Redistribution was to begin at the end of the week, but because Collection Teams were facing fiercer opposition than expected, Compliance Squads formed to persuade the more resistant citizens. New pick-up station notices are expected on Monday, ironically the same day I am to report for my new job, redistributing possessions and professions simultaneously.
Voluntary surrender had gone smoothly enough, until the inescapable audits showed some citizens were withholding assets that had been ruled property of the state. A small number of former captains of industry had taken to barricading themselves and sometimes reluctant family members in their McMansions, defying the new laws, and newly enhanced law enforcement agents.
Remembering the Occupy Wall Street protests from my youth, the realization that corporate inequality was in it’s death throes, was like living in a play. I still wasn’t convinced there would be a true equilibrium, an actual leveling of the playing field.
Those who are the “haves” will still find a way to maintain certain assets, while the ‘have-nots” remain on the lower end of the spectrum, with something else as an identifying factor. If it isn’t money or possessions, then it will be education or health. Even those intangibles will be eradicated in two or three generations, at most. Then what? Blond hair, blue eyes, or brown skin, and green eyes. What becomes the deciding factor for who is considered an alpha dog? There will always be a caste system, it will just evolved into something more sinister than money. Prestige always finds a way to surface, and separate people into different ranks.
The individual no longer exists. The best and brightest are allowed to stagnate while mediocre becomes the standard. There is no hierarchy of intellectual superiority, no incentive to excel when there is no recognition or recompense for a job well done. Good enough is now the corporate mantra.
Computers are virtually useless now that the Internet is so severely regulated, as are all but one television, one telephone, and one automobile. Bicycles are being issued as part of the redistribution efforts, that and rationing of gasoline. I was allowed to keep any jewelry I could prove was an heirloom, giving over everything else to our new government repository.
I used the community garden to hide the excess dirt I excavated from my basement, digging an underground bunker to hide my treasures. I made a great show of turning over assets on the government’s mandatory confiscation checklist, trying to remove any scrutiny over what I was in fact not relinquishing. If the Compliance Master discovered my forbidden cache, I could face public reprimand, or worse – imprisonment.
I flirted with possible deadly repercussions because of my loathing to turn over my extensive library of books. I wasn’t hoarding money or other materialistic possessions. Arguably, I had scant few of those. I was sheltering intellectual treasures, creating a sort of time capsule of free thought. I had given up a handful of books on the banned list, enough I hoped to ward off any further investigations.
Making a very public show of my willingness to give over my beloved books to the betterment of the community, I could always borrow the ones I wanted to re-read, just like any other good citizen I would say.
Before The Collapse, I would have been nervous beginning a new position, especially one where I knew I was under-qualified to fill. It didn’t matter now. I was part of the first wave of re-employment. Placing previously non-working citizens into jobs based solely on availability and not actual skills.
The company I will be working with restructured its leadership format, creating management teams instead of having a chain of command. Salaries were recalculated, putting everyone on the same pay scale. The implied threat was opponents to the new corporate structure would find themselves in retraining camps.
Since competition was eliminated between various manufacturers and service providers, the government propaganda was for us to expect miraculous advances in medicine and technology. Every manufacturer would cooperate to create the best products, research hospitals would pool resources to provide the best care possible. Personal gain would no longer be an incentive, serving the greater good would be.
Yet, enrollment into college programs for desperately needed specialties has already fallen to decade low numbers despite promises to reward participants with desirable perks. The mindset for wanting more money, more expensive status symbols hasn’t changed, that will take time. Until then, the reality is science and industry will slow to a frustrating pace.
The next phase, placement – if participants didn’t step up on their own – will become a role of the government. There is no choice. Aptitude tests are being created for such an inevitability. The selfish desire to accumulate wealth must be replaced by self-preservation and a dictate to fulfill mandated employment requirements.
We are told that redistribution will be the cure for all ills – poverty, crime, homelessness, unemployment. There will be no want unmet, no need unfulfilled.
I have my doubts. The Compliance Squads and Collection Teams seem to enjoy their jobs too much. I have to wonder if they won’t find some way to keep those positions of authority, even once everyone else has been made compliant. Power is the new currency and not easily relinquished. What was that old saying?
“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Fran challenged me with: “What would happen if corporate competitiveness were eliminated, and individual/commercial performance (equalized by a benevolent benefactor) no longer influence personal gain.”
I challenged Niqui with: “Where did you get all that blond hair and green eyes.”
*photo credits: Library of Congress, public domain