There was once a land called Fullistan, where trees grew upside down and water ran uphill and nobody knew his or her own name but everyone was known by the colour of their hair or eyes or skin.
Now a crafty man came up with an idea and, as it was always the case in Fullistan, once he had this idea, however peculiar, he had to put it into practice. And, his idea was to tell everyone that there was another country over the mountains where the trees bore gold nuggets like apples and the fountains gushed wine and everyone lazed in the sun all day. He made this place sound so wonderful, that everyone wanted to spend some time there. “While you are away, you will not need your valuables, and there is a danger of thieves stealing them, but never fear, for a small fee I will look after your valuables and all your money until you return.”
Now the people of Fullistan were so eager to travel to this strange land and partake of its riches that they happily left their valuables and money with the crafty man and agreed that on their return they would pay a fee for his services in looking after their affairs while they were away and they were happy to do so because he seemed such a caring and kindly man.
Well, it happened that when they journeyed in search of this fabled land they could not find it anywhere. They wandered around from place to place and asked everyone they encountered where this land could be, but everyone laughed at their description of the place and told them they must be very foolish to believe in such a fantastical land.
Eventually, after many months, they gave up looking for the land of gold growing on trees and wine gushing out of fountains and headed home. When they arrived home they asked the crafty man for their money and valuables to be returned to them.
But the crafty man said, “You have been away for so many months that the amount you need to pay for the return of your money and valuables is – such and such – or this and that” And in each case, everyone found that it was hardly worth paying the crafty man the fee he demanded. But the crafty man was able to persuade them that the money and valuables could be theirs eventually if they paid off the fees in small amounts over a certain period of time.
But although they paid a small amount every month, they never did recover all their money and valuables because for every month that went by, the amount of the fee that the crafty man demanded increased by just enough to make it impossible for them to pay it all off.
And so it was, that in the land of Fullistan where – once upon a time – everyone had plenty, everyone became poor except the crafty man and yet, to their way of thinking, was he not a very caring man and were they not paying for his services?