Tending the Money Tree

John was a college instructor living on a modest property with a quaint cottage in Michigan, where the trees are the right height. His parents had passed on without leaving him any inheritance of which to speak, and he had accumulated significant debt by attending graduate school and relying on student loans and credit cards to live. He could not properly afford the property, as his meager teaching salary could not make a dent in his monthly budget. The bank went ahead and gave him the loan, content in allowing John to flounder with his head barely above water until the day when they could evict him from the property.

John appealed to the community college he worked for a living wage, but his appeals were soundly rebuked. Adjunct teachers do not deserve equal pay as professors, since apparently they do not serve the same function as tenured professors. When asked how their function was different, most administrators conveniently had something else to do, and John was ushered to the door.

When a third past due notice came in the mail, John went to his backyard to pray. In his backyard was a grand, old oak tree that John loved. He wanted the property for the tree, not the house, as John preferred the grand outdoors to staying inside a stuffy house. The tree stood triumphantly in the center of the five-acre plot, the centerpiece of a natural sanctuary in which John identified with a greater power. He loved this tree with all of his hippie, tree-hugging heart. It was the only reason he wanted to stay on the property. He prayed to the tree, as it was the last connection with any concept of self-worth, love, or God he retained.

He buried his face in the dirt before the tree and prayed, “Please help me.” The tree, which loved John back, promptly answered by dropping all the money that John needed for solvency. Bills of American cash shook out of the grand oak, accumulating about John, who was jubilant. Denominations of all number of dollar bills floated lazily in the air until enough cash had settled to relieve John of his debt problems. John spent the better part of an afternoon raking, until he had a substantial pile to count. He gently stroked the oak tree and whispered his thanks.

He spent the night stacking and counting his money, until the amount of $177, 348 was tallied. $124,350 would pay off the mortgage, $28, 672 would pay off his school loans, and $12, 347 would pay off his three credit cards. This left him $11, 979 to put into a savings account and allowed John to let go of a lifetime’s worth of stress, accumulated due to a daily regimen of wondering how he was going to make it to the next day. He was not, in fact, a rich man, but John felt like a rich man for the first time in his life. This feeling cured John of much of his physical, mental, and spiritual woes.

The next day, he went to the bank where he was treated like a champion for the first time in his life. Bank tellers scrambled to accommodate his every need, asking if he would like to consider investment options. He politely thanked them and flatly stated that he would like to pay off his debts primarily. A slightly-overweight bank manager scrambled to speak and shake sweaty hands with John. John inquired about purchasing a certificate of deposit, but the disgusted look of the bank manager indicated that CDs were antiquated and idiotic. John decided to place the remainder of his balance into a savings account, stating that he would consider further investment options later with the manager. The manager looked even more disgusted and asked, “Where did you get all this money?” John replied, “I guess I am loved.”

John went about his life happily, teaching with a meager salary, but free of the worry of crushing debt. As he continued to teach, he developed a strong rapport with his students, as he usually did. He often counseled his students about their own financial problems, struggling to answer questions about the validity of placing one’s self into such overwhelming debt for a college degree. His empathy got the best of John, and one day, he decided to appeal to his money tree to provide enough money for the students in his classes. The tree happily complied and dropped enough money for John to give to his students. On the final day of the semester, he distributed the money evenly to every student who attended his classes.

Several students posted news of this act of philanthropy on Facebook. The national media caught wind of this, and John soon found lines of people amassing at his front door, asking politely for assistance. John, with his good heart and rose-colored glasses, happily handed out bushels of cash to all comers. The money tree happily cooperated, never shunning John for a request to help the needy. Some of the recipients promised to pay the gift back to John, but he always refused such an offer. There was plenty for everybody, and he never considered that those who took money had to return the favor with labor, exorbitant interest, or heightened mental stress.

The United States government soon caught wind of John and his money tree. The U.S. National Guard advanced and chased away the long line of needy Americans from John’s door. The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers quickly erected a thirty-foot tall wall about John’s property, with barbed wire, spotlights, and motion-detecting sensors. A security detail was assigned to guard John, his property, and the valuable money tree.

The President visited John and informed him that his property had been designated a national park, and John was now the Secretary of the Department of Money Tending and Lending. He was assigned two advisors who would be attending John for the rest of his days. Their names were Republican Rob and Democratic Dave.

Rob and Dave never left John’s side. Rob was constantly chattering in his ear, while Dave interjected here and there, mostly deferring to Rob’s judgment.

Rob insisted that John could not simply hand out money freely to those who needed it. It would unfairly devalue the U.S. dollar, and it was better given to entrepreneurs who were willing to allow the money to trickle down into the hands of needy citizens. If citizens were given free money, then they would become lazy and complacent.

Dave agreed in that the money needed to be regulated, lest the money not find its way through government programs, where administrators could fairly receive their due compensation for such regulation. Dave also frequently mentioned for John to listen to Rob, since he knew more about finances than Dave did.

John often countered by asking why the money could not be fairly distributed to all Americans, especially those who needed a place to live or eat or receive an education. Rob angrily shook his head. Citizens have to earn their way. John wanted to know why Rob insisted that Americans needed to be unhappy when it was possible to make everybody feel the happiness that John had experienced. Rob stated that America’s economy depended on consumer debt and corporate satisfaction. Dave simply shrugged and agreed that this is the way it has to be. When John replied about how stimulating the economy by providing citizens with more money to spend might be better for America, both Rob and Dave simply whistled and ignored John’s economic theories, since they both assumed John never knew best about such lofty concepts.

Rob and Dave relentlessly hounded John to the point where he could no longer sleep, work, or eat. John lost all of the happiness of his life, and he refused to ask the money tree for gifts. Rob and Dave demanded he pray to his tree. Rob commanded the armed guard to level their weapons at John and pray to the damned tree. John wrapped his arms around his beloved tree and wept. A single one-dollar bill lazily floated from the tree, which Rob hastily snatched from the air. Rob angrily screamed at John to stop sobbing and demanded to know where the rest of the money was. Dave simply stared downward and nervously shuffled his feet. John repeated a single phrase as he cried for his tree, “I’m so sorry.” Rob grew frustrated with John and commanded everybody to leave the sissy hippie alone with his God-damned tree, in the hope that maybe some alone-time would bear some sweet, financial fruit.

John kissed his tree and stated, “I love what I thought you were, but I don’t love what politicians think you are.” The grand, old oak tree shuddered, expressing such requited love for John. It rapidly dropped all of its leaves to the ground, withered, and died. John grieved for the death of his tree, thanking it for its good intentions, patriotic experimentation, symbolic gestures, natural grandeur, and neighborly companionship. Then, John stormed to his garage and returned to his arboreal companion with an axe. He swung and landed one solid blow into the dead money tree. As John attempted a second blow, an assassin’s bullet rang through the air, the axe thudded to the ground, and the Department of Money Tending and Lending ceased to exist.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}


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