In order not to be victimized by coal suppliers, he bought controlling interest in several mines. In order not to be victimized by money lenders, he founded a bank. And his paranoid reluctance to be a victim caused him to deal more and more in valuable papers, in stocks and bonds, and less and less in swords and pork.
Small experiments with worthless papers convinced him that such papers could be sold effortlessly. While he continued to bribe persons in government to hand over treasuries and national resources, his first enthusiasm became the peddling of watered stock. When the United States of America, which was meant to be a Utopia for all, was less than a century old, Noah Rosewater and a few men like him demonstrated the folly of the Founding Fathers in one respect: those sadly recent ancestors had not made it the law of the Utopia that the wealth of each citizen should be limited.
This oversight was engendered by a weak-kneed sympathy for those who loved expensive things, and by the feeling that the continent was so vast and valuable, and the population so thin and enterprising, that no thief, no matter how fast he stole, could more than mildly inconvenience anyone. Noah and a few like him perceived that the continent was in fact finite, and that venal office-holders, legislators in particular, could be persuaded to toss up great hunks of it for grabs, and to toss them in such a way as to have them land where Noah and his kind were standing.
Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed.
Vonnegut Jr., Kurt.
Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun. E pluribus unum is surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property, privileges, and pleasures that have been denied the many. An even more instructive motto, in the light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters, might be: Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all. Samuel became even more interested in politics than his father had been, served the Republican Party tirelessly as a king-maker, caused that party to nominate men who would whirl like dervishes, bawl fluent Babylonian, and order the militia to fire into crowds whenever a poor man seemed on the point of suggesting that he and a Rosewater were equal in the eyes of the law.
And Samuel bought newspapers, and preachers, too. He gave them this simple lesson to teach, and they taught it well: Anybody who thought that the United States of America was supposed to be a Utopia was a piggy, lazy, God-damned fool. Samuel thundered that no American factory hand was worth more than eighty cents a day. And yet he could be thankful for the opportunity to pay a hundred thousand dollars or more for a painting by an Italian three centuries dead. And he capped this insult by giving paintings to museums for the spiritual elevation of the poor.
The museums were closed on Sundays. There was something to be said for Lister and Eunice: unlike Noah and Cleota and Samuel and Geraldine, they could laugh as though they meant it. As a curious footnote to history, Eunice became Woman's Chess Champion of the United States in , and again in Eunice also wrote an historical novel about a female gladiator, Ramba of Macedon , which was a best-seller in Eunice died in , in a sailing accident in Cotuit, Massachusetts.
She was a wise and amusing person, with very sincere anxieties about the condition of the poor. She was my mother. Her husband, Lister, never was in business. From the moment of his birth to the time I am writing this, he has left the manipulation of his assets to lawyers and banks. He has spent nearly the whole of his adult life in the Congress of the United States, teaching morals, first as a Representative from the district whose heart is Rosewater County, and then as Senator from Indiana.
That he is or ever was an Indiana person is a tenuous political fiction. And Lister begat Eliot. Lister has thought about the effects and implications of his inherited wealth about as much as most men think about their left big toes. The fortune has never amused, worried, or tempted him. Giving ninety-five per cent of it to the Foundation you now control didn't cause him a twinge. Her mother was a patroness of painters. Her father was the greatest living cellist. Her maternal grandparents were a Rothschild and a DuPont.
And Eliot became a drunkard, a Utopian dreamer, a tinhorn saint, an aimless fool. Begat he not a soul. Bon voyage , dear Cousin or whoever you are. Be generous. Be kind.
You can safetly ignore the arts and sciences. They never helped anybody.
Be a sincere, attentive friend of the poor. The letter was signed, The late Eliot Rosewater.source
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine.
His heart going like a burglar alarm, Norman Mushari hired a large safe-deposit box, and he put the letter into it. That first piece of solid evidence would not be lonesome long. Mushari went back to his cubicle, reflected that Sylvia was in the process of divorcing Eliot, with old McAllister representing the defendant.
She was living in Paris, and Mushari wrote a letter to her, suggesting that it was customary in friendly, civilized divorce actions for litigants to return each other's letters. He asked her to send him any letters from Eliot that she might have saved. He got fifty-three such letters by return mail.
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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; or Pearls before Swine
USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. About the Author. Date of Birth: November 11, Date of Death: April 11, Place of Birth: Indianapolis, Indiana. Read an Excerpt A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.
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