No one had believed Brad.
But Brad was a man of his word.
As soon as the controlling shares were transferred to his name, Brad flew to headquarters to perform the speech he’d been preparing all his youth.
He would not continue his family’s rapacious business practices.
All directors, including Brad himself, would receive a massive pay cut.
Everyone else would get a walloping raise.
Together they were going to build the world’s greatest company.
At this point, Brad’s heroic baritone was drowned out by applause.
“I should be thanking you,” he added, and sweetly smiled.
The applause went from thunderous to explosive.
This speech, the first of many, launched a fabulous career.
Every day the employees gave 120%, and afterward, in high-end bars and restaurants, they enthusiastically spread the gospel of Brad, the Best Billionaire, the Man Who Shared.
The other billionaires slithered and hissed.
A few speculated that Brad had brain damage or a tumor that was causing him to act irrationally, but most agreed that Brad was only manipulating the public in order to enrich himself in the long term — a brilliant if selfish tactic.
Everyone forgot their suspicions, however, in Brad’s cheerful and charming presence, and even fell a little in love with him, and only recovered their rage upon, say, seeing his undeniably sexy face atop yet another article about his ascendance and their moral decay.
Then came the gradual nosedive of all red fiscal arrows.
There were some irritating embargoes, and the carbon taxes plus associated migraines, and the dramatically shrunken purchasing power of certain countries so blasted they barely even qualified as countries anymore.
Brad’s employees knew lay-offs or wage reductions were coming, and some had already prepared to forgive Brad. They knew he had no choice.
But here Brad made a historical and unprecedented decision.
As a cost-cutting measure, he would fire the directors.
From now on, most decisions would be generated from bottom-up.
And not only that:
For now, all money he earned would be immediately reinvested.
That’s right: Brad’s personal profit would be zero.
He’d have to survive on what he already had.
…The applause was mountainous.
Some people cried.
But Brad didn’t smirk or bask.
He may even have been moved.
It was later rumored that Brad’s lower lip had trembled with suppressed emotion.
Long after the Fortune 500 had been scaled back to the Fortune 50, and many financially unviable parts of the country had simply been abandoned, Brad’s company — by now a many-limbed creature with a tentacle in pretty much every clam — was still expanding as steadily as the universe.
On hiring days, the queues spiraled out for blocks, with the sorts of wait-times usually reserved for refugees at borders.
It was always a scorcher.
The applicants wore shabby clothing and had the pointy features of people on government rations.
Everyone eyed each other suspiciously.
But when Brad’s personnel trotted by with free sandwiches and bottles of water, the crowd labored and managed to produce a feeble cheer.
One man, at least, was loved.
The evening news was interrupted by a special report.
Another water riot, in another crowded city with no greenery.
Brad paused the viewer and zoomed in on the individual faces.
The withered, desperate, frightened faces.
The malnourished and despairing faces.
Brad switched off the screen and turned to the colossal window.
For a minute he gazed out on his vast lawns.
Then he wept, Brad wept for the poor.