Here & Now with S Sorrensen

Northern Rivers. Now:

Once upon a time, in a land not far away, there lived an emperor whose given name was State Government but preferred the title Emperor.

He had grown fat on the industry of his people and instead of serving the people as per the agreement that goes with emperocracy (ie he gets treated really well by the people and in return he protects them) he became greedy and self-absorbed. He loved overseas holidays and expensive clothes.

One day a bunch of swindlers, the Clothes Swindling Group (CSG), came to the Emperor's country. They let it be known that they were master weavers and could spin the most beautiful clothes from fine fabric. Not only were the materials and style especially fine and profitable, but the weavers reckoned the clothes these spin doctors spun were magic. The clothes were invisible to anyone unfit for his or her office or who was hopelessly stupid - so said their press release.

These weavers lobbied the Emperor over lunch and showed him a plan that featured puffed sleeves and investment maximisation schemes. The Emperor thought, "I'd look good in that."

So the Emperor bade the swindlers make him a set of these magic clothes so that he would shine brighter than all other emperors. (And he could tell if people were unfit for office or hopelessly stupid.) He gave the swindlers bags of gold from the public coffers to purchase the finest fabric, prime agricultural land and gold trim. He chucked the people out from their homes and gave the homes to the swindlers, rent free.

The people protested but the Emperor promised them they would see the most magnificent clothes ever made. The swindlers, laughing all the while, deposited the public money offshore where their masters laughed heartily too.

Finally, the Emperor's new clothes were ready. He gathered his yes-men together and they proceeded to the swindlers' factory. There, the Emperor saw only empty looms.

"Oh dear," thought the Emperor. "I can't see any clothes. Am I unfit for my office? Am I a fool?"

His yes-men, who were ministers in his court, also saw nothing but they feared they were maybe unfit for office (which was likely). No-one spoke.

Then the swindlers, bowing low and saying nice things about his Enlightened Emperorality, pointed to the empty looms and said, "How splendid is the golden trim!"

With exaggerated gestures the swindlers pulled the Emperor's new clothes from the looms and brought them to him draped across their arms. They ran their fingers through the air, saying, "Feel how smooth our operation is." The ministers nodded to each other and said, "Oh yes. This is truly the finest clothing we have ever seen."

"Um," said the Emperor. And then lifting a corner to his cheek to feel its smoothness, said, "It has my highest approval."

And he gave the swindlers more money from the people's taxes.

The swindlers dressed the Emperor and said, "How grand you look, Your Emperorness." But they were thinking, "Come in sucker," and did snicker amongst themselves.

The Emperor paraded his new clothes down the main drag of his town. The townspeople looked at the Emperor and saw no clothes, only naked exploitation.

But to avoid being thought of as hopelessly stupid, some said things like, "CSG is good for us," and "It's a safe industry."

The swindlers were well pleased.

But then a child cried out, "He's not wearing any clothes!"

The people looked at each other.

And knowing the child to be quite bright (she could work the DVD player) and that she held no office to be unfit for, they realised that they'd been conned big time.

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