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Confession of a Dupe Dealer

(va: To dupers and dupees everywhere)

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin
at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain: Author, Karora

On odd occasions, one can encounter contrition in the red-white-&-blue, balloon-strewn ballroom of 6-AM, post-convention chaos. That’s where I encountered PR. He was alone, seated in Thinker repose, a damp hanky drying upon his knee. He’d had a dream, he said. Maybe more like a vision. If he publically confessed, he said, there was some unspecified chance he could clear the inside edge of outer darkness. Infinitely better than achieving the nucleus, he’d been told. Thus, he’d descended from his sky-suite to make confession. Not a “public” soul was anywhere in sight. He was grateful I had come, he said. Did I think I could be considered public enough? I said I didn’t know, but perhaps we could try. (I didn’t tell him I was there to recycle the balloons. He never asked.)

He wanted his confession recorded, he said. Maybe that would make it public enough. I turned on my phone recorder. He spoke:

▪ I preached that repeating a fabrication often enough made it sound true. It does, but it’s still a lie.
▪ I claimed that crafted words would cover a multitude of sins. I was wrong.
▪ I crafted lies to malign the strengths of opponents. Such was inexcusably wrong.
▪ I thought selling colleagues my right words would be smart. It wasn’t. They sounded scripted and mindless when juxtaposed.
▪ I sponsored lies to counter worse lies. I severely offended truth.
▪ I thought pointing fingers would deflect judgment. It doesn’t.
▪ I claimed that free/unregulated markets were fair. They’re not. They never have been. They always become regulated by tyrannies of some form or other.
▪ I said unregulated markets would control greed, excess, and inefficiency through competition. It was a lie.
▪ I said profit seekers could be trusted to self-regulate. They can’t.
▪ I said invasive redistribution of wealth was wrong. I was right. Except I was wrong about the historical and persisting direction of flow.
▪ I said employees would be honestly and fairly compensated in the competitive profit system. It was mostly a lie.
▪ I disparaged the time, talents, knowledge, skills, and labor of workers as the purest form of wealth (excepting, of course, when considering the upper-crust). I was wrong to foster that demoralizing corruption.
▪ I said corporations were like people. I was wrong.
▪ I said corporations were the job creators. I was less than half-right.
▪ I claimed money did not compromise democracy—that it lubricated it. Another lie.
▪ I promoted that extremism in defense of liberty was no vice. I was extremely wrong.
▪ I said riches were God’s reward. I was wrong. They are His toughest test.
▪ I claimed socialism/communism was our worst enemy. I was wrong. We capital dupers are.
▪ … … … [etc., until—]
▪ In short, I have been a dupe dealer all my life—a 1st-class duper. Actually a super-duper. I’ve taught and scripted thousands of other dupers. I have, with my crafted words, created millions of dupees. I told myself it was justified. It was for a good cause. It was in defense of God, country, and free-markets. It turned out to be the precise opposite.
▪ I was shown an even more skilled super-duper. I was shocked. I’d been a dupee, too! OK, OK, I wasn’t really shocked. I kinda knew all along. I just didn’t want to admit—I really enjoyed being a super-duper. It fulfilled all three of the Big Temptations. It was incredibly rewarding. I was warned about that, too—about confession and then recidivism.
▪ I’m very conflicted. If this really goes public, what will become of me?
▪ Anyway, it’s all just déjà vu, from what I saw.
▪ Dupers and dupees everywhere.
▪ Hearing and hearing not. Seeing and seeing not. I read that somewhere once. I wonder where that was?

Thanks to Calvin Trillin for sparking this title idea with Confessions of a Dupe from With All Disrespect: More Uncivil Liberties by Calvin Trillin © 1985, p. 80.