Friday, May 16, 2014


It was slowly getting darker outside, and Bjorn's reflection in the window was starting to bother him, so he got up of his chair and pulled the curtains shut for the night. Then, once he was seated again, he clicked his way back to the complaint made against Pedro.

From reading the complaint, it was clear that the journalist over at the Gazette had pick much of her material directly from the Blacklist. But there was also no doubt that the journalist had in fact been talking to both the stall owners and Pedro to get the full story. The complaint was relatively short and to the point, basically claiming that Pedro had no right to the village square, that the village square belonged to the people of Lundby, and that no one had the right to impose any kind of tax or restriction on the stall owners.

Pedro on his side begged to differ, of course, pointing to his claim to all the pubic areas of Lundby, including the village square. Directly below Pedro's comment, Jan had a short comment directed at both the stall owners and Pedro, suggesting they sort out their differences in his office in the casino. And directly under Jan's comment, there was a third and final comment written by the same Maria that had made a comment on Jan and Pedro's complaint against Ane.

Maria's comment was directed directly at the stall owners, basically saying that their complaint was confused and muddled, and lacking in precision, her main objection being that the village square could not possibly belongs to "the people" since no such entity exists. Then she went on to say that she would not touch the case before the stall owners sort out among themselves what exactly they were asking for.

And quite understandably, Maria's comment had a long tail of sub-comments, all from the plaintiffs, basically saying that she was the one confused, and that a further specification of who "the people" were was in any case besides the point. The stall owners had no intention of paying any kind of rent or tribute to Pedro, and would resist any attempt to force them into doing so.

"So, who is this Maria," Bjorn wondered. "Clearly some sort of self styled lawyer, judging from her pretentious remark about not wanting to touch the case." And with this in mind Bjorn clicked on her name in order to find out more which brought up the fact sheet on her, showing that she was not involved in any disputes at the moment. Bjorn clicked on Maria's name again to go to her personal details page which turned out to be surprisingly elaborate, with a picture of her face, a list of achievements and a whole lot of data on her career and education.

Maria was indeed a self styled lawyer of sorts, running a company called Independent Law. Maria offered what she called "arbitration services", claiming extensive experience with "private law", and her comments on the Blacklist were clearly all part of a marketing strategy from her side. By offering a quick initial analysis of the various disputes in the village, she was showing off her legal skills with a hope to attract paying customers for her arbitration services.

Bjorn looked at the picture of the woman with her thick black hair and almost child like appearance. She looked friendly and approachable, in contrast to her remarks on the Blacklist which had been pointy and almost aggressive in their criticism of the complaints. Then, looking over to the right hand margin of the page, Bjorn's attention was drawn to an ad that had stayed with him throughout his browsing of the Blacklist, but not caught his attention before now. It displayed a stylized icon of St. George slaying the dragon, under which it read Lance Security in gold letters, followed by a sub-title with the text: "To Serve and Protect".

"But isn't that Pedro's company?" Bjorn wondered, surprised to see an ad by Pedro on a web site containing a scathing denouncement of him. "Why is Pedro sponsoring a web site full of bickering and conflict mongering?"

Bjorn clicked on the ad to learn more about Pedro's business, which he now suspected to be involved in something different from what he had first assumed. Reading about Pedro as the CEO of Lance, Bjorn had simply assumed that Lance was a company involved in the prison and detention camp industry, which was one of the few businesses currently doing well, with economic crisis and political unrest spreading like wildfire everywhere. But it made no sense for such a company to have an ad on the Blacklist, so Bjorn was now very much doubting his first assumption. And as it turned out, Lance was not a private prison company, or any such thing.

Lance Security was an insurance company offering what it called "disaster insurance", defined as "high cost, low probability events", with "criminal loss" being its core business, and accident and health insurance being offered as add-ons. The idea was that a person could start off by insuring him or herself against criminal loss, and then add on insurance for loss of property and health as needed. The basic product would pay out up to a thousand Gram in the event of loss of life, health or property due to a criminal event. And this basic insurance cost a "mere" half a Gram per year.

The basic product could be scaled up, from a maximum of a thousand Gram to as much as ten thousand Gram, by agreeing to pay correspondingly more in premiums. Adding accident and health to the basic product increased the cost in a similar manner. The insured person could in other words not buy anything cheaper than the basic product, so Lance's target customers were clearly people for whom a disaster would result in losses up to or beyond a full Kilogram of gold. And the website confirmed this by stating specifically that losses below ten Gram would not be compensated. However, all criminal losses should be reported regardless, it said, since a group action against a criminal element may nevertheless result in a pay out, even for minor losses.

Bjorn leant back in his office chair, contemplating what he had just read, and feeling content that he had finally found something concrete about Pedro's business in Lundby. Not only was Pedro claiming ownership of all public property in the village, he was aiming to make money off of people's fears as well.

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