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Tuesday, December 24

THX 1138 Society

I can't remember the exact month in 2012 when this conversation with Michael Wright took place but I'd guess it was around July-August. At the time I was blowing off steam, saying I was going to quit the USA for good.

MICHAEL: Why don't you just stock up on guns and MREs? This way, if the worst case doesn't materialize you'll have saved yourself the hassle of relocating to another country.

PUNDITA: It's not going to happen that way, if you're visualizing a society descending into anarchy. The Department of Homeland Security is going to make sure of that. Washington, DC ain't Cairo. Metro is already preparing to install eyes in the sky on every subway car in the Washington, DC system -- and not just one per car. A local reporter asked some people on the street what they thought about putting cameras in subway cars. They thought it was a great idea. The buses will be next. We have the Black Bloc and other professional mayhem makers to thank for that. Law enforcement has gotten very efficient at containing mass violence, and they're getting more efficient by the day.

MICHAEL: I think you said at the time that the CCTVs blanketing London weren't any help in stopping the [2011] riots there. And you told me there were so many rioters the justice system was overwhelmed when they finally did catch people through the camera system. Most of them were never arrested, few of the cases the police could make went to trial.

PUNDITA: Scotland Yard was sucker punched. I'd like to see the rioters try a second time. Law enforcement is a fast learner these days because of the terrorism angle. Of course there are cities like Oakland where the mayor sees rioters as exercising their constitutional rights, but those are in a tiny minority. We might see a few hot spots, but there will never again be another Rodney King Riots in the USA, or even the widespread looting that happened in Manhattan during the second blackout there.

MICHAEL: What about the looting in New Orleans when Katrina struck?

PUNDITA: Again, law enforcement is a fast learner. The last time the city was emptied ahead of a hurricane there wasn't a replay of 2005; the mayor put the city on lockdown. Bloomberg put New York City on lockdown ahead of Superstorm Sandy. He did the same for the last hurricane that threatened the city.

We're not heading into a "Mad Max" future. We're heading to THX 1138.

Workers at Google and several other big U.S. companies are happy with benefits like health club, child care, grocery delivery, and maid and laundry service and a bunch of other perks in lieu of hefty pay raises.
Safety. Security. Convenience. The company insuring that its employees can live above their means. What more could one ask of a rule of the people?

As for the drugs aspect of THX 1138, it just hasn't been melded yet into the workforce system except in a roundabout fashion. If an employee exhibits behavior that clearly interferes with his work or with coworkers, it can be cheaper to recommend in a nice way that he see a psychologist if he wants to keep his job. The psychologist sends him to a psychiatrist, where he learns that he needs antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication or both and maybe anti-psychotic medication as well and toss in sleeping pills -- and often the psychologist step can be skipped.

As for the nasty police robots in THX 1138, that won't be necessary once Americans have graduated from the U.S. college system as it's evolving. You get 'em used to the good life young. Free health clubs, free beauty spas, free gourmet coffee -- well, not exactly free, but part of the college education that an applicant's student loan pays for.

MICHAEL: The coal mining company store, updated.

PUNDITA: Yes; someone should dust off that old song. How did it go? "I owe my soul to the company store?"

MICHAEL: It's called Sixteen Tons. It wasn't just the company store. The coal miners weren't paid in money; they were paid in chits, scrip, for everything, including housing. They couldn't save any money. The coal town stores jacked up the prices, so the miners were always in debt, borrowing against their next pay period. It was indentured servitude. I know you don't like labor unions but the unions put a stop to that.

PUNDITA: Then what happened? The pension fund. Then there was still no need to save. So transfer your revolving debt from the company store to Penny's and Sears.  This wasn't only the union funds.  The big white collar employers set up pension funds they paid for.  No need to save; you go get yourself up to your eyeballs in debt and we'll look after you in your old age. 

MICHAEL: It was a big step up from debt bondage.

PUNDITA: Really? How long did the pension system last before it crashed? A quarter century? You don't see the sleight of hand? The cage keeps getting prettier but it's still the same cage. Then Americans ask, 'What's happening to our freedom?' What do you need freedom for, if the company provides your dog with free pedicures?

MICHAEL: Man, someone had too much prune juice for breakfast.


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