THE NITTY GRITTY

(After the Delegation arrives on Kroh,
the plot thickens ... and darkens.)

Ben Carter and the General
sat down together at another table,
looking like a mini-junta.
Said Ben, I got the word from Rip,
who got it from the crew:
The food supply is running low
and in two days we'll have to go.

So, he continued,
we were sent here with a mission
and should come to some decision
as to whether Kroh is ripe for trade.
It's clear to me
this planet lacks a minimal economy,
but has the asset of a billion population,
all of them potential
workers and consumers.
This represents a demographic
similar to baby boomers.

So here's my plan.
We'll lend them...let me see,
ten billion dollars ought to be enough
to give the Krohs the wherewithal
to buy the stuff that Earth produces
(theme parks, pesticides, and such),
and charge them only ten percent
per annum interest.  Clearly that's a deal
that any usurer would call a steal.
What collateral would we require?
None at all.  We'll take their IOU
and shake their hand.
Should they default,
we'll simply confiscate their land.

Good shot, said Dora Battle, stroking
the bright ribbons on her chest.
Now, off the record, here's what I suggest.
If we discover Kroh has gold,
uranium, or other wealth,
we colonize the planet,
send the Army Corps of Engineers
to canalize and dam it,
and several thousand
Workfare employees to man it.
Then, to guarantee the whole thing clicks,
we'll add ten thousand G.I.'s to the mix.

Said Ben, Your scheme's first rate.
Pre-emption of another state
worked pretty well
for Belgians, Frogs and Brits,
who reaped enormous benefits
before they had to call it quits.
If we both colonize
and lend at ten percent, I'll bet
that in a thousand years,
if Krohs have freed themselves of debt,
they'll be as happy as today,
with no tears or regret.

I'm curious, said Dora Battle,
what Steve Clift, our resident Geologist,
has found beneath the Krohtian ground.
Our native peoples hate to mine uranium,
and tend to get most quarrelsome
when asked to lend their tribal lands
to store atomic waste.
But Krohs, I'm sure, would gladly do
the mining and the storing too
for beads made out of paste.

I like your style, said Carter.
There's not an angle you've neglected.
Any company that trades up here
will feel itself darn well protected.
Sending soldiers is a brilliant touch.
Not that the Krohtians could do much
to block the future we've projected.

Still, said Battle, to forestall
all unexpected glitches,
we'll have to win their hearts and minds
by promising them jobs and riches.
For if the Krohtians feel disquiet,
and any of them start to riot,
prime time television features
showing G.I.'s gunning down these
teddy-bearish creatures
might cause hitches.

I see your point, said Ben.
It's not as though the Krohs were black,
with bones stuck through their noses.
Were a gold mine boss or guard
to shoot a savage in New Guinea,
kill his wife and pickaninny,
who would know or give a hoot?
(Unless a bullet ricocheted
and hit some fellow in a suit.)
But as you say,
the Krohtians are too cute to shoot.

Exactly, said the General.
We mustn't be perceived
as causing one of them to die.
To keep them calm, we'll launch
an operation code-named 'Pacify'.
This means our propaganda
has to zero in on that objective
and be ten times more effective
than it was in Vietnam.
Disinformation should be handled by a guy
as quick to lie and smoothly verbal
as the Third Reich's Joseph Goebbels,
greedy and at home with schlock
as that ex-Aussi, Rupert Murdock,
able to manipulate
minds, hearts, ambitions and emotions
while speaking easily to Krohtians.
Impossible to find?
Well, we're in luck.
The one I have in mind
to pitch the riches to the Krohtians
is the Duck.
Now don't forget, she warned,
no word of this can be repeated.

Then Dora Battle looked around
and saw Cartographer Perone, seated
at a table all alone
like some abandoned sap.
Was this because the gal he loved
was taking a mid-morning nap
with that pragmatic guy
who wore that red and yellow tie?

We'll tap this fellow too, said she,
To draw some lines upon our map.

 

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