“Ryan,” said Romney, “the abacus.”
The young intern stepped from the shadows carrying an instrument with a wooden frame housing several iron rods on which a series of colored beards rested. Remembering how Le Chiffre had tortured him with the bottomless chair, Bond involuntarily shuddered. How many poor devils had died racked with pain on this instrument of torment? And he couldn’t help noticing that as Ryan took the abacus into his hands, his deceptively boyish smile was transformed into a look of cold, merciless calculation. He said:
“The underlying social truth that we are exploiting in this plan was well expressed by Professor W. Kip Viscusi of Harvard Law School and Vanderbilt as follows: “At least from a societal standpoint, smokers actually save us money because they die sooner, and if you have a pension plan, they’re a bargain. It’s a morbid thought, but that’s the way it plays out.””
“Professor Viscusi is not on our payroll, unfortunately. And he said this in public. So we have to act quickly before others act on his work. Suffice it to say that the billions lost in lung cancer and other health costs are massively outweighed by the trillions saved in costs foregone on pensions and geriatric health costs. Tobacco is a fiscal life-saver. ”
Ryan, smiling again, backed into the shadows. There was thoughtful silence throughout the room. Romney resumed his stance at the podium.
“May I now be permitted to continue without constant interruptions,” he said tersely and looked around. Meeting no objections, he continued: “Our second step in resolving the Medicare and Social Security problem is the promotion of obesity. I need hardly tell the people around this table that this promotion is extremely successful.”
Bond sucked in his stomach and thanked God that the Basque actually seemed to do something for his waistline. Maybe Turnbull and Asser could run up something less frilly for him in their Jermyn Street hideout. They worked with Q from time to time, didn’t they?
But Romney was proceeding.
“Our e-coli promotion was too bold and had to be discontinued. It is essential that no one should suspect that SPECTRE is behind food epidemics. The people must seem to choose obesity voluntarily. Here I must congratulate Ryan for his ingenuity in provoking the gay community into boycotting Chick-Fil-A. He saw that this boycott would in turn provoke a mass Middle American eat-in at this chain of restaurants. He proved correct. Some credit must also be given to our double agent, Rahm Emannuel, who ratcheted up the public’s indignation by his seemingly clumsy interventions. This was an unqualified success. Obesity has rolled a large step forward.”
The room was still quiet but also rife with tension. Seemingly oblivious to the charged atmosphere, Romney went on: “Our third step is to stimulate consumption of illegal narcotics throughout the U.S. and so . For that we propose to build an impenetrable fence along all our land borders.”