Bob Franken


If only Horatio Alger had been around today instead of the 19th century, so he could write new stories about how hard work is all it takes to make your fortune. He would have so much material.

Actually the updated saga would begin in a late 20th century setting for a character who was living the American Dream. Perhaps he would have landed his first job, right out of college, with Time-Warner, just in time for all the excitement of the merger with AOL. We could have marveled with hm at the geniuses who came up with that idea. Not only that, but there were seemingly endless other exciting employment prospects what with so many high-tech companies which were growing wildly.

But our hero decided on the Enron Corporation. Where else could he watch creative entrepreneurs in action? The only better place might be one of those huge accounting firms who always made sure things stayed on the straight and narrow.

By now, it was time to put down roots. Nothing marks stability like buying a home. After all, the value of real estate always increases. He did wonder how it was he was able to borrow so much, for such a big house, on his still-small salary. But who was he to question? Let the good times roll. And if things got tough, he could always moonlight in his hometown as a telephone customer service rep. That had become such a growth industry here in the US of A.

There was no question he would soon be worth more. Look at how the stock markets and all the equities put a lie to the law of gravity. There was nothing to worry about. Government regulators were always there to make sure things were on the up and up. Making money was as sure a thing as, say, General Motors…”Like a Rock”.

After awhile he became such an investment expert that he moved on to the world of high finance. The money was so good at Lehman Brothers that he couldn’t resist. He worked in the Hedge Fund Department, dealing in “can’t miss” Derivatives. He came upon this remarkable fund where he could stash most of his personal wealth.. Te portfolio was run by this brilliant guy named Bernie Madoff. He had an astoundingly track record and so many really really rich people who put their trust in the guy. They had to know what they were doing Madoff had an uncanny ability to bring in consistent returns, no matter how the market was doing. And again, hadn’t the SEC investigated at one point and given Bernie Madoff a clean bill of health? What could go wrong?

Our guy was living large. Even when a few piddly things didn’t quite work out, he never lost his sense of optimism, his belief in the system that had made our country so great. Did I mention, by the way, his name was Paul E. Anna? He still has that same cheery outlook. He believes his future is bright. After all, he still has his 401k.

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