I still got his name. And his kids. And his love.
So, thanks, Granny Bee, and whoever’s above!
The applause was generous and she sat her big self laughing.
“Did she write that sweet verse?” Anne asked sardonically. Richard shrugged. “Don’t lie to me, I saw some of your first drafts.”
“I did ask them to write something but they were so busy. We were lucky to have them fly in and out for the day. It was easy. I spent years on Madison Avenue writing commercial jingles.”
Riding the crest of the guardedly positive wave, she called out, “Article three: Occupations! Let’s see the hands,” and slowly she did. “Thank you!
“Article Four: Compensation. Salaries. The accumulation of wealth. Capital.” She paused for effect. “There will be none. None.
“I’ m sure you are all curious as to how we are going to pay for all those delicious meals, the live entertainment, the beautiful clothes, hand-made shoes or the rent on the suites?” She saw the smug asides and chuckles from some of the older delegates. But the speed with which their expressions changed was mercurial.
“We’ll pay nothing. That’s right, not one cent. In the new American Society there will be a free exchange of goods and services, not unlike bartering, thereby negating the need for coinage to be minted or paper money printed. The shiny metal called gold will be collected and returned to vaults in Fort Knox which are already underground. Or used to make jewelry and things.”
What do you mean no money?
Some of us have savings in banks, investments!
Are you crazy? No one can live without money.
What will my stocks be worth, then?
` What are we going to do without money?!
My father left me a fortune which I have wisely invested for my children!
Richard waited for quiet. “Some of you have worked hard to provide for yourselves and your families. And some of you made fortunes sitting at desks playing the stock market, or spending the money your parents made, while others have slaved to put food on the table. Here, there is no wealth, no poverty. We each work for each other in the commune. And, thanks to those talented people in uniform behind you, the Amwell commune was completed in just five months.”
Richard waited for the applause for the troops to finish. “What does money represent? Wealth, happiness, power, freedom? But we know all of those can be taken away in a flash. Many of us live in a constant state of stress and anxiety, and fear. Fear of not having enough money, or keeping it, fear of outside forces diminishing its value—war, depression, bank failures, companies down-sizing or your job going overseas, or illness. There is scientific evidence that up to 90% of illness is caused by stress, anxiety, fear. Those are what we hope to reduce and even eliminate. What would you give to live without poverty, without fear of poverty, without fear of any kind?”
Richard and Anne exchanged hopeful nods during the disturbing hubbub.
Er—say, what’s the difference between communes and communities?
“Size mostly, as between a small village and a large town. In Toronto there is an underground mall. It’s a virtual city with every amenity, even hotels. It’s what our communities will emulate.”
Sir, or Madam, er, Miss, uh, Amwell, said the ex-senator in the white suit. Richard had earlier guessed he was the designated leader of the status quo. If I may be so bold, are y’all communists? You know, communes and all.
Richard inhaled slowly to let his fury settle. “Senator, neither Anne nor I are, or have ever been, card-carrying members, even sympathizers of the communist party, the socialist party, the Green Party or the Pink Party!” He had to shout the last over the din of laughter from the stands.
Anne glanced down and smiled at a lovely woman whose face was hidden under a large brimmed hat and behind sunglasses. She stood and waited for silence.
The dress I am wearing cost two thousand dollars. I paid seven hundred for my shoes. Is your dress designer going to replicate this dress and these shoes . . . for nothing? And for that all I have to do is clean toilets?
A burst of laughter broke the palpable tension. Anne, controlling her own amusement, said, “Madam, did you as a child go to a summer camp?” The woman scowled—what has that got to do with anything?—but grudgingly nodded. “Would you wear such a dress there? And did you not have chores at camp, make your bed, and so forth? Didn’t you have more fun there then you did at home?”
The woman hemmed and huffed, but finally shrugged—maybe so.
“Living in a commune is a lot like summer camp. You’ll pitch in, do a little work and—why, you can even help design your own clothes—and others’ as well.”
Well, if it’ll keep me out of the toilets!