Just a couple of friendly conversations

Your eight-year-old daughter is on her way home from school with two friends. A car pulls up next to them, a man jumps out and forces your daughter into the car. The car speeds off, leaving behind your daughter’s terrified friends.

dig up some dirt

geralt / Pixabay

Just imagine how you feel when you get the news. That evening, a note is placed under your door. It reads, “We will call you tomorrow at noon.”

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Sure enough, at exactly noon, your phone rings. The person at the other end is very friendly, even solicitous about your situation. He wants to help you.

OK, you might as well play along. Sure enough, he tells you that he intends to release your daughter very soon.

Well, there’s a load off your mind!

And then he asks if you can do him a favor. What are you thinking now? That he’ll ask for a million-dollar ransom? Or even more?

No, it’s really not much at all. He just wants you to dig up some dirt on a couple of guys you know.

That’s all! You begin to feel immediate relief. Your daughter is being returned to you unharmed. And you don’t have to pay a large ransom. It could have been a whole lot worse.

So, you and the kidnapper reach an agreement. Indeed, the kidnapper would soon tell his accomplices that he had just had a “perfect” phone call.

OK, maybe this anecdote is not perfectly analogous to the July phone conversation between the American and Ukrainian presidents, but in both instances a deal was consummated.

In the case of the kidnapping, the implicit understanding reached was that the kidnapper would release the little girl if her parents agreed to dig up some dirt on someone the kidnapper was not too fond of. Similarly, President Trump would be releasing the promised $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, and that country’s president would dig up the dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Now please ask yourself this question: Was the conversation between the kidnapper and the parent very different than that between the two presidents?

About the Author

Steve Slavin
Steve Slavin has a Ph.D. in economics from NYU, and has written twenty math and economics books, including “The Great American Economy: How Inefficiency Broke It, and What We Can Do to Fix it.” The 12th edition of his introductory economics text came out in September.