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B. Royce

Businessmen Are Great

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The President stood with a sly half smile of scorn in his eyes and on his lips as he looked at the group of the nation's top businessmen sitting in the dim light. He was ready to wind up the speech in which he had excoriated them for their hunger for selfish, greedy profits at the expense of the public good. He had gotten little reaction, and so felt sure that they were numb with guilt. As he paused he remenbered his childhood preacher's technique, and now, in a hard, yet compassionate-seeming tone, he asked, "Is there one of you who would like to stand up now and confess his guilt openly, and abjure his sin, and so relieve his soul of the terrible weight of evil selfishness?"

From the sides of the wide hall came the sound of a couple of good-natured chuckles, then at the back of the relatively small, 200 seat auditorium several middle-aged men rose in a body and shouted, with unbelievable gladness in their voices, "Yes, we are guilty, wonderfully, gloriously guilty!" Then one of them, tall, with a deep, clear baritone, said, "I am proudly and happily guilty of selfishness. But it is a guilt which is innocent, an innocense which is my virtue, my joy and my triumph!"

Then there was light-hearted laughter that rose and became louder as it swept from side to side and from front to back of the brightly lit room (Yes, someone had turned up the lights to full power!). And one by one other businessmen proudly and somewhat cockily stood up to say, "I am selfish; selfishness is good; therefore, I am good!" and "Hooray for selfishness! It makes the world go round!" and "Down with selflessness! No more public good! The only good public is a selfish public!" and "No more giving, no more taking! Trade is all!" and "We are the doers, the makers, the creators, the great and noble profiteers!"

The whole hall was filled with men standing, laughing, high-fiving, applauding, shaking hands and cheering! It was a human volcano of pure spiritual joy. It had been building up for centuries, and now it was creating the greatest symphonic climax ever written!

I am just a reporter, but I, too, was caught up in the moral enthusiasm. I didn't care so much about a story, I just wanted more than anything to set one big headline across every newspaper in the country, in the world, even, right smack dab on the front page in letters three inches high---BUSINESSMEN ARE GREAT!

"Oh yeah," I thought, "what about the President?" I looked over the podium and saw only empty space.


Brian Faulkner

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