There’s vast global conspiracies all the time. Remember Santa?
- The Darkness
45 Minutes Later - Mr. Popularity - Pub
“I want to be your campaign manager.” says the small woman.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Sandy.” She says. “Or, Dee.”
“You’re fucking crazy, Dee.” I say.
Dee laughs. Drinks some of her beer.
“I’ve been following you for a while. You actually have great ideas. Invest in healthcare, mental health, education, science. Tax the rich, help the poor. More foreign aid, less drone strikes. Bodycams for cops, legal weed, no minimum sentences, whistleblower and witness protection. Cut off all the fucking shady campaign money that’s ruining our democracy.” says Dee. “It’s all solid. You’re definitely gonna lose.”
I rub my face. “I know.”
“You’re completely fucking invisible.” says Dee. “To get any kind of news coverage, you have to pay the media empires their billion dollar bribe. To get the billion dollar bribe, you have to ditch your entire plan. Because, even though your plan is the best for making rich people’s lives better, it’s the worst for making them richer. Who’s gonna pay for that?”
I polish off my beer. “I know.”
“So, why the fuck are you doing it?” asks Dee.
“I dunno. Doing nothing wasn’t working.” I say. “I could lie about my plans until I get the bribe money, but I don’t think that’ll work either.”
“It won’t.” says Dee. “The bribe doesn’t compel them. If you stop playing ball, you’ll disappear again.”
“So, there I am. Tilting at windmills.” I say.
“Cool. But, fuck that. I suggest a slight change in perspective. You aren’t running against Conservatives, or Liberals. You’re running against a small subset of both groups called rich people. They’ve rigged the elections so you can’t win without millions of dollars. That means the winners are always rich people. Or, their pledges. It’s an ingenious trap that confounds or converts challengers to their rule. But, it’s not a perfect trap. I’ve found a way to circumvent it.” says Dee. “All you need to do is utterly destroy rich people. Completely and totally fucking eliminate them.”
“Okay. That’s not where I thought this conversation was going.” I say. “So, are you thinking purge style?”
“Wow. I wish.” says Dee. “That would be so much simpler. But, we’ve tried that a few times, and the money always survives the slaughter. Somebody ends up with it, and nothing changes except the paranoia level of our new wealthy overlords. No, for this to work, we need to destroy the money. Not the physical currency. But, money as a concept.”
“Interesting. Please elaborate.” I wave over more beer.
“Money has power, because it can make people do stuff. It’s a hordable form of manhours. We need to break the link between money and manpower.”
“They’re called jobs.”
“Thank you. Fuck jobs! Let’s fucking get rid of them!” she says. “The campaign slogan writes itself.”
“It’s unique.” I drink. “How do you plan to do it?”
“We make the necessities of life free. Then we don’t need to work, and rich people lose their leverage. Look.” She lays a list in front of me. “This is how we spend right now.”
I look at the list.
18% Income Tax
10% Insurance / Pension
2% Booze and Drugs
2% Gifts and Charity
4% Everything Else
“Okay, let’s start knocking this list down.” says Dee. “First, it costs a lot to have a job. Income tax, commuting cost, child care, convenience food, student loans, business casual attire. Hell, a third of what you pay for housing is just to live closer to work. All told, the average person pays 40% of their income just to keep their job.”
“That’s depressing.” I say.
“Insurance and pension are another 10% of the average family’s expenses.” says Dee. “But that’s just paying money now, so you have money later. Add that to your job expenses, and you pay 50% of your money just to have money.”
I drink sceptically. That math can’t be right. I need a pencil and a calculator.
“So, if half our money is spent to get money, arguably the other half is spent on the necessities of life. Let’s redo the list.”
She flips the list over and rewrites it.
50% Fucking Nothing
2% Booze and Drugs
2% Gifts and Charity
4% Everything Else
“Okay. Charity and gifts can be replaced by volunteering and arts and crafts. We legalize all drugs and ditch the sin taxes on booze. We need a free online college - not sure why we don’t have one already. We’ll still need casual attire. There’s plenty of free entertainment. Reddit, chess, oral sex. That’s all you need. Food can be cheap, if you need it to be. Cook more. Potlucks. McDonalds. Labmeat, if they figure it out. We could invest in public transportation. Or, self driving car-shares. Let’s do the autonomous car-shares. It’s cooler.” says Dee. “Okay, let’s redo the list.”
She flips the list. Sees the first list. Throws the list away. Writes on the table,
64% Fucking Nothing
6% Cheap Eats
0% Reddit Wack-off Checkmate
1% Get High!
0% Get Crafty!
4% Everything Else
“In a sane world, losing 64% of the economy would be enough to crash the rest of it. Sadly, we have people fighting tooth and nail to keep jobs. We can’t pussyfoot around. Kiilling 64% of the economy will just anger it. We need to annihilate all of it. At the same time. Anything less, and it will grow back weirder and more horrible.” She drinks. “Fair warning though, the rest of the plan is a little dicey.”
“We haven’t done the dicey part yet? Fuck.” I wave over more beer. The waiter is grumpy that we’re writing on the table. He's also not happy to find out he's pissing away half his wages to keep his crappy job.
“The last big ticket items are housing and healthcare.” Dee says. “Healthcare’s actually the bigger expense. We pay less for it out of pocket, but that’s where half our income taxes go. People hate paying taxes, but they’re unwilling to put granny on an ice floe. We need a third option. I suggest we cure all diseases.”
“Simple enough.” I say.
“You scoff, but we spend 10 times more money helping people die, than we do researching cures. We should spend 1000 times more researching cures. Figure it the fuck out before it gets us.” Dee says.
“So, we borrow a shitload of money to find a cancer cure, and when it’s time to pay it back, we say, fuck you money’s obsolete.” I ask.
Dee snaps. “Now you’re getting it.”
“I’m starting to appreciate your ruthlessness.” I say.
“Then you’re gonna love my housing ideas.” says Dee. “There’s a couple simple ways to reduce the cost of building a house. Mostly interior design, and land use. Over half of a modern house is wasted space. Garage and basement storage for shit we don't need. Single purpose rooms that are only used a couple hours a week. Laundry rooms, 3rd bathrooms, guest rooms, offices, hallways. These should be glommed together into multipurpose rooms that get more use. Suburbs should be rezoned to allow higher density housing. Townhomes, low-rise condos, garden homes. There’s room for everybody, if we stop being NIMBY dickheads. In theory, these steps could halve the cost of a house. In practice, the price of a house has nothing to do with the cost to build it.
“Interest rates are the key to house prices. To lower house prices we'll need raise interest rates significantly. Then people will stop struggling with their mortgages, because they'll be bankrupt. Also, the stock market will go tits up, and everybody will lose their retirement savings.”
“I'm not seeing how this will give everybody a free place to live.” I say.
“Yeah, it won't.” she shrugs. “Remember, our goal isn't to provide free housing, it's to utterly destroy the wealth of our political enemies. Wrecking the housing and stock markets will be a fine attack on them. We may need to sleep in the park for a while to pull it off.”
I had forgotten that destruction was our goal. Her goal. I'm not really with her.
“Or, we could just forgive everybody’s mortgage. Six of one.” She says.
I drink. Jesus. This chick is playing hard.
“What about the rest of the government spending?” I ask.
She drinks. Shrugs. “That’s mostly just the army.”
“Well, what about the army?” I ask.
“The army's just a way to funnel cash from the poor. The nukes and subs and spies are okay, but the rest is a waste of cash.” She drinks. “Canada won World War 3 in 1962. Sorry you had to find out like this.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I ask.
“They built a bunch of nuclear reactors in the fifties. Candu Reactors. They made a crapload of electricity, and a modest amount of weapons grade nuclear waste.” Dee says. “Then they made a bunch of small nukes - just the bomb part, not an entire missile - hopped in some WW2 era subs, and hid them off the coast of major cities. Half the human race lives in coastal cities. While the rest of the world was trying to militarize space, Canadian frogmen took the world hostage. It would be intolerable, but they don’t ask for much. Basically, no more World Wars. And ever since, our army has been a weird cash grab PR stunt.”
“I don’t believe you.” I say.
“Let’s not fight about it.” says Dee. “They’ll tell you all about it when you become President.”
“I’m not running for President.” I say.
“Well, you’ll have to.” says Dee. “There’s no way you’re winning a small town election with this platform.”
“I'm not winning any election.” I say. “With your platform, my platform, or any other platform. You’re awesome bonkers, don’t ever change. But, if I’ve learned one thing from this pointless fucking slog, it’s that everybody hates new ideas. Ain’t no bribe big enough. If you want change, you have to do it yourself. I’d be doing more good trying to build a better solar panel in my garage, than going to these fucking debates.”
“I’m not against unilateral drastic action.” says Dee. “But, it’s pretty easy to make new ideas old. It’s just repetition.”
I shake my head. I’m drunk.
Dee smiles. “I guess I need to tell you that a few more times.”
I shake my head again. “What’s the point of all this? I hate the rich as much as the next guy, but if we have to slit our throats to skin their knees, why bother?”
“Because the future is terrible. We’re trapped in prisons of decaying meat, and there is no second chance.” says Dee. “7 billion apex predators. The most dangerous superintelligence in the known universe. Yet we spend half our lives at pointless drudgery, and the other half numbing our brains to forget the inevitable. Fuck that. We can easily free ourselves from our pointless drudgery. Then we can spend half our lives wasted, and the other half carving out a better future. A future where we don’t decay, aren’t trapped, and maybe get a second chance. But that future has enemies. Some people fight change, because they’re richer than their neighbors, and can’t imagine anything better. I don’t hate the rich. They’re just in my fucking way.”
She stands. Collects her stuff. Throws some money on the table.
“Good talk. Here’s your homework. Find a way to get your message out without paying the bribe.” says Dee. “It can be your plan, my plan, any fucking plan. Just get it past the gatekeepers.”
She sways. She’s drunk. “Be good.” She’s gone.
I wave over more beer.