To have fifteen minutes of time from a man like Jacob Pinchon is a gift beyond value. Four nights ago as I sat at the bar in Vulca, after having a modest dinner by my standards with Valeri, the lawyer most of the press here in hell refers to as The Invisible Man sat down next to me and struck up a conversation.

“Fred,” Pinchon began after shaking my hand and congratulating me on my fourth Coal Sack Award for journalism research, “what do you really know about me?”

I sipped at my glass of bourbon on the rocks with a splash of ginger ale and replied, “Not much at all really. I know you graduated from the Universitje di Dis School of Law about 25 Terran Standard years ago and you built one of the most successful law firms in Hell from the dust up.”

“Most successful,” Pinchon corrected smiling, his gray eyes twinkling. He ordered a gin and tonic with extra gin and settled into the seat. “I was born in Maidstone, Kent in 1911 the son of two poorly educated people who loved me and tried despite all the class barriers to give me a good life. At the age of fourteen, if I recall correctly, I went to become an apprentice pipe fitter with a medium sized company in North London. I worked hard got very good at what I did, helped my parents and three siblings out of poverty and I died in 1977.” He took a long pull off his drink and continued.

“I never delved into politics, I had no care for it at the time, but when I arrived in Hell and as they say, the scales were removed from my eyes I sought to do the things that I neglected to do when I was corporeal.”

I furrowed my brow questioningly and Pinchon went on, “The law always fascinated me and I immediately immersed myself in its study upon my arrival. Before I opened my own firm I worked long hours for Housebrooke and March and then nearly made partner at Chouxin, Brailles and Pertwee. It was that disappointment that taught me two things about the law practice in Hell. One, that there isn’t really a good way to make one’s mark other than opening one’s own firm. And, two, lawyers by their nature are the insatiably greedy offspring of a female cannibal and male rat. That said I have questions of you of what can be done such that the Living now can have the sort of life that I enjoyed and even better a life like I enjoy now here in Hell.”

“Mr Pinchon, if I had the answer to that I would be twice as wealthy and ten times as happy as you are today,” I replied, before ordering another double of Basil Hayden’s finest. “The problems are too complex to be solved easily in my old country. The haves aren’t too quick to give up what they have and the have nots do not seem to know that the brass ring is still within their grasp even though the ladder to it has many purposefully broken rungs.”

Jacob Pinchon smiled a lawyer’s deep knowing smile, “You know, a great lawyer, it is said, is the one who never asks a question they do not know the answer of beforehand. Let’s talk about what we can do for those have nots for a moment.” I nodded. “There is a problem, a deep problem with poverty in America is there not?”

“This is a rhetorical question, right?” Pinchon now nodded. “In America there are 44 million or so people living in poverty as defined by USA metrics. That means for a family of four . . .” The noted corporate lawyer cut me off.

“Has a household income of less than $ 23,050 per year. Yes, I know the figures. The statistics are staggering indeed and I think the numbers make it impossible for solutions to be found by the haves who are the only people who can make any inroads into this mountain. Government in America has thrown trillions of dollars at poverty since the Great Society days and it has had little to no effect. people still fall into poverty. So their must be something systematically wrong here. There must be some control that continues to allow people to be lost to the middle class when there is so much to be done. Government cannot solve this issue along because they are moribund because of political bickering; corporations have no profit motive to do anything about a child who goes to be hungry no matter if it is in Detroit or Owlsley County, Kentucky. Black, brown or white in this case doesn’t matter only green.”

I wanted to say where was this going and Pinchon got to his point. “It must be both working in concert with the understanding that government cannot grow too large and corporations must give back to the middle class a lifestyle that makes their servitude worthwhile.”

“Servitude?” I asked as my drink arrived.

“Yes, Fred, that’s the trade every worker makes to work in the capitalist brothel. Your work which generates profit, for their currency which gives you consumer power. There is no better system of commerce ever devised, that is, until those with the jobs decide profit is more important than people and they want their money now rather than over the long term. Corporations, Mr Schwartz have lost their long view. To right this ship that is the American economy they need to be more like the Mayans and less like Miley Cyrus.”

That Pinchon even knew who Miley Cyrus was struck me as odd. “So what’s your solution?” I asked as the warm sting of the bourbon hit my chest with its friendly fingers.

“The money corporations waste annually spying on one another would be enough to finance two projects that are excellent first steps to solving the poverty problem. The first would be to implement a program similar to Roosevelt’s New Deal work programs. But before then we have to make steps, and the government would help here, to eliminate the barriers that people have to work. The chief one I see is the criminalization of drugs. Now, no one Fred wants their workers high while at work, but barring someone because they have had a drug addiction in the past is simply economically stupid. 44 million people with spending power because they make twice the poverty level of income is worth giving up the draconian policies that go back nearly a century concerning recreational drug use. The other half which is where government would come in would be to create a federal teaching agency that would replace the Department of Education, hire teachers and provide the essentials that give every child in America a chance to go to college and be more than they would be without higher education. I know, some people will fail, some people prefer the drug life or a life of thuggery over success and those people will always be with any nation. What I grow tired of seeing is this crushing weight on the middle class that threatens to destroy America and plunge your old country as you call it into a nation of the elite who care nothing for those who have served them with their sweat and currency and are comfortable with the 1% being their only customers.”

With that Pinchon picked up his drink and went back over to his table and left me with his ideas.

Pax Terra!

Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., CS, O.Q.H [Journ.]
Managing Editor—Research
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
73 1 Leviathan 2 AS

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