by Lucius Blackstone
The last time we visited the happy land of Felize things were going wonderfully. The industrious people of that fair land, through hard work and cooperative effort had made their home the envy of their neighbours.
They had stopped cutting down their trees and instead invited people to come sit in the shade and enjoy the many beautiful vistas to be found in the pristine peaceful forests. For combined with the beautiful white beaches protected by their famous reef, with crystal clear waters lapping gently upon the sand, Felize was indeed a magical land to visit.
In fact, once word got around, people from all over the world were coming to see this beautiful place and the Felizeans prospered. Some opened hotels or tranquil retreats, others restaurants, or fed their families by showing visitors the many sights to be found in this wonderful land.
More and more people came to stay, went home and told their friends abut it, so that each year Felize counted a greater number of guests, many of whom would spend more and more time and gold in this tranquil country.
But fame can be a fickle mistress. While she attracts pleasant visitors who only want to enjoy the serene beauty of a place, she can also sing a siren’s song to the greedy, the sort of people who see dollar signs instead of nature’s bounty, and wish to plunder it for their own ends.
And so it was that one day a cold north wind brought the people from the Land of the Midnight Sun.
The captains of this fleet of hardy folk were experienced in the ways of making gold, and they knew a good thing when they saw it.
“Well send our own Big Boats full of people who will pay to see this magic land. And we’ll make sure they pay us, and only us to experience the magic of Felize! We’ll make a fortune!”
Before long they sent ambassadors who were highly skilled in the art of negotiation, who knew how even the most loyal citizens could be corrupted with gold and the most astute community leaders fooled with flattery.
It didn’t take them long to build a cadre of Felizeans whom they called Cronies to do their bidding. Those susceptible to wealth were bought off, those who fell for flattery were told that they would become famous for building huge Monuments To Gold, or MOGs, as they affectionately called them, to accommodate the Big Boats and their passengers.
“We’ll bring in our Big Boats full of visitors who will be enthralled by the glamour and glory of the MOGs, which will be full of shops to sell them things!” gushed Sven, the main Ambassador, as he lit a fat cigar.
“Oh, that will make our craftspeople happy,” Tito, a Felizean tradesman said innocently.
“Ah, oh, sure… some of them. But mostly our shops will sell trinkets made by our friends in the East that we buy very cheaply and sell dearly. It’s called profit maximisation… don’t worry, you’ll soon get the hang of it. All you need to know is that what’s good for us is now good for you, loyal Cronies.”
The Felizean Cronies looked at the pile of gold before them and scratched their heads. “Well, if you say so…”
“We do,” Sven answered briskly, and went on, “We’ll also have our own restaurants with the highest prices in the land. They’ll make huge profits.”
“Oh good,” the cronies said, “Our farmers, fisher folk and cooks will be happy.”
“Ummm, well look, our ships also bring in our own food, drinks and chefs. They need to be of a certain standard, so everything is the same at all our Monuments of Gold. You understand, don’t you? It’s called standardisation.”
“Standardisation and Maximisation…” the cronies mumbled.
“Now you got it!” And when they saw the concerned look on the Cronies’ faces the Northmen answered, “And don’t worry, just tell your people we’ll give them lots of jobs. There must be a few Felizeans who know how to wash dishes and clean up.””
At this the Cronies perked up. “How many jobs can we tell our people there will be?”
“Just say lots. Lots and lots.”
“But how much is lots?”
The Northmen laughed. “How blue is the sky? Just say there will be lots of jobs. You’ll have jobs, and they’ll pay a lot. The rest is just details... don’t get bogged down in details.”
And with that, Sven had his Northmen pull down a huge, beautiful watercolour painting of the MOG that had been rolled up at the top of the wall. It was very pretty, like a work of art.
He pointed his big fat cigar at it.
Indeed, the drawing showed not just one, but several restaurants and a few saloons for the thirsty Big Boat passengers. There was also a giant floating pier, bigger than the main dock in Felize Town, which the Northmen had already built and affectionately named “The Wedge.”
And on this pretty drawing, in addition to the massive pier, there was also a huge marina for giant yachts.
“But no Felizean owns a boat that big,” one man pointed out.
“Who said anything about Felizeans?” Sven said, and his friends all laughed.
There was also a complete make-believe island, with make believe beaches and a big swimming pool in the middle.
Now even the Cronies were confused. “But we already have real islands, beaches, sand and
palm trees!” they pointed out.
“Yes you do, my simple friends, but they’re not perfect. Our islands, beaches and trees are all designed by experts, down to each perfect, uniform grain of sand.”
“And the trees are located to create just the perfect amount of shade. Too much shade and people won’t get thirsty for our expensive drinks,” Knut smiled, “It’s called ergonomic economic engineering.”
“But that’s not the real Felize that people come to see!” Tito protested.
“Ah ha! We thought about that too, don’t you worry,” and with this Sven pointed his cigar to an area marked “Traditional Village”.
“You want Felize, you got Felize. We’re building a complete miniature village, with real faux Felize food, and cultural highlights like dancing and those religious ceremonies some of your people do, you know, all that drumming and chanting and stuff. Our Big Boat passengers will love it!”
“We’re calling it ‘The Kultural Korner’. “Pretty catchy, huh?”
At this, some of the Felizeans got up and left the room.
“My word, some of your people are pretty touchy!” Sven puffed, “You’ll want to nip that in the bud...”
“Yeah” Big Ken, who had so far been quiet, said, “We’re building new boats right now, and we’re planning to double, that’s right, double the amount of people we bring here in the next couple of years, not just to Felize but to your neighbours too, so your buddies better get with the program...”
“And pronto,” Sven said, proud of his new command of the language.
And with that, the Northmen took out a big bag of gold and passed it around to show they meant business.
So, well fed and with pockets full of coins, the Cronies began selling the idea of the Big Boats’ new Monument of Gold to their fellow Felizeans.
But some Felizeans, especially those who lived in the lovely village of Pleasantsea began asking questions.
The Cronies dismissed them. “It’s the wave of the future,” they said.
“More like a tidal wave that’s going to wash away everything we worked so hard for,” Aunty Sally huffed.
“Building something so big and gaudy on our delicate reef is going to disturb the tranquillity of the beautiful places we’ve been taking our visitors to,” another local said.
“And what about the fish, the marine life and beautiful coral? Coral is very delicate, you know.”
“Our new friends say don’t worry about it. They have a Plan,” the Cronies answered.
“Show us the Plan,” the Felizeans said.
Sven made the Cronies promise not to show anyone the real picture yet, but he did give them a Plan they could show the people.
But the Plan didn’t make any sense. And the parts that could be understood had big mistakes and numbers that did not add up.
“This is gobbledygook! It doesn’t make sense.”
“OK, don’t worry about it. We’ll make another one. Besides, we already promised they could build their MOG.”
The Cronies smiled. “It’s what’s called a Done Deal. Big companies do it to, I mean with, little countries all the time. First you do the deal, and then you tell the people about it. That’s why it’s called a Done Deal!
“No muss, no fuss. It’s very simple and happens all the time to, oops, I mean, all the time with countries like Felize.
“But...” the people started to say.
“Done Deal! Done Deal! Done Deal!” the Cronies all shouted in unison, so loudly that no one else could be heard, until one Crony stood up.
“Meeting adjourned. Thank you for coming. It’s wonderful to see democracy in action. We’ll be back soon with another plan. Don’t you worry, simple folk, it’s all under control...”
And pockets bulging, with big smiles on their faces, they climbed in their new company cars and left, tossing sweets out the windows to the children while spewing exhaust and sand throughout the once peaceful village.
One of the Cronies got on his mobile phone to Sven. “Mission accomplished,” he said with a smile.
“No delays? You know we can’t handle any delays or questions. This project is as fragile as that stupid reef...”
“No delays,” the Crony said, trying to keep any nervousness from his voice, “It’s a Done Deal.”
“Good Work! Let’s get moving before people start asking too many questions.
“And by the way,” Sven said, “As proof of our appreciation, we just decided to reward you with a raise and a new job title.”
“Yes?” The Crony said excitedly.
“You are now known as the Don of the Done Deal. Congratulations!”
(or is it?)