Depression Hits Robinson Crusoe's Island

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Tue Sep 07 2004 - 23:08:41 EDT

Depression Hits Robinson Crusoe's Island
by Mrs. Mary Atterbury

"Friday," said Robinson Crusoe, "I'm sorry, I fear I must
lay you off."

"What do you mean, Master?"

"Why, you know there's a big surplus of last year's crop. I
don't need you to plant another this year. I've got enough
goatskin coats to last me a lifetime. My house needs no
repairs. I can gather turtle eggs myself. There's an
overproduction. When I need you I will send for you. You
needn't wait around here."

"That's all right, Master, I'll plant my own crop, build up
my own hut and gather all the eggs and nuts I want myself.
I'll get along fine."

"Where will you do this, Friday?"

"Here on this island."

"This island belongs to me, you know. I can't allow you to
do that. When you can't pay me anything I need I might as
well not own it."

"Then I'll build a canoe and fish in the ocean. You don't
own that."

"That's all right, provided you don't use any of my trees
for your canoe, or build it on my land, or use my beach for
a landing place, and do your fishing far enough away so you
don't interfere with my riparian rights."

"I never thought of that, Master. I can do without a boat,
though. I can swim over to that rock and fish there and
gather sea-gull eggs."

"No you won't, Friday. The rock is mine. I own riparian rights."

"What shall I do, Master?"

"That's your problem, Friday. You're a free man, and you
know about rugged individualism being maintained here."

"I guess I'll starve, Master. May I stay here until I do? Or
shall I swim beyond your riparian rights and drown or starve

"I've thought of something, Friday. I don't like to carry my
garbage down to the shore each day. You may stay and do
that. Then whatever is left of it, after my dog and cat have
fed, you may eat. You're in luck."

"Thank you, Master. That is true charity."

"One more thing, Friday. This island is overpopulated. Fifty
percent of the people are unemployed. We are undergoing a
severe depression, and there is no way that I can see to end
it. No one but a charlatan would say that he could. And if
any ship comes don't let them land any goods of any kind.
You must be protected against foreign labor. Conditions are
fundamentally sound, though. And prosperity is just around
the corner."

[First appeared in the Industrial Worker, Feb. 9, 1932; text
taken from Joyce L. Kornbluh, ed., _Rebel Voices: An IWW

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