of pizzas at one vendor, some more bread and baked goods at another vendor, and for some vegetables at a third vendor. Later that week, the three vendors came to my place and collected their basket of plums. All were delighted.

Soon word got around all the market about my great plums and my plum receipts. After several more weeks of this activity, my plum receipts began trading among the various vendors, and vendors I had not originally traded my plums to showed up to collect them. My plum “currency” had become a circulated item in the market, and I found myself not only in the plum business, but also in the plum currency/receipt business. I thought myself to be “plum smart”.

I picked more and more plums and put them in refrigeration to prolong their life and my fledging plum and plum receipt/currency business. Pretty soon, I had a virtual walk in cooler full of plums with matching plum receipts trading freely out there in the local marketplace. Everyone accepted my plum receipts/currency. For everyone knew me and knew of the high quality of my plums, there on demand for all to see. Good on me!

Then, I discovered a trick whereby I could increase my profit. It was not really dishonest, was it? Caveat emptor? Let the buyer beware? Anyway, I realized that by removing a handful of plums from each of 5 plum baskets I could create yet another basket of my yummy plums, a 6th basket. And, yes, issue yet another plum receipt. Everyone still got their plums; there were still plum receipts to match every plum baskets, but less plums in each basket. No one noticed. A bit later, I would even hide some apples and pears in my basket of plums where they could not be seen when I was short plums or needed some more income. No one seemed to notice or care. They just wrote it off as a mistake, a simple error or accepted the substitute fruit. In any case, it was way too much bother for them to mess with or correct the seemingly innocent mistake on my part. Besides, how could they prove it once they had taken delivery of a plum basket? I was home Scott free.

One week there were more requests for plum baskets than there were plums. Hmm. What to do? …I had noticed that not everyone came and collected their plum baskets every week. Some folks forgot to do so. Some people lost them plum receipts. Some of my plum receipts burned up in a fire. One old codger croaked and my plum receipt ended up out of state in the hand of a clueless relative, out of sight, out of mind. So, I could deliver the plum baskets (intended for the lost and destroyed plum receipts) to other buyers and also issue more plum receipts for the plums in storage, replacing the out-of-circulation plum receipts.

You can imagine how my profits soared. This plum receipt business was becoming more profitable to me than I would have ever imagined. Pretty soon, I could just amble on down to the farmers’ market and take whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. After all, no one had better credit than me, and everyone knew I would pay them eventually with one of my invaluable plum receipts. What a sweet deal. Plus, I had wisely put an expiration date on each of the plum receipts I had issued, so if some poor sap had not collected his plums from me in time before expiration, well, that was just his tough luck. His plum receipt had expired, and I could issue yet another of my plum receipt for that same basket of plums. Sweet!

Next, I began issuing futures contracts for a basket of my plums with a fixed expiration date, some 60 days into the future. Seemingly, an infinite number of these futures contracts for delivery of a basket of plums were made. I, of course, took a nice cut for every contract issued. After all, I was the “house”. And after a while, not many people came to collect the basket of plums that each futures contract represented; they were happy to accept my paper plum receipt as payment instead of the real plums. These folks were clueless as to how many baskets of plums I had in the cooler, or even if there were actually any plums there or not. They honestly did not care. Why? Because my plum receipts and futures contracts for plums had taken on a life of their own and now were the dominant currency of the farmers’ market. Money was being made and lost hand over fist betting on futures contracts of my paper plum receipts. Who was I to deny such wisdom of the market?

I was becoming rich and famous beyond my wildest dreams with my glorious plum receipts and futures contracts on baskets of plums. My thinking evolved into “to hell with the plums themselves”. They did not even matter any more. Perception had become reality, and my plum receipts and futures contracts on my plums were gauged and believed to be as “good as gold”. I then launched options on my plum futures contracts, with an expiration date, of course, where delivery was made with my paper plum receipts. Do you have any idea how rich I was becoming taking a cut out of all these hundreds of options? Money poured in like manna falling from heaven. I was clearly doing “God’s work”.

Everyone knew my name. Everyone respected me. My photo was on the front page of the local paper, then the cover of a national magazine. I was chosen to be a member, and actually was appointed chairman, of the Plum Reserve Board, which had become the currency of the realm for the entire province, the “Plum Right Reserve Currency”. And loans? Did we ever make loans, always taking good collateral for our multiplied printed plum receipt paper. Plus, it was so easy to convince the sheeple to deposit their hard-earned earnings in my banks (paying them paltry interest), and then take their funds and invest them overseas in factories (like in Bangladesh), which financed the sheeple’s own unemployment. I closed the factories at home. Too many benefits for the laborers. Hey, if the sheeple are so stupid to finance their own unemployment, then that is what they deserve. Right? Survival of the fittest, plus the market is always right. Right? Right!

Next, I decided to expand and diversify my fast growing empire. I bought up a chunk of the farmers’ market vendors, cut myself a sweet deal in buying up real estate in the area, as well as local farms and ranches in distress situations like non-payable debt or death. I just printed up the plum receipts I needed to buy what I wanted. Everyone accepted them, my plum good money, honey, and went merrily on their way. Soon I was establishing factories overseas with $1 a day laborers there happy to have the work. I was benefitting my fellow man. No one felt better about themselves than me, providing as I did needed work for thousands of pitiful peasants in Bangladesh. And when I flew there on my private jet, they greeted me with a red carpet, a band, and lavished on me wine, women and song.

I also had some back up plums that could be shipped in from Latin America if there was an actual call for delivery in excess of my real plums. No one would know the difference. So what if there was some pesticide on the imported plums? The business of business is business! Sometimes, I just borrowed plums from other orchards with a reciprocal swap agreement should they find they needed to stand and deliver real plums. We all only had a fraction of the plums needed for actual delivery. But that was all it took. I was now in the fractional reserve plum business, too.

If someone gave me too much flack or trouble about the quality or number of my plums, or questioned if I had enough plums, or inquired about my plum receipts, or futures contracts for plums, or options (derivatives) on my plums, well a visit to him, his wife, his children, his employer, by law enforcement, the tax auditor, or one of my “encouragers” to explain the reasonableness of my position, and how what I was doing was good for everyone concerned, well, that was usually enough, all it took to get the disgruntled fellow to see the light and things my way. Word quickly got around not to rock the boat that everyone was in. What was good for me was good for everyone else. This was the way it was. Sure, sometimes it took a flat tire on his vehicle or a brick through his window at night to convince some malcontent terrorist wannabe to back off. But back off he did!

I even developed a separate secret organization of my own “encouragers” to enforce law and order for the community, and later for the nation and for the world. The judges and politicians I had backed with generous campaign contributions, plus the dirty laundry my research boys had dug up on them, made sure we were all in one accord on the law, and on the enforcement of the law. I even became the primary financier of the local government when it had projects that went over budget and/or tax revenues did not match expenses. This, too, expanded to the national level. I became a “king maker”, the puppet presidential maker. Since the government was, of course, beholding to me, pretty much whatever I wanted legislated was passed.

Ah, it is a good world. I knew I was doing “God’s work”. I was entrenched and established. Hell, I was the Establishment. I even received the Nachos Peace Prize for the parks I built for the “Community of Mankind” all over the globe, many named after me, of course, just like the schools. Everyone everywhere hung on my every word. It was like I was God, and who knows, maybe I was. After all, since I was doing “God’s work”, that made me a god. Right?

And yeah, from time to time there were other bright boys who wanted to horn in on my action and issue their own wheat receipts or timber receipts, etc. But as God would have it, God would reach down from heaven and burn up their wheat warehouses, striking them with lightning from above. Ditto the lumber yards. Hmm. And how did I get the nickname, “Mr. Lightning”? It must have been because I was so bright. Right!

Of course, a little competition is a good thing, so I readily financed the reconstruction of the wheat warehouses (after I had bought the wheat farms now in bankruptcy) and became a major silent equity partner in the lumber yards (after purchasing a sizable equity interest in the forests), and then encouraged these boys to issue their own wheat receipts and lumber receipts to compete with my plum receipts. The earth was truly the lords! And all the sheep, oops, sheeple, were happy as frolicking lambs to go about their affairs, toiling their lives away, distracted by endless entertainment and consumption, using our debt-backed wonderful money/currency we had created with plums, wheat and lumber, etc. What a financial empire had sprung forth from such humble beginnings. I found myself comprising the majority of the nation’s GDP. I also found it so satisfying to be doing “God’s work”.

Life is good. I cast my bread upon the waters and it was returned to me many fold, just like the Good Book promised would be the case. I was one of His chosen people, one of His elect. The sheeple think I walk on water, and it is good for them to believe that to be so. After all, where would the sheeple be without me, their shepherd? I know what is best for them. And I now have hundreds of think tanks to design and work out the sheeple’s future for them, little lambs that they are. And I am the Good Shepherd who tends his flock (and fleeces it from time to time). But no one questions what I do or say, at least not for long. The cost for the sheeple to do so is far too high, too time consuming, and way too expensive. Besides, what’s the use? What chance do a few misguided sheeple have against me, their Good Shepherd? None. Occupy until I come? Fat chance of that. They are lucky I even allow them to bleat. They have no clue how I know their every little dirty secret, and how the technology I now control dictates their very lives, and is light years ahead of their awareness. I even have my clone in waiting. I will never die.

My sports team, “Plum Tough”, is the talk of the world. My charities, “Plum Good”, are mandatory depositories of donation by the sheeple. My approved textbooks, “Plum Right” and “Plum Stupid” are the exclusive standard fare in schools everywhere. My porn channels, “Plum Pudding” and “Plum Ripe”, rake in billions a year, as do my networks and print media, “Plum Line”. I have a virtual monopoly, as does my global server “Plum Space”. I am partners of one sort of another with everyone of importance everywhere. We “Masters of the Universe”, through multiple interlocking directorates, own and/or control everything worth owning and controlling on this planet. We even provide literally and figuratively “opiate for the masses”. And my government, through my “Plum Watch” system, monitors all financial transactions and conversations all over the planet, plus visually records everything worldwide with our street cameras, satellites and drones.

I have indeed created a “wonderful world”. It is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I buy anything, everything and everyone I want, any time I want, anywhere I want. Everything and everyone has a price.

Whatever happened to that old plum tree that started me down this path to “The 9th Gate” of wealth and power? Ah, it withered up and died several years ago of old age; it is now long gone and forgotten…not that it matters. …