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A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

2012 is almost over. We’re supposedly going to dive off the so-called fiscal cliff. There is a discussion about taking away certain guns and more gun control. The America we know, or think we know, is slipping away from us.

Before the ball drops and the bungee cordless cliff diving begins, I wanted to share a few factual tidbits combined with my overactive imagination. I am a writer, after all. Let me set the scene:

The year is 20NE (2075CE). The cities in what remains of the U.S. have been razed. Eco-friendly Pod Cities have been built in their place. A 17 year-old boy and his 14 year-old sister, Xavier and Nickie, escape from Pod City one-five, finding a settlement of people that should not exist.

From Chapter 14 of my dystopian novel, Tricentennial:
I wanted to sink in my chair wallowing in hopelessness until Nickie asked, “How did all this happen? I mean, why are we out here, all alone, without the comforts that the people in the Pod Cities enjoy?”
“That’s a long, convoluted story,” said Exie, leaning back in her chair.
“Please, Miss Exie,” Nickie pleaded.
Taking a deep breath, Exie began, “Okay. But, I’m only going to give you a broad history. Everything that led to this moment could fill volumes. You have to realize that there is no one culprit. The blame can be spread in multiple directions. To give you a better background, I’m going to start in the early 1900s. In 1913, the Federal Reserve Bank was created and the United States implemented a federal income tax. Money began to be regulated under central control. Then, in 1929, the stock market crashed which caused the Great Depression. The country remained in the Depression until we entered World War II in 1941.”
“What does this have to do with now?” asked Jett. “That was so long ago.”
“Because our decline was a slow one, not unlike the fall of the Roman Empire,” Exie answered. “When the war ended in 1945, we paid to rebuild war-torn Europe and forgave debts owed to us. Then, we entered the Cold War – technically, a nuclear weapons building race, which lasted until 1991.
“Wars aside, over the years the government cozied up next to lobbyists who represented big corporate interests, as well as many other organizations and private people. Laws were passed and money was spent on things that were not in the public’s interest. Even when the public ardently disagreed, power-hungry politicians, who were supposed to represent the people, decided that they knew better than their constituents and passed laws that hurt the people. With the advent of globalization, companies, organizations and some wealthy individuals spent more and more money buying politicians. These politicians, in turn, made things easier for those people in spite of everyone else.
“While all of this was happening, labor unions stopped representing their members. For decades, they bullied not only the workers, but also the companies for whom they worked. Through all of their demands, they gouged their employers, both private and public. Labor unions morphed from a protecting institution to political shills – doing the bidding of their favored elected official.
“The Federal Reserve removed the dollar from being the gold standard in 1971. Not having our dollar backed by gold caused massive inflation. As the prices of everything rose, the Federal Reserve did nothing to stop inflation although they claimed to be doing so. Over the years, the dollar lost its value against other currencies. Countries with no currency of their own used to use the U. S. dollar. Eventually, they stopped using it, causing the dollar to devalue further.
“Concurrently, a progressive political movement, under the guise of being for the people, bullied its way across the country. It called for things like social justice, economic equality, and everyone giving his or her fair share. Legislation widened the scope of federal education standards, environmental protection assurances, welfare programs, federal housing and education loans, and instituted national health insurance mandates.”
“How were those bad things?” Jett asked.
“In the abstract, those things sound like good ideas,” Exie explained. “But, when implemented, they stripped people’s individual liberties and erased the sense of personal responsibility. In education, for example, laws were made to favor teachers’ unions instead of the students. On every level, education became more about indoctrination than learning. Students were punished for having an idea different than what they had to regurgitate. Parents slowly lost control over their own children’s education. The government was setting course to control every aspect of people’s lives. They, directly or indirectly, controlled what the people bought, how they traveled, what they ate, what they watched, what they read, and how much money they made. And, all these government-expanding programs cost money – more money than the country could sustain.”
“How, how did people allow this to happen?” Nickie asked quietly.
Exie sighed. “Not having to think for oneself is easier. Many believed that they were entitled to everything for nothing. They accepted the partial picture that they were given. Questioning was discouraged. A lowest common denominator society was encouraged. Once enough people followed like mindless sheep, trying to make them see and think for themselves became virtually impossible. From an increasingly expanding government to large heartless private organizations, they all took advantage of the seemingly ignorant and apathetic public.
“Our traditions, values, morals, and ethics eroded until there was nothing left. Some people tried to preserve. The media created, yet, government controlled, culture would not allow it. Preservationists went to ground. The people began to protest. They protested the superfluous spending, the excessive wars, the intrusive projects, and the idea that someone else made decisions for them.
“The government paid no attention to them. The media demonized the protestors, calling them crude names and tried to silence them with horrific labels. When the movement began changing elections, voter fraud reached new heights. Not only did the dead vote, but so did non-citizens, mostly illegal immigrants, and fictitious people. They did everything to keep their power.
“Everything also included a new round of protests. These protesters were a different breed. Some had valid grievances, but the protests were coerced by seemingly invisible hands. Centrally controlled and well organized, they invaded every major city in all fifty states, when we still had fifty states. Although the protests suffered from infighting and disease, they used it to their advantage. Riots erupted in every protest city.
“When the violence escalated, city police forces could no longer control them. Armed citizens began defending their shops, homes and families. At first, mayors and governors called in their state’s National Guard. Then, the President of the time intervened. He implemented martial law across the country.”
“What is martial law?” Nickie asked.
“That is when the armed forces come in as the police force,” Exie explained. “The armed forces are controlled by the President as Commander-in-Chief. Local authorities no longer had any say. The federal government became the central source of power in the country.
“The rioting subsided. Martial law, however, did not vanish. The federal government set up security checkpoints. Every person, regardless of age, was issued an electronic national ID card.”
“Wouldn’t have needed them, if the states were allowed to require everyone to carry a photo ID,” interrupted Douglas. “State-issued IDs were the way to go. They already issued driver’s licenses. But, no. Those who wanted a state-issued photo ID requirement to vote were being called discriminatory, ‘racist’ and other crap. Of course, how could voter fraud have happened as easily if people needed to show ID?” Douglas shook his head in disgust. “The federal government should never have had their grimy little hands in many things.”
Exie continued, “The cards, embedded with global positioning tracking, had to be shown everywhere and carried at all times. Those who did not comply were jailed. Street lights and drones monitored everyone. They watched every movement and listened to every conversation, even from behind closed doors and inside private homes. Privacy was a thing of the past.
“Of course, all that monitoring was expensive. Tax rates soared. Those who could afford it, abandoned the country. Before the Global was adopted as the new world currency in 2018, China began to cash in their U.S. bonds. To pay on the bonds, the government resorted to selling its territories. They sold the Pacific islands to Japan and Indonesia. Great Britain bought the Virgin Islands, while Cuba acquired Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the monies from those sales were not enough to pay back China.”
“Why did the government owe money to China?” asked Jett.
“Because of decades of spending more money faster than they could ‘earn’ it, the U.S. ran out of money. With a deficit in the double digit trillions of dollars, they looked to foreign governments as loan sources. China was our biggest foreign lender. And, they happened to be growing their own economy as well as military might,” Exie said. “A society full of entitlement programs costs money. Those government programs chose to whom they gave entitlements. Some genuinely needed them, many did not. Entitlements were given as favors and some where taught how to milk the system to get more and more of the seemingly infinite supply of money as they raised the debt ceilings higher and higher. Plus, they gave what they considered aid to a multitude of foreign countries.
“Eventually, China demanded Hawaii in lieu of cash payment. By 2020, one state down, the United States had officially defaulted. Debtors were knocking on the proverbial door. The countries to whom money was owed, wanted to carve up the country for themselves. With Quebec buying the northeastern states, all but China had been staved.
“In 2021, Texas seceded. Completely broke, the government could not stop them. Shaking off all the oppressive regulations of the previous decades, the Republic of Texas flourished. People began to flock into Texas in search of jobs, prosperity and a new found liberty. It re-ignited the people’s desire to revolt against the oppressive collusion of government and what industry was left.
“To quell the revolt, the military was sent to the border with Texas. When people and goods could no longer flow freely over the border, the revolt quickly ran out of money and supplies. So, however, did the government.
“The Global made everything much more expensive then even the withering dollar did. The U.S. still could not pay back China’s loans and the compounding interest. China wanted the debt clear. When debt forgiveness negotiations failed with the Chinese, Alaska seceded to save themselves from being handed over to China.
“Canada closed the border in 2024 months before China took the western United States to the Rocky Mountains. Afterwards, China deemed the debt settled.
“The new, smaller Unites States acted like nothing ever happened. They reverted to their favorite tactic – environmental blackmail. New taxes were levied while new laws were enacted.”
“Why, though?” Nickie asked.
“Control,” Mazie answered.
Exie nodded. “It is easier to control the people when they feel guilty for their actions.”
“I still don’t understand,” said Nickie. She looked from Mazie to Exie. “Why control people? Why couldn’t they just leave people alone?”
Smiling at Nickie, Exie explained, “To a truly independent spirit like yours, you will never be able to understand the lust for power and control.”
As Nickie processed, Exie continued, “Their environmental blackmail came to a head when an extremely active hurricane season devastated Florida. With the economy in shambles, neither private nor public could afford to rebuild. The entire Floridian peninsula had been abandoned within five years.
“The government told people that we could not stay dependent on non-renewable energy sources. Solar and wind farms had already been in use, but with the coaxing of the government, they drove the last of the coal, natural gas and petroleum providers out of business.
“Every single item that was sold, was electrical in one way or another. Outside the cities, people held on to their old non-electrical equipment. The increase in electrical output caused a strain on the power grids. Rolling brown and black outs became commonplace. Due to a lack of fuel, people found it hard to survive winter. Hot summers and localized pandemics killed even more people.
“Thousands died each year from lack of energy or food or medicine. Many of the sick were turned away for treatment because their lives weren’t deemed important. The Redux Radix movement started and caught on like wildfire.
“Uprisings began as waves. Legislation censored all internet content. Groups over ten were cut down by the riot police. Soon, we were fighting a full-fledged civil war. The government, however, fought dirty. Many in the military deserted to help fight with their families. They bombed our homes and businesses using drones. We hacked into their system.”
“That’s how we discovered how many people had been detained at Guantanamo Bay over the decades,” Douglas added.
“What do you mean?” asked Nickie.
“Before it was abandoned in 2054, Guantanamo Bay was a naval base on the island of Cuba. Originally, it was used as a fueling station. In 2002, it became a detention center for foreign terrorists with whom the government could do nothing else. A decade later, Americans were allowed to be detained there. Whoever the Department of Homeland Security deemed to be a ‘home-grown terrorist’ was sent to rot there without due process. The Government continued to broaden their definition of terrorist,” explained Douglas with disdain in his dark eyes. “In the decades that followed, many people disappeared from their daily lives never to be found. The number of detainees at Gitmo, as it was called, was never disclosed. We only found out after the deep security hack of 2052.”
“If only the people had kept their elected officials in check. Made them represent the people who elected them instead of allowing them to be so self-serving. Maybe, just maybe, none of this would have happened,” said Mazie.
“Constitution preservation should have been the most important issue,” Exie agreed. “Those who wanted to preserve what the original document upheld, were silenced. The masses were told that the Constitution was too old and irrelevant. That was the furthest thing from the truth.”
“A youth-obsessed culture disregards anything old,” Mazie added.
Exie nodded. “Liberty should always be preserved. To do that, a free society needs constraints on their government – keeping their power and scope limited. That is the essence of the original U.S. Constitution.”
We sat silent. Nickie and I had never heard of such things. Even Jett did not seem to know all the details.
Breaking the silence, Exie continued, “For a while, we were winning the fight. Then came the electromagnetic pulses. Luckily, we had been learning how to survive without electricity. We did not give up. Their final act was to use biological warfare against us.
“The dead were not counted. Whoever they did not ‘save’ were left to fend for themselves. And we have. We have survived on determination, ingenuity and scrounging.”
Listening to Exie’s story, I was shocked, but not surprised. I knew the fabrication they taught us in school. I also knew how the Pod Cities operated.

***

The future may look dim from here, but I believe we can change our path. This country and its future are ours to guide. We can get to a place where our liberties still have meaning. We can be free to pursue our dreams without constraints. Xavier says it best, “I stood in the grass not knowing what the future held, but I knew it was mine.”

Happy New Year! Let 2013 bring prosperity, good health and the light to guide us there.


Tricentennial can be found at AmazonBarnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

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