19 – Welcome to the Institution


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Female Passenger: “Hi. Nice to see you.”

Male Passenger: “Oh. Have we met before?”

Female: “No, no. Just trying to be friendly.”

Male: “Ah, I see. Well, happy to meet you too.” 

Female: “So, you’re flying to Washington, D.C?” 

Male: “Yes. Is that your final destination also?” 

Female: “No. Just visiting. I’m from much farther away.” 

Male: “I see. Anywhere I might know?” 

Female: “No, no. Definitely not. So, what kind of work do you do?” 

Male: “Oh, well I run an institution.” 

Female: “You mean like a mental institution?” 

Male: “Sort of.”

Female: “What’s wrong with your patients?” 

Male: “Well, they’re mostly delusional. They labor under the impression that they have immense powers to control one of the most complex systems on earth.”

Female: “Ah, I see. So, they’re intellectually challenged?”

Male: “Oh, no. Quite the contrary. Most of them hold PhDs. They’re an extremely intelligent group. Just a bit delusional.” 

Female: “Wow. Sounds pretty challenging. How do you treat a condition like that? Do you try to challenge their delusions? I’ve heard that can sometimes be dangerous. Gets the patients upset and all.” 

Male: “Oh, no. We don’t challenge them at all. As a matter of fact, we take them very seriously. In fact, I’m their leader. I represent them in important meetings and such.” 

Female: “Huh? Interesting. Well, I don’t know much about psychotherapy. I guess it’s safer not to challenge their delusions, huh?” 

Male: “Probably. Yet, strangely enough, many people outside of our institution believe them to be competent and sane. Fully in control of their faculties. They even believe that they really are able to flawlessly manage an incredibly unpredictable, chaotic system with multiple feedback loops and nonlinear dynamics.” 

Female: “Haha! Amazing what people will believe these days! So, what’s the name of this institution?” 

Male: “The Federal Reserve.” 

Female: “What? Oh, I’ve heard of you guys! Don’t you run the economy?” 

Male: “Well, no. Actually, the economy runs us. But we’re really good at convincing people that we’re in charge and know exactly what we’re doing.” 

Female: “And you’re the boss?” 

Male: “Yes. I’m the Chairman.” 

Female: “Wow. It’s nice to meet you! What an honor! I’m so glad I traded in my travel points for this first class seat! Haha, I have a lot of travel points.”

Male: “Why, thank you.” 

Female: “So, what happens if things fall apart, and people figure out that you guys really don’t know what you’re doing?” 

Male: “Oh, that’s easy. We blame something else. There’s always some convenient excuse. War, disease, natural disaster. And if we run out of excuses, we can always blame speculators.” 

Female: “Hey, aren’t they those evil people who secretly pull the strings to manipulate the markets for their own selfish gain?” 

Male: “Well, no. Those people are called politicians. But, the speculators are great scapegoats when the doo-doo hits the fan, so we frequently drag them out when things go haywire.”

Female: “Well, it looks like we’ve arrived! Nice meeting you! I’ll keep my eyes out for those evil speculators and hope you guys are lucky enough to keep convincing the rest of us that everything’s fine!” 

Male: “Me too!” 

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