The system is crumbling, bifurcating. Money is becoming irrelevant for those with it, and unobtainable for those without. Negative interest rates are the only clue we need to be certain the wheels have come of this jalopy. Of course, normal people don’t get to borrow at negative rates, that’s only for Ultra High Networth Individuals and Corporations.
The 0.1% (aka the plutocrats, oligarchs, kleptocrats — I wish I could find a word that I like) have eaten most of the pies and are in the process of snaffling down the rest.
The rich have clearly been very bad boys and girls, just look at the charts that show where all the productivity delivered by Manufacturing Automation, Supply Chain Optimization, Fin-Tech, Digital Transformation, etc, has gone:
Productivity has doubled, while wages stayed the same.
…where did all the money go?
Oh, there it is. The rich took it all!
When I started writing my Singularity’s Children books, the world had just experienced a major ‘correction‘. The #occupy movement and the whole 1% outrage was catching fire and there was a genuine sense that with recognition of the greed that had caused the economic train-wreck, a new fairer order might rise…
Instead, the fat-lady was propped up, pumped full of amphetamines, and persuaded to sing again; one more time.
So here we are. A decade later and the world is burning:
The top image is a fictitious weather report imagining what the weather would be like in 2050 for a 2014 French TV documentary about climate change. The bottom image is the real weather report from last week.
Somehow, we forgot that the Klepts (how about that?) ate our future, and are still busy eating the futures of our grandchildren. We became distracted with a billion memes and outraged by a million unwitting infractions against a constantly shifting baseline of fraught-to-navigate social norms.
The Klepts know it though. They use their newspapers and TV channels to distract us, but they can’t hide the side effects of their gluttony—
—the cheesy crumbs are ground into the carpet; drifts of pie and pasty packaging are building in the corners of their bedrooms. They can hear mummy’s feet on the stairs, she is coming to take the pies away. They hug their disposable convenience-store plastic bags full of junk food, and stuff their faces faster, they know it’s over and soon they will be eating rat, like everybody else.
This system is well and truly broken. We need a new one.
But we must remember that the Klepts will fight tooth and nail to discredit any promising new ideas. (This tension is the backstory and main arc of my Singularity’s Children books.)
But why should they fight? Surely getting an early start on cleaning up all the pie-scented effluent gumming up the works will make a better world for all of us—including them. Why should they resist?
Because a preemptive managed upgrade to the system won’t help them. Even if things stay civil and they don’t all get guillotined into minced-meat to make Soylent Green, they are probably right in suspecting that the massive wealth disparity they currently enjoy will not survive a reboot. Why should they voluntarily curtail the short amount of gluttony time they have left before a hard unscheduled reboot of society robs them of their wealth and status anyway?
We need to understand that we want different things, us and them. We have different incentives. Most of us will be willing to sacrifice a little to avert a global cataclysm, but they will be asked to give up a LOT.
One thing we do have in common with the Klepts, is that, like us, most of them are not saints, and because only a saint is strong enough to act against their own interests, the leaders of our Kleptocracy will never voluntarily make the tough decisions necessary to save us all.
We are not in the same boat. They have so much more to lose. They won’t be able to put down that delicious slice of poor-person-pie. So we will need to slap it out of their hands, or soon their weakness and greed will have us all diving for bloated carion through the flooded sewers of London and Mumbai…
Rat-tartare might sound grim to you, but to the Klepts, so does the prospect of microwaved Asda vegetable pie.