After a long, heart-stopping moment of internal crashes and grumbles of rending machinery, there marched from the spaceship, down the ramp, an immense silver robot, a hundred feet tall.
It held up a hand.
“I come in peace”, it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, “take me to your Lizard.”
Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this…
“It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…”
“You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?”
“No”, said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
“Odd”, said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”
“I did”, said Ford. “It is.”
“So”, said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
“It honestly doesn’t occur to them”, said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
“Oh yes”, said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
“But”, said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard”, said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”” —Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, 1986
What I learned was that the diamond business wasn’t a business of extracting, as I originally expected, something of enormous value and then simply seeing how much of this object you could get out of the ground and selling it. That was what the business appeared to be when I started my venture.
But their real business was restricting what came out of the ground, restricting what was discovered, restricting what got cut, restricting what actually found its way into the retail market and, at the same time, through movies, through advertising, through Hollywood, through the manipulation of perceptions, creating the idea that there was this enormous demand for these shiny little objects that they seemed to have in abundant supply.
So I wound up on this voyage of discovery starting off with the idea that there was this object of great value, and it was just a question of how many could you get out, and I wound up discovering it was just the opposite.” —Edward Epstein - Rise and Fall of Diamonds