Monday, February 20, 2012

Part Eighteen, Chapter Six - The Exciting World of Economics

This chapter's ten pages long?  Aw, Hubbard, you shouldn't have.

For two hours Gris watches Heller wander around campus, trying to plot out his impossible schedule in which he has two to three classes going on at the same time in different buildings, followed by an hour-long lull before the next barrage of education.  Our villain exults at our hero's distress, and laughs that this nightmare of classwork goes on for seven days a week.  I didn't know you could get classes on Sundays.  

Not content to laugh at the mighty combat engineer brought low by an obstructive bureaucrat, Gris proceeds to laugh at all the stupid students carrying on around him, unaware of the fact that he's from another planet.  Some of those stupid students remark on Heller's cleats and wonder if he's on the baseball team, and he gets a chorus of giggles by responding that "You can't get to first base" without them, dating advice that I'll have to keep in mind.

And then Epstein shows up, in a "shabby" suit (of course) and lugging a huge roll of paper.  He prefers to go by Izzy, so Heller decides to go by Jet.  It turns out that yes, Izzy did walk home sans clothing the other chapter, but hit the Salvation Army Good Will for some handouts.  He's worked all night on his plan for Heller's road to riches, but the only materials available to write it out were from the art building.  Hence the 1'x12' scroll of paper and the garish paints.  Izzy unrolls the diagram with the help of onlooking students and attempts to explain the symbols and lines on it.

To summarize four pages of econobabble: Izzy is using his financial sorcery to set up an array of mask corporations, arbitrage networks, multinationals, private accounts in the Bahamas, and so forth to not only ensure Heller's prosperity but also his anonymity.  His name won't appear anywhere on the paperwork.  Furthermore, the way things are set up, the corporations Heller has invested in can go bankrupt to their hearts' content, and Heller can just sell his shares and move on.  Manipulating currency alone will run a weekly profit, and Heller will be totally untouchable, immune to Mr. Bury's wrath.

And it wasn't until Heller came along that Izzy thought to do this?  He never put these skills towards his own benefit, never fled the country and the IRS to make billions in some European banking hub?

His presentation mostly finished, Izzy brings up what he needs Heller's input for - the logo of Multinational, the parent advisory company that will be managing all these stock market shenanigans and financial magic tricks.  It's an old round bomb with a lit fuse, because Izzy is a wacky pseudo-anarchist, remember?  Heller's a bit confused by all this, but approves the design for the "chemical powder bomb" all the same.

It turns out that not only has Izzy come up with this economic plan, but he's also put Heller's two hundred bucks from the other day to good use.  He was able to take it to a bank and prove that he's worth a five thousand dollar loan, which Izzy used to re-enroll in the university so he can get his doctor's.  He even has a new thesis title - "The Use of Corporations in Undermining Totally the Existing World Order."  It doesn't use the word "government," you see, so nobody objects to it.

His lengthy, tiring infodump completed, Izzy rolls up his economic blueprint to go home, over the objections of the onlooking students, who have alternately mistaken it for a banner announcing a new riot or some sort of psychedelic art project.  Heller hands over another ten thousand bucks for Izzy to get started with, and the economist vows to have things up and running by Tuesday, which would mean something if we knew what day it was now.

And Gris decides that despite this majestic construct of dummy corporations and offshore bank accounts, Izzy is a neurotic shyster who is going to take Heller's money and run.  So he doesn't need to do anything.  Nope, he can keep watching Heller, and not worry that his nemesis is about to become obscenely wealthy.  Everything will work out just fine.  No need to get off the damned couch.

I laughed.  Maybe that was the last Heller would ever see of him!

"Maybe."  So Gris isn't sure, but is still content to continue to watch rather than interfere.

Hubbard?  When your villains practically defeat themselves through their own apathy and stupidity, it kinda undermines your hero's accomplishments.  You don't need to be a charismatic, superhuman space commando to defeat the likes of Soltan Gris.  You just have to be slightly smarter than Soltan Gris, and that isn't difficult at all.

Back to Chapter Five


  1. When I read this in my stupid and impressionable youth, I totally missed how horrible Izzy actually is. His sociopolitical views, combined with his access to obscene amounts of money and influence through Jet, make him scarier than Gris.

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  3. This whole "set up a whole array of fake organizations and corporate entities to shield yourself" is exactly what Hubbard did with Scientology. Coincidence?

  4. I was thinking the same thing as Francois.