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The Wizard of Fraud

LARRY GROSSMAN
Guest Columnist
grossman@lbknews.com

Dorothy, Toto, the, Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion ascended the upper floors of the Tower of Power to finally reach the Olympian Penthouse. They had an audience with the Wizard to ask him to not send them back to Sam Brownback’s Kansas. This was especially important for Toto who was writing his Ph. D. dissertation on the impact of climate change on canines, especially small dogs with four letter names.

The elevator doors opened and they viewed a plush luxuriantly furnished apartment. They spotted a man’s bespoken legs in a booth partially hidden by a curtain. They heard a booming voice shouting “pigs” “losers” and “weaklings” and figured it was the Wizard preparing for the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate on Fox.

Toto ran toward the booth and pulled aside the curtain with his jaws to reveal the Wizard, a hulking body topped by what appeared to Toto like a strange red fur hat. What animal was this? Toto asked. Hopefully it was not a canine with a four letter name.

The Wizard greeted them by saying “Let me introduce myself,” Dorothy thought he was channeling Mick Jagger. The Wizard turned to his board with its big levers and explained how what he called, “The Levers of Power,” worked and how they made him rich and powerful. The Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow listened attentively.

The first lever, the lever of leverage, was how to make money using very little of your own money – the art of the deal. The key was other people’s money (OPM) and limited liability companies (LLC). The Wizard explained that if the deal goes south he can declare the company bankrupt and walk away with OPM while the “losers” get to, well, lose their investment and their jobs. If the deal is successful he is all the better – more money. Either way he wins – that’s why they call him the Wizard.  He also said he was really, really rich; repeatedly.

Critical to his success was to use the second lever, the lever of influence. Politicians always need money for campaigns, future jobs and whatnot (ask ex-Governor of Va. Bob McDonnell) so he gives money generously to all who could influence the decision making affecting the deal. Said the Wizard, “I always was an equal opportunity spender because you need to cover all your bases in both political parties. The party favors come later in abundance and from all political directions.”

Dorothy asked, “Could you give me an example of how these levers worked to your advantage?”

Smart girl thought the Wizard. Someday she could replace that bloody Megyn Kelly. Just from the ears, nose and throat he thought.

“Well”, he said. “Let’s say you don’t want the Native Americans from upstate Oz to compete with your gambling casinos in another state. Use your influence with politicians to prevent these first American losers from getting licensed. Or let’s say you want to help a socio-economically distressed area revitalize (gentrify) to spur economic development. Get your political friends to buy the land and give it to you for redevelopment. If the venture fails – well you’ve already made your money and are out the door.  Or let’s say some weak-kneed government officials beholden to their radical environmentalist losers don’t let you develop in the middle of a forest. Give them a conservation easement, over price the value for tax purposes and have them name the park after you with a great big exit sign off the parkway, “Wizard Park”.  Don’t invest in the park to make it useable for the public because you’ve done your deal. Not your problem. In fact sell your name whenever you can. Lotsa people want to pay dearly for my name– even the Washington Wizards basketball team. That cost them lotsa plenty.”

Scarecrow said, “Your art of the deal is to use OPM, whether investors or the general tax-paying public, to make money for you regardless of the outcome and who might be hurt. Then you use the proceeds to buy off politicians to grant you more favors.”

“Who said you don’t have a brain Straw guy? But lemme tell you that the system is broken.”

The Scarecrow asked, “Well, how would you fix it?”

The Wizard replied, “By being the next President of the great land of Oz.”

The Scarecrow’s straw brain dissembled all over the floor rug-emblazoned with the seal of the Presidency.

The Tin Woodman, tearing up, yelled, “You don’t have a heart!” and then his mouth rusted shut.

The Cowardly Lion mustered all his courage and roared, “You are the Wizard of Fraud!”

Suddenly, Dorothy and her friends were in a corn field.

Toto growled, “Damn You Lion.”

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