Wednesday, December 8, 2010
A titan of industry comments on current events
Transcript of the latest interview conducted by Brad Smilo of Paco World News Daily (PWND) with J. Packington Paco III
Smilo: Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America! This is Brad Smilo broadcasting from the penthouse suite high atop Paco Tower. I’m standing in…say, what room is this, Spurgeon?
Spurgeon: Mr. Paco refers to this as his “counting room”, sir. It is the sanctum sanctorum of Paco Enteprises, where the fruits of Mr. Paco’s labors, on a net basis, can be readily totted up.
Smilo: Interesting wallpaper. Wait a minute…Are these real hundred-dollar bills?
Spurgeon: Indeed, sir. Mr. Paco has always felt that the color green has a soothing influence on the human mind, and has frequently alluded to its similarity to the effect of oil on troubled waters.
Smilo: With the oil spill disaster in the Gulf this past year, I’m not sure that metaphor is still valid!
Spurgeon: Mr. Paco had the foresight to short the common stock of British Petroleum some weeks before the disaster, sir, so, if I may be permitted to venture an opinion, I can, without any reservation whatsoever, say that the metaphor has, if anything, acquired an even greater measure of validity.
Smilo: Well, you’ve got me there, Spurgeon! [Loudly sniffs the air] Hey, I smell smoke!
Spurgeon: If you will bear to the right at the end of the series of gold columns…
Smilo: Not real gold, surely?
Spurgeon: Only 18 karat, sir. Mr. Paco’s aversion to needless ostentation is legendary.
Smilo: Er…yes, yes, of course.
Spurgeon: As I was saying, Mr. Smilo, if you will just turn to your right after the last column, you will find Mr. Paco engaged in some end-of-the-year accounting work. The source of the smoke will become evident.
Smilo: Thank you, Spurgeon.
Spurgeon: Not at all, sir.
Smilo: That was Spurgeon, folks, J. Packington Paco’s gentleman’s personal gentleman. And now, as I round the last column, here’s the subject of our interview in the flesh! [Aside: And so much of it!] How are you J.P.?
J.P: Well, well, well! Good to see you again, Brad! Please, join me here by the fire and we’ll have a nice chat.
Smilo: That’s a fantastic fireplace, J.P.! It looks like the one in the living room at Xanadu in Citizen Kane.
J.P: Some thirty square feet larger, I would imagine, Brad.
Smilo: That’s a large chunk of wood in there. A little early for the Yule log, isn’t it?
J.P.: Mwaha! Gad, sir, you are a character! No, it’s the trunk of a Brazilian rosewood, and there’s no holiday significance to it at all.
Smilo: Isn’t that an endangered species?
J.P.: Is it? Tut-tut. Well, no sense in extinguishing the blaze now. Besides, Brazilian rosewood burns with very intense heat – a highly useful quality when one is tidying up at the end of one’s fiscal year.
Smilo: What is that you’re feeding into the fire?
J.P.: Just some old accounting ledgers and sales invoices, along with a few photographs.
Smilo: Oh, here, you dropped one of the pictures. S-a-y, isn’t that a photo of Tim Geithner with…
J.P: Er, with one of his nieces. Here, let me relieve you of that.
Smilo: Amazing! She looks just like Kim Kardashian.
J.P.: Yes, the, um, resemblance is striking.
Smilo: Gosh, Mr. Geithner appears to be exceptionally fond of his niece. Hmmm. He seems to be…
J.P: Brushing the crumbs from some Girl Scout cookies off her lap, exactly.
Smilo: You must have a lot of influence for you to be able to get that close to the Secretary of the Treasury.
J.P.: M’yes. Or vice versa, as the case may be.
Smilo: J.P., I’m sure my radio listeners would like to know your thoughts on the recent midterm elections.
J.P. [sighing deeply]: I’ll tell you honestly, Brad, it was not with unmixed emotions that I saw this wave of probity come flooding through the halls of Congress, washing away a multitude of Democrats like so many shabby mobile homes. I mean, with all those Democrats in office, for the aggressive financier such as myself it was always a buyer’s market. But, taking one thing with another, I believe the return of sound fiscal principles is good for the country. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say, even an old steamer like Paco Enterprises!
Smilo: More like a luxury liner, J.P.! What do you think of your fellow billionaires who say the government should raise taxes on the wealthy?
J.P.: Monstrous hypocrisy, sir! They always have the option of making donations to the U.S. Treasury if they really believe the government can put their money to better use than they, themselves, can. But of course, they know the government’s relationship to productivity is the same as the shredder’s to paper, and so they won’t contribute a dime over and above what is absolutely and legally unavoidable. It is all so much canting nonsense. What Warren Buffett and his ilk really want – having already booby-trapped their own wallets with fishhooks - is for the government to pick the other fellow’s pocket, to loot the truly productive petite riche. I assure you, Brad, the public statements of people like Buffett represent nothing but a smokescreen, an attempt to distract the advocates of class warfare from homing in on the genuine fat cats. Besides, how do we know that Buffett would, in fact, pay higher taxes under a more progressive rate schedule than he does presently? How do we know that he pays anything now? Let him publish his tax returns, that’s the real test of his sincerity.
Smilo: Some political pundits are saying that President Obama’s concessions to the Republicans on a proposed new tax bill represent an attempt at triangulation. What do you say to that?
J.P.: G.K. Chesterton once said that anything worth doing is worth doing badly, but I believe the president is rather carrying the sentiment expressed in the aphorism to an extreme. Chesterton, of course, meant that if you enjoy painting or writing poetry or playing the piccolo, you shouldn’t let the possession of only modest skills prevent you from doing something that you love to do – in other words, the thing is worth doing if only for the pleasure it gives you. I do not believe that Chesterton intended to say that a total lack of competence was immaterial in the exercise of vast and important public responsibilities. With respect to the strategy of political triangulation, the idea is to portray one’s policies as striking a reasonable balance between extremes, in the hope of peeling off enough support from the right and left to form a substantial center, from which one commands the moral heights. To pull this off, however, one must at least give the appearance of having willingly, and even cheerfully, engaged in an act of honorable compromise. President Obama has, instead, given the impression that the only reason he agreed to Republican demands is because a bunch of conservatives bound him hand and foot with duct tape, threw him in the trunk of John Boehner’s car, and drove him off to a secret location from which his captors – his “hostage takers”, I believe he called them - refused to release him until he had signed on the dotted line. In short, he appears, to the left, to be compromising on a matter of principle, and, to the right, to have done so only grudgingly, and probably with an eye toward doing an about-face at his earliest opportunity. Thus, Obama’s attempt at triangulation has wound up emphasizing the centrifugal, as opposed to the centripetal, force of the political yo-yo he’s swinging around on the end of its string, and he’s liable to wind up putting somebody’s eye out – probably Nancy Pelosi’s.
Smilo: J.P., as always, you’ve been very enlightening. Thanks for giving us a little of your valuable time. Hey…just a minute…isn’t that a photo of Lindsey Graham and…Meghan McCain? What’s with the Little Bo Peep costume?
J.P: Oh, something taken at a Halloween party, no doubt. I’ll just consign this to the blaze.
Smilo: But what was that Meghan McCain was wearing?
J.P.: I can’t say that I noticed. Ah, now we’ll never know, unfortunately. The photograph is nothing but ashes.
Spurgeon: Your hat and coat, sir.
Smilo: Thank you Spurgeon. You know, J.P., I think I saw a whip and some long leather gloves…kind of like…
J.P.: The teamster on a 19th century freight wagon? I’m sure you’re right. Please favor us with another visit at your earliest opportunity.
Smilo: Thank you, J.P! That was J. Packington Paco III, ladies and gentlemen, and you’ve been listening to an exclusive interview on the PWND radio network.