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Inspired by the recently concluded Get out of Debt Contest, I submit the following:

A Parable for our Times:

In the beginning the Economy was formless and void. The Spirit of Trade moved upon the earth and said "Let there be barter," and there was barter. And Man saw that it was good.

As Man traveled about, he saw that he could not always find someone to trade with, and that was not good. So the Spirit of Trade said "Let there be Cash," and Money appeared in many forms upon the face of the Economy. And Man saw that it was good, since he would always be able to purchase the goods he needed without depending on others needing his barter goods.

As the Economy grew and spread across the land, Man saw that he couldn't always carry enough Money to carry out the transactions he required, and Commerce was stifled, and that was not good. The Spirit of Trade saw this and said "Let there be Credit," and Lo, Letters of Credit appeared across the face of the earth, and Man saw that this was good, and created a new breed of men to minister to Credit, Accountants.

Over time, the Economy became a swift-moving beast, and the Letters of Credit could no longer keep up with the pace of Business. The Accountants appealed to the Spirit of Trade for succor in their hour of need. The Spirit of Trade saw that Man had progressed far from the days of darkness, and so bequeathed to Man many Gifts. The Accountants were unable to use all of these gifts themselves, and so joined with their Merchant and Banker brethren, and distributed the Gifts to them, so that Man might benefit.

One of these Gifts was the Credit Card. It took Man a while to understand the usefulness of this Gift, and so the Accountants, Merchants, and Bankers drew up a list of Laws, to encourage the use of this Gift, and so please the Spirit of Trade.

The Greater Laws:
1. Spending is good, and pleasing to the Spirit of Trade
2. Spending shall be equal to Cash plus available Credit.
3. Thou shalt not wait to buy what thou wouldst, but shall say "Charge it!"
4. Thou shalt keep up with thy neighbor's spending in all things.
5. Thou shalt not refuse the purchase requests of thine offspring.

The Lesser Laws:
1. New is better than old, bigger is better than smaller, new is better than old, unless it is antique.
2. Always strive to be the first on your block to own the latest gadget or toy.
3. Clothes shall not be worn for more than the passing of 12 full moons.
4. Thou art what thou driveth. Lease if thou cannot buy.
5. Be not afraid to borrow, lest thy neighbor overtaketh thee in spending.

And so, after many years, the Shadow of Debt moved across the land, visiting house after house. And the People were afraid. Some put their "X" on Home Equity Loan paperwork in hopes that Credit Card Debt would pass them by.

But others found help in the guise of The Motley Fool. "Live below your means," the Fool said.

The People asked, "How can we do that?"

The Motley Fool created a Marketplace of ideas, where the People could gather and discuss ways in which to escape the Burden of Debt. The Fool told tales of People who had cut up their Credit Cards, paid off Debt, started to Save and Invest. These stories inspired the People to think of things they could do themselves, and so emulate these Heroes of Thrift. The People told one another their ideas, and began to grow strong in the belief that Debt could be controlled.

And Lo! Changes came over the lands. Cars were not traded in every two or three years and garages became less cluttered with the latest gadgets and toys. People ate home-cooked meals with their families and turned in bottles and cans for their deposits. Coupons were cut and luxuries disdained. Wives cut the hair of their husbands and children. Husbands brought their lunch to work. Spending was tracked and budgets prepared.

Not all were happy with the changes the Fool had wrought. The Accountants, Merchants and Bankers were saddened by the decrease in spending, and sought ways to turn the People back to the Old Ways, but that is a Tale for another Day.

Fool On
Kaigun Chusa
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