The following is an excerpt from a letter, written by Eliot
Rosewater, President, Rosewater Foundation, and meant for his successor
in that privileged position. The letter was triple-sealed and locked in a
safe. Eliot is the novel's protagonist, and the Rosewater named in the
"When the United State of America, which
was meant to be a Utopia for all, was less than a century old, Noah
Rosewater and a few men like him demonstrated the folly of the Founding
Fathers in one respect: those sadly recent ancestors had not made it the
law of the Utopia that the wealth of each citizen should be limited.
This oversight was engendered by a weak-kneed sympathy for those who
love expensive things, and by the feeling that the continent was so vast
and valuable, and the population so thin and enterprising, that no
thief, no matter how fast he stole, could more than mildly inconvenience
"Noah and a few like perceived that the continent was
in fact finite, and that venal office-holders, legislators in
particular, could be persuaded to toss up great hunks of it for grabs,
and to toss them in such a way as to have them land where Noah and his
kind were standing.
Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens
come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the
savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and
humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful
citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living
wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who
devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against
which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up,
turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled
with gas, and bang in the noonday sun.
"E pluribus unum
is surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia
gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property,
privileges, and pleasures that have been denied the many. An even more
instructive motto, in the light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters,
might be: Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all."
we see, dear readers, that Kurt Vonnegut understood America, and that
he was warning us, decades ago, about what many of us are only now
coming to realize as our sordid fate.