The Professor scanned the classroom. We didn't know his academic credentials or even his name, but he taught the adult-education class in Detroit, so we all called him The Professor.
"And The Great Economic Meltdown beginning in 2008? Who can describe its causes?" he asked, peering pleasantly through thick, round spectacles. Under different circumstances he might have even been liked.
"Freedom of the press," said an ambitious girl. "Uncontrolled, sensationalist media panicked the bourgeois investors." The Professor nodded approvingly, and off in a corner his note-taker made a positive mark next to the student's name.
"Yes, Internet," he shivered. "All chaos and pornography. No control in those days. In late 2008, a radical Internet magazine called Lew Rockwell-dot-com published a joke. It wrote that the American Secretariat of Finance was cutting interest rates to zero, so why not cut them more than zero — then government would pay people to borrow. But the American government fell for the joke."
"Anyone want to discuss Internet? Maybe, defend uncontrolled speech?" he asked. We weren't that foolish. The line of guards watched us carefully.
"Good. Then we continue," said the Professor. "In 2009 America's Minister of Money, a man named Mr. Paul Sen, ran out of ideas. He borrowed until lenders called it quits. He printed billions of paper dollars and issued more and more bonds that eventually nobody wanted. His no-good money was too rough for toilet paper — that is my joke. Then he misunderstood and cut interest rates below zero. Why?"
"Stupidity," said a red-haired boy determined not to repeat his beating of last spring.
"Correct!" said The Professor. "He had only two strategies. Either borrow and spend or spend and borrow — that's another small joke of mine but it will not be on the exam. The American Green-Buck Dollar was so inflated that nobody wanted it. Then Mr Sen actually paid them to borrow more and more. Not workers, he just paid rich people, government cronies."
"Sen said paying people to borrow was cheaper than throwing money out of helicopter owned by Chief Mandarin of the Federal Preserves System, named Dr. Beani Burbanki. And, amazing thing, he was not joking," the teacher added.
"So," asked a young woman, "the American bourgeoisie and their government lived far beyond their means for decades, then they foolishly believed they could borrow and spend their way out of it instead of saving and creating sound money?" She was virtually guaranteed two rations that night.
The teacher nodded vigorously. "America not like China. America had no savings and rotten money. Nonsensically, government kept lowering interest rates which made saving and lending more and more unattractive. They were cuckoo."
"But, without their stupidity," she continued, "we would not have had the economic meltdown that led to America's liberation by Our Chinese Family, who owned most of the debt. We would not have been rescued from ourselves."
The Professor stared at her, silently wondering if she was sarcastic or sincere. The room inhaled but eventually he broke into a broad smile. "Comrade, come see me after class," he asked her.
"Yes, Hegel's dialectic works in mysterious ways," the teacher continued. "American-led crash toppled China's capitalist dictators, allowing the National-Communists to regain control of China, then to liberate America using own capitalist weapons."
"All this will be on Friday's quiz," he concluded. "Scores of 90% or better get you two bowls of rice, both Saturday and Sunday nights. Guards will see you back to your workstations. Please be productive."
Reprinted from The DC Examiner with permission.
December 4, 2008