Paranoid franchise curmudgeon: If we all play our parts…

August 13, 2009

GregHouse * paranoia: a thought process characterized by excessive anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Wikipedia

* curmudgeon n. a miser or an ill-tempered (and frequently old) person full of stubborn ideas or opinions. Wikipedia

Dr. Greg House a role played by an actor, called Hugh Laurie. He also fooled around in Blackadder.

A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. William S. Burroughs

I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.  J. D. Salinger

If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia. Margaret Atwood

Terry’s right: I better start reading some more non-fiction and put Innis away for a while.

Franchise Bankers are on the Autobahn to Perdition

January 10, 2009


As I promised, more thought-provoking ideas from Saul‘s, The Doubter’s Companion.

BANKERS Pillars of society who are going to hell if there is a God and He has been accurately quoted.

All three Western religions have always forbidden the collection of interest on loans. When Samuel Johnson defined the banker in the eighteenth century his status was clear: “One that trafficks in money.” Their venal sin of usury [excessive interest] continues to sit high on lists of scriptural wrongdoing, which raise the question of why bankers – the money-market sort excluded – tend to be frequent church goers. The respect in which they have increasingly been held over the last two centuries has paralleled the growth of economics based on long-term debt, which spread into every corner of society, from governments and corporations to the poor. The more money owed, the more the lender is respected, so long as the borrower intends to pay it back.

But what effect does this have on the moral position of bank employees? Few modern bankers are owners. Except through their salaries they do not profit from interest payments. Are they or are they not among the damned? Perhaps they should themselves be seen as victims of usury, having little choice but to lend their lives to the usurious process in order to feed their families. Yet for the borrower, these employees are the human face of usury.

The clearest situation for bankers would be if God didn’t exist. They would then be morally home-free and could go to church in a more relaxed frame of mind. See: DEBT.

Margaret Atwood observes lately that Christianity is based primarily on debt: Jesus came and redeemed man, opened the gates of heaven and paid off all past and future debt. The Aramaic words for debt and sin are the same. In the Lord’s Prayer, believers are directed to forgive trespasses (debts, offences) and it appears She does only as much as you forgive others their debts.

  • One of my lawn sprinkler customers retired after 35 years with the Royal Bank of Canada in 2009. She looks 10 years younger in 4 months and attributes it not having to lie to her neighbours anymore about what the bank did to them.

A recurring theme is that debt is a form of death, is life-taking. You make your own hell by losing your soul now, let alone the everlasting damnation bit (perdition). autobahn

The Road to Perdition, 2002 movie with Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law.

Debt: What we Owe and to Whom really matters

October 13, 2008

I just finished the first read of a terrific book by one of Canada’s national treasures, Margaret Atwood, called Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth.

As the back page says:

Payback is not about practical debt management or high finance, although it does touch upon these subjects. Rather, it is an investigation into the idea of debt as an ancient and central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies.

By investigating how debt has informed our thinking from pre-literate times to the present day, Atwood shows that the idea what we owe one another – in other words, “debt” – is built into the human imagination and is one of its most dynamic metaphors.

“These are not lectures about how to get out of debt; rather, they’re about the debtor/creditor twinship in the broadest sense – from human sacrifice to pawnshops to revenge. In this light, what we owe and how we pay is a feature of all human societies, and profoundly shapes our shared values and our cultures.”


Her timing could not have been better considering the international debt crisis and her perspective is breathtaking.

I believe the debtor/creditor relationship is central to understanding franchising.

Payback raises some interesting perspectives. In franchising:

  • the selling cycle trades on a universal human fairness gene (and then its post-sale inversion/betrayal),
  • good faith provisions may achieve justice theoretically but usually only breeds revenge and heavier chains,
  • some debts are not money debts (moral debts, imbalances in the right order of things),
  • a cornerstone provision of franchise law (non-compete) fundamentally breaks ancient Hebrew laws that are reflected in modern bankruptcy protection (Halakha law: do not to take away a man’s means of livelihood),
  • franchisors are as imprisoned as franchisees are indentured (Scrooge was a creditor, see Jacob Marley),
  • the Big Lie will be forever broken by a female acting as if she were a lawyer who, after unsuccessfully appealing for mercy, finds the condition not present in all franchise agreements that makes them unenforceable (ie. a pound of flesh but without any spilt blood, Portia),
  • deceit-based system managers many times recoil from women because justice is a lady with a sword and balance (Iustitia), and
  • franchising has evolved for mom-and-pop investors into a Faustian bargain (deal with the devil): you will be tricked into ransoming an unknown person’s freedom in order to get 10% of their investment back (30 coins of silver bargain in exchange for their silence: confidentiality agreements).

If this sounds like fun, you’re in luck.

Payback is an extension of the CBC Massey Lecture Series. You’re able to hear Atwood read her lecture on CBC Radio One’s program Ideas on November 10 to 14th at 9:05 pm eastern.

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