The front page of the Financial Times today carries a story about the New Zealand government agreeing to new incentives for the film industry in order to ensure that the Hobbit is filmed in the country. Reading it reminded me of an undeveloped note Professor Tolkien had left behind, lovingly fished from his waste basket by his editors after his death:
“Fastolph Proudfoot, Mayor of Hobbiton, announced today a package of economic reforms that he said would move the Shire into the Fourth Age and guarantee prosperity for years to come. Under the new laws, hobbits would be taxed for the first time and the proceeds would be used to entice Dark Enterprises, a Mordor-based company, to invest in the rolling green hills of Eriador for the first time since an attempted hostile takeover by the Witch-King of Angmar.
“We’re looking for investment certainty,” said Dark Enterprises CEO, Sauron, “and this reform package helps provide that. The Shire has several advantages to us, most especially proximity to the One Ring, err, forget I said that, I mean a skilled workforce.” Dark Enterprises, which is owned in full by the Mordor Government, has been expanding aggressively recently, and is known especially for its innovative outreach team, often referred to colloquially as The Dark Riders.
“Largo Hornblower, an economist from Bree, commented that the deal could be worth over a thousand silver pennies to the Shire economy. “When you look at the opportunities for strategic alliances, Mordor is really the only place to go. The Gondorian and Rohan economies are flat, with Denethor and Theoden embracing laissez-faire policies. Mordor is the only major economy with an expansion strategy. Admittedly, its economy is founded on the slave labor of a million orcs, but you have to admire the vision of its central planner in these troubled times.”
“Mr. Proudfoot said that he really had no choice but to increase public spending, following the advice of Marmadoc Keynes, whose wise words and sage advice have been listened to by all-comers at The Prancing Pony in Bree for over fifty years. Mr. Proudfoot refused to answer questions on the allegation that he would be paid over a hundred silver pennies annually, the first time a Mayor of Hobbiton has ever received a salary.
“White Wizard Inc. of Isengard CEO Saruman later issued a statement expressing interest in investing in The Shire if its current plans for Rohan came to naught.”