The Art of the Con

It’s too easy on a sunny afternoon to entertain a bit of whimsical fallacy; It’s so lovely. How could winter ever come again…it’s just a bad dream. Of course, we know this is a delusion, but the burgeoning summer afternoon is so soft and comforting that it’s much easier to live in the dream.
It is much easier to lie there rather than bustle about stacking the winter firewood, canning, freezing, and drying the garden’s bounty.

My almost friend John, the con man, assured me that this little parable was the basis of many of his best cons. People didn’t want to face the consequences of inaction. And would gladly support the dream even when common sense said the whole thing was a con. Then he’d snicker and mention that Mark Twain had pointed out that common sense was not too common.
Eventually, he decided that politics was the ultimate con. The delusion was that politicians were elected to “do the people’s work.” First, he went to Washington as an aide to a congressman; then, he was elected to two terms. He later decided that the safe money would be working as a political consultant. He did well at it for many years before retiring.

John caught up with me over the holidays when things were slow. He mentioned that he wished that social media and Fox News had been around in his time. But he said that there was a tremendous amount of artless idiocy out there. You had to work a bit at making people believe your lies in his time. Now it was as though they’d believe any old BS. He shook his head and told me there is a particular pleasure to be taken from a well-executed con. But now all you had to do was have a bad hair job, be pugnacious, and repeat the lie often enough that people took it as truth.

There was no art in it anymore. No art. Sad.

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