“Dear Mr. President, Internal Revenue regulations will turn us into a nation of bookkeepers. The life of every citizen is becoming a business. This, it seems to me, is one of the worst interpretations of the meaning of human life history has ever seen. Man’s life is not a business.” —Saul Bellow, Herzog
“…if you take away just one thing from this evening, always remember this: The banks and insurance companies are only too happy to sell you an umbrella on a sunny day, but they’ll yank it away from you at the first sign of rain.” —Lloyd Marrsden, speaking to Gordon in Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg
Beet-cheeked, squinty-eyed, morbidly obese, Lloyd Marrsden is a man whose life has become a morally bankrupt (but highly profitable) business. Specifically, he’s an insurance broker to the rocket industry. He also happens to be a 33rd-degree Mason with deep and spooky ties to the medico- military-occult complex. Lloyd knows things. He profits from that knowledge at other people’s expense.
“Don’t you feel guilty, taking advantage of people like that?” Gordon asks him at a party, after he hears Lloyd gloating over one of his favorite insurance scams.
“Guilty? It’s the American way!” says Lloyd. “This country was founded on the principle of taking advantage of other people. Look at what we did to the Native Americans—not only did we steal their land; we subjected them to the most brutal campaign of genocide in human history. America is one big Indian burial ground, when you get right down to it. And then we kick-started our mighty economic engine by exploiting African slaves. If you think anyone ever gets rich without taking advantage of other people, you’re just being willfully naïve. ‘Behind every fortune lies a crime.’ I believe it was Balzac who said that—or Mario Puzo…. If it’s not written into our Constitution, it’s somewhere in The Godfather, I’m almost certain.”
Later, Lloyd goes on to explain: “Predatory lending—that’s the key. Goad your intended victim into taking on debt and then use that debt as a means of control. It works on governments as well as individuals. The Rothschilds understood this method and exploited it better than anyone. Using the National City Bank of Cleveland as a front, they financed John D. Rockefeller’s monopolistic acquisitions for Standard Oil. Now the Rockefellers control several key transnational corporations along with Chase Manhattan—arguably the most powerful bank in America—but who controls the Rockefellers? The answer is: the Rothschilds, of course.”
“Yeah, well… so how does that relate to any of us?” Gordon asks him, feeling surly.
“It relates in two ways,” Lloyd says. “On a microeconomic level, you have the pernicious influence of credit cards, the means by which bankers feed off the financial life-blood of the masses, much the same way as vampire bats feed off of cattle. It’s predatory lending on an unimaginably vast scale. You probably didn’t know this, but that little experiment in picking your pocket got its start right here in Fresno County. Back in 1958, Bank of America did the first credit card mass mailing to 66,000 unsuspecting Fresno County families. It was a huge success, obviously—for the bankers. By 1960, over two million cards were in circulation throughout California, at generally usurious rates.
“On the macroeconomic side of things, we handed over control of our economy—and thus our government—to a cartel of international bankers when Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. That ingenious piece of legislation was cobbled together in a secret meeting at J.P. Morgan’s private retreat out on Jekyll Island. Morgan was in on it, of course, as were the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. The American public has been whipsawed for gigantic profits from pre-engineered bouts of inflation and deflation ever since. Wars, recessions, even presidential elections—the Fed controls it all with monetary policy, our economy’s magic elixir.”
I had all of the above in mind as I watched the subprime mortgage market meltdown play out over the last few months, leading to our current “credit crisis.” [Of course, things are a bit more complicated than Lloyd’s necessarily brief cocktail party patter; see this link for a more nuanced picture of what’s currently going down.] I thought it was especially interesting that financial stocks like Wells Fargo Bank suddenly leaped 5% higher in the last hours of trade on the day before Ben Bernanke’s early morning “surprise” half-point cut to the Fed discount rate on August 17th, 2007. Conservative blue-chip stocks with huge market caps like Wells Fargo (Warren Buffet owns a chunk of it) don’t often make 5% moves in a few hours on no news. After Bernanke’s announcement, of course, Wells Fargo and the rest of the financials traded much higher—and those people in the know who bought the stock on the day before made a big, fat profit.
Lloyd, in my book, is the sort of guy who would have bought put options on airline stocks right before the attack on the World Trade Center, had he known what was coming down (and he would have known… along with others whom Congressman Dennis Kucinich is hoping to nail). Gordon sees him, at first, as a modern incarnation of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi: a “fat, crazed, scatological king who keeps his conscience in a suitcase.” But Lloyd turns out to be a much more mercurial figure than that. He’s equal parts Ubu, Moses Herzog, John Perkins, and Aleister Crowley. Is he good? Is he bad? The answer isn’t always clear. As Gordon gets to know him better on their road trip to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Lloyd even shows some flashes of vulnerability, flipping open the locks on his brushed aluminum Zero Halliburton suitcase to let his conscience speak:
“It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that corporations are immortal soulless entities that take as much as they can and give nothing in return,” he admits. “Their primary goal is to keep increasing productivity and earnings in an all-devouring, endless cycle. Corporate egregores exploit their workers, pollute the environment, and turn vast quantities of the world’s irreplaceable natural resources into disposable junk products, all just to show a quarterly profit. They steal from the poor and give to the rich, creating enormous concentrations of wealth in the hands of just a few thousand elitist assholes. If Reagan and Bush get their way and all that money and power isn’t redistributed—via a system of fair taxes and the checks and balances built into our Constitution—then America’s liberal, democratic society will soon be looking a lot more like a corporate-sponsored fascist police state. And that will be because, quite simply, the egregores of unchecked capitalism tend to penalize those who would better the lot of humanity, while at the same time rewarding the relatively few unbridled sociopaths who take advantage of anyone and anything that they can.”
“Yeah, but where would we be without porno and Diet Coke?” Jimmy asks, pointing to just two of their recent purchases.
“Well, if you can’t beat ‘em…” Lloyd says cheerfully. “Seriously, why do you think I ended up in the insurance racket, anyway? My line of work probably has some of the most evil egregores out there—aside from Big Oil and the tobacco companies—yet most insurance brokers see that evil as something apart from themselves. They fail to recognize it as coming from their own hearts and souls.”
“But not you,” says Gordon.
“No… not me,” says Lloyd. “Not now, at least. That’s why I’m here doing my penance, trying to provide a little enlightened adult guidance to a carload of snarky but redeemable teenage jerk-offs.”
For more of Lloyd’s warped adult guidance, you can start here: