Achieving Equipoise (Dec 2011)
The ability to create gold through the use of trans-dimensional technologies, combined with the availability of levitating robots made certain things inevitable. First, the world currencies could converge on the Magical McDonald’s month, where all employees working the fry machine around the globe were making the same amount in wages after one month of work. The second inevitability was that absolute control was easy to establish and cheap to maintain. As soon as the people of Greece finally voted for the Dalotec Integration Agreement, the German bondsters were paid their fuck-off-and-die money and sent packing. Within a few days the first fishing boats violated the no-fishing part of the charter. Robots dutifully lifted them out of the water and deposited them some distance inland on the most barren stretch of rock that was the furthest from the nearest road. Within months tuna were spawning in the Aegean once again, for the first time in centuries.
Madame Dalotec had retired to her 14,000 foot aerie in the southern Alps of China, the Castle as it was called, the environs surrounded by monkeys and exotic birds in a lush forest, continuously bathed in the tropical winds washing over Vietnam and Laos. No recluse she. Her monthly concession to a media interview always seemed cordial enough, even genuinely friendly at times but it was clear she was mostly interested in not being labeled a Howard-Hughes-like weirdo. Although she was always seen seated next to a selection of tigers or one particular snow leopard, everything was calculated to give the viewer the feeling you would be perfectly comfortable having a beer with her, or more likely a glass of wine or a Starbucks coffee. You would even be perfectly comfortable with the big cats nearby. She would listen intently to the interviewer’s every word and appear to be actually interested. No matter how stupid or banal the interviewer’s question, Madame was always respectful and was deeply committed to giving the appearance at least, that she really, really did care about other’s people’s opinions of her. Often when the question was particularly stupid and banal, even insulting, she would graciously rephrase the question, in such a beautiful and lovely way, the viewer couldn’t help but sympathize and wonder, “Why didn’t the bloody interviewer think to ask it that way in the first place?” Of late, the media focus was beating to death her rail thin frame and the claims of a Breatharian lifestyle–of not eating anything solid at all and living off only sunlight, water and the odd glass of orange juice. For two full years, medical hacks had been insisting she was weeks away from a death due to starvation. Still she persisted. Her only answer to all the critics, a mischievous smile and the words, “Don’t’ knock it till you’ve tried it.”
All over the planet, countries were busy hammering together Integration Agreements —populations readying themselves for referenda. While the rich elites, soon to be disenfranchised, were busy trying to hedge their fortunes and evaluating whether or not, targeted assassination was still a viable option. Egypt had been the first to take the leap. In addition to the original Nile River, there were now three more Nile Rivers, improbably flowing south from the Med into the desert. Smaller tributaries came from the Red Sea. Massive salt water conversion projects dotted both coastlines, sending freshwater inland. Dome-shaped citadels each housing fifty thousand people sprouted up along the ubiquitous rail lines. The water mosques were an easy target for the Jihadists, but each time one was blown up it was replaced in a matter of weeks. Pegging the new currency to the Yuan virtually guaranteed that the sovereign wealth fund of China would turn the monuments of ‘old’ Egypt into a caterwauling version of an Islamic-style Las Vegas. Chinese peasants were already sleeping ten to a room in the available hotels. Everywhere the smell of ginger seemed to replacing that of curry and garlic. The trade management system ensured that all strawberries flowed to China first. Only the surplus was sold to Europe. Where now even France was considering quitting the European Union and joining Club Med (the countries of North Africa, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece). If Ireland and Iceland were welcome to join Club Med why should France balk? All foreign debts would be paid in gold (or some combination of platinum, palladium and other rare earths), banks made solvent with the same, equal trade partnership with China would follow? Too pessimistic for too long, the French dithered. Among other things, they were not willing to give up their nuclear arsenal.
The benefits of integration were obvious; no-cost levitation transport, free electricity, free water, instant cities, instant mass transit. Who would dare to question the costs? The Greeks gave up fishing. The Egyptians learned to love elephants. Fingers of wilderness insinuated themselves among the fields of wheat and rice. Grand stockades of steel and concrete arose several stories into the sky—to keep the elephants in their place, and if necessary to keep the people out. Every integration agreement included this one vital statement, “Twenty five percent of the territory dedicated to ecological preserves—the most sensitive ecologies given the highest priority”—non-negotiable. In Egypt it was difficult to believe there was a sensitive ecology anywhere except where eighty million people were already living. The Integration Plan included a Google map showing a great interior park dedicated to elephants and other transplanted species from the Serengeti , stretching west across the Sahara to the Atlantic. Dalotec fully intended that all the other countries of North Africa would eventually connect to the same park. It was impossible to take seriously, rather it was assumed that Madame Dalotec was seriously crazy, and so of the millions who voted in the referendum, fully 86% voted YES for the plan. As soon as the levitation transports began engineering the farm fields and citadels, it became apparent that humans were given the most difficult land to farm. All waste water flowed from the farms into swamps and valleys of the ‘wilderness’ area. Elephant, oryx, buffalo and cheetah were installed and managed to weather the too-frequent storms. But season after season sandstorms decimated exposed fields and the peasants who had given up an annual deluge of rich soil from within the shelter of a Nile canyon, complained bitterly that they had been cheated. The planning authority encouraged farmers to plant more date palms and build more windbreaks, then enthusiastically announced that when other countries also integrated, eventually the sandstorms would subside. Tellingly, no scientist could be found who would verify this. In any case, the farmers were now outnumbered by the large numbers of citizens leaving their rural homes for the instant city of New Cairo, the new capitol of Egypt, 200 miles to the west of Old Cairo (located btw on the banks of Nile#2). The elephants were never far way, even from the location of New Cairo, a two hour ride on a bullet train would deliver a tourist to the northern-most reach of the park. A surprising number of Americans came to the city just to ride the train and see the elephants. Difficult to say what drew them—no doubt something about a new frontier and the nature of reinventing one’s self.
The old Star Trek adage had been “Resistance is futile.” Madame Dalotec insisted that “Resistance was inevitable.” And for many years, she had encountered nothing but resistance. However, when the collapse finally came, change happened at a breathtaking pace. No one seemed ready for it…until now.