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Hard Times 02

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2016

Chapter One

Dreezo City -- Radamm Hotsien is looking out the window of his office on the top floor of Dreezo Center -- currently the tallest building in Dreezo, but not for long. So much has changed over the last ten years, and so much more change is coming.

Ten years ago Dreezo was a backwater provincial capital in the newly created nation of Glugistan. Even worse, it was close to becoming a ghost town. It had grown up on the shore of Moodock Lake, but now that the lake had dried up, it was now on the shore of a giant mud flat that routinely produced blinding dust storms that swept the city. Who would want to do business or live here anymore?

But the change continued, and what came next were two big and surprising changes. First came the referendum. With that, Glugistan was split in two, the nation Blabistan was created, and Dreezo became a capital city -- the capital of a nation. Wow! Second, the rare earths were discovered in that god-forsaken mud flat -- valuable and mineable rare earths. Now Dreezo and Blabistan had some meaning in international life. Double Wow! Such change!

And Radamm was sitting squarely on top of it. He had been a prominent business leader, and now he was a President.

Radamm ran the only business that mattered in Dreezo City, or Blabistan for that matter. (as far as he was concerned) He ran the slaughter houses that gathered the sheep, goats, and now some cattle, that Blabis raised in the arid plains and valleys west of the city and transformed them into meat products that could be exported. It was Blabistan's biggest industry; the only one that mattered as far as Radamm was concerned.

And he was not alone in thinking the meat business was important. That was why he had been voted president of the nation. There had been a popular vote, of course, but much more important was the vote of confidence he got from his fellow kleptocrats in this new nation.

And things were still changing. This new business, this mining business, was coming to town. How would Radamm participate in that? That was what he was thinking about as he gazed out of his office window, across Dreezo, and across the Moodock Lake mud flat.


Radamm was far from the only one thinking about this upcoming opportunity. As he was standing at the window he got a call on his communicator.

"Radamm, we need to talk about how this mining company is going to be set up." It was Lotran Mandis, another kleptocrat, and one who had supported Radamm becoming President.


"Not just you and me. This is big. We need to have both the cabinet and the legislature backing us up."

"We tell them what we want, right. ...Speaking of... What do we want?"

"That's why we need to have a big meeting. I've scheduled it. I'm sending it to your calendar."

"Will there be a pre-meeting? I'd like to know what I will be talking about."

"Of course. I'm putting that on your calendar, too.

One of the people at the pre-meeting will be Kent Clark. We've looked around and he looks like the best candidate for mining company president. He will give us his overview of what's coming up."

"Excellent!" He breathed in deeply, "This being President is getting to be lots of fun."


This is the pre-meeting. It is taking place in a lushly-appointed board room in Dreezo Center not far from Radamm's office. At the meeting are Radamm, Kent Clark, Lotran, and Jane Ngo who is representing FareBetter, an NGO that is active at helping the poor in Blabistan.

From Kent's point of view he is introducing himself to his prospective Board of Directors.

Radamm says, "Well, Mr. Clark, what is your plan?"

Kent is prepared. He has Power Point-like visuals ready as well as himself.

Kent says, "Extracting rare earths from a mud flat is not a common form of mining, but mud flat mining is itself is not unique. Most mud flat mining is done to extract lithium and other alkali metal salts. There are several equipment makers who service that industry. I propose we use modified forms of that equipment to extract the rare earths."

Jane Ngo says, "So you plan on totally mechanizing this project?"

Kent is a bit surprised at the question, "...Yes."

Jane explains, "Then Blabistan will face the 'resource nation' challenge -- lots of money will come in, but the citizens will have nothing to do with the wealth creation. The wealth will become a social curse, not a blessing. We need to find a way to get the citizens involved."

Radamm adds, "And all that equipment will be expensive, won't it?"

He further adds, "I propose we kill two birds with one stone. Let's make this mine labor-intensive, and we will hire the citizens of Blabistan to be the miners."

Kent is surprised to hear this, "You want... people... with picks and shovels, digging up mud and putting it into trucks?"

"You want me to develop the infrastructure to not only pay thousands of people, but move them back and forth from the mud flat mine sites to some kind of housing, and establish a company town, or some such, to service those miners when they are in their housing?"

Radamm says, "Yes." and he means it.

Kent says, "You realize this is going to be a lot more expensive than those 'expensive machines' you were just worrying about."

Jane says, "But it will be so much better for the people."

Kent grins a bit at this, "Enduring the mud flat will build character, eh?"

Jane doesn't see the humor, Radamm lets the briefest smile slip through.

Kent thinks a bit, and thinks a bit longer. This makes most of his presentation irrelevant. "This is quite different than what I was planning. I'll have to wing a lot of what I say in the main meeting."

Radamm and Jane both say, "That's fine. We will support you."

This meeting adjourns and they all head for the main meeting.


--The End--

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