Welcome to the latest audio adventure in our popular series Tales for Our Time. This latest entry is by way of commemoration of a unique threshold crossed by the United States government in recent days: it is now the first entity in the history of the planet to owe $30 trillion - a "grim milestone" so non-grim it barely made the papers. Because once you've racked up that first $10 trillion, who keeps count?
Still, for most anybody else, racking up two tril a year in debt would be a big deal, and not just because of the interest. As I wrote in After America, there will come up a moment when the Chinese and other parties decide to yank the rug out from under the dollar. Ah, but till then we get to swank about town as if our unique and accelerating indebtedness is merely proof of how amazingly wealthy and successful we are.
That put me in mind, as I explain in my introduction, of a whimsical Mark Twain tale from 1893, The Million-Pound Bank Note. To hear the first part of our tale, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
Thank you for your kind comments about this series, and especially for those, still incoming, about The Prisoner of Windsor, my own contemporary inversion of The Prisoner of Zenda. Tales for Our Time has been running now for four-and-a-half years, and we've built up quite an archive of classic fiction, starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's cracking tale of an early conflict between jihadists and westerners in The Tragedy of the Korosko. To access them all, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club over four years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone.
That said, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including our monthly audio adventures by Dickens, Conrad, Kafka, Gogol, George Orwell, H G Wells, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson - plus the occasional piece of non-classic fiction by yours truly. You can find them all here. We're very pleased by the response to our Tales - and we even do them live on our Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming such ventures are ever again permitted, and sometimes with special guests.
I'm truly thrilled that one of the most popular of our Steyn Club extras these last four-and-a-half years has been our nightly radio serials. If you've enjoyed them and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The chance to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly, such as this afternoon's;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Booking for special members-only events, such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show, assuming we're ever again allowed to hold such a thing;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world (assuming "live appearances" become a thing once more);
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to The Million-Pound Bank Note but to all the other yarns gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, if you dislike Mark Steyn and/or Mark Twain and feel ne'er the Twain should meet the Steyn, feel free to give it your best. And do join us tomorrow for Part Two of The Million-Pound Bank Note.