«As you all know, by the mid-21st century, all national currencies had been merged into a worldwide megadollar called the Inter. Having a multi-national trading currency proved to be invaluable for the wealthy and a little harder on the rest, as always.
The international conglomerate called InterNet controlled the financial markets and oversaw the global Inter money production. The process itself was delegated to the individual countries which retained the right to mark their national Inter with a small flag. But along with that privilege came a hefty price for the nations: they were attributed a quota by InterNet, defined by the country’s net assets, or rather its relative lack of debt combined with the value of remaining natural resources. That quota was then adjusted into a value hidden in the country’s Inter number, so that rich countries would stay richer.
The remaining paper notes were equipped with a bar code. Money could now be scanned just like a product, and at the end of the line, the InterNet giant kept track of every single transaction made worldwide. Soon, however, the notes all but disappeared, replaced by the more convenient and versatile chip cards. People stopped carrying change and eventually forgot to complain about the automatic transaction fee associated with each card purchase.
Then chips were implanted under a person’s skin by the right wrist, so that they wouldn’t have to reach out for a wallet wherever they had to pay: stores, transit stations, protected pedestrian crossings, safe air dispensers, personalized public advertisement, automatic traffic infractions tickets, random charity street machines, public wall-mounted difibrillators, mandatory use garbage cans, etc. And since everything was now taking place in the background, most people stopped paying – pardon the pun – attention to the very act of payment. It was an unavoidable fact of life, but one did not have to focus on it. Skipping the simple thought of it made life easier.
Personal debt levels increased exponentially, sky-rocketing to stunning heights. The banks and credit companies, having all merged with InterNet, reacted accordingly and increased the fees for having debt. It became more expensive to be poor. Nobody cared.
Debt had become as normal as, say, having to fill up the car with gas had once been; a drag, but since you can’t live without it, you just don’t think about it. A country’s own Inter fluctuated according to the sum of its citizen debt added to the national one. By then autodebit charges were the norm and a human being was born with the cumulative debt of the 5 to 10 generations before him. New borns were given legal rights and obligations, and were automatically assumed to have agreed to that debt by the fact of their birth. Nobody commited suicide because of that, though; the figures were so staggering that they could no longer be grasped. The average individual owed by the time he was 25 years old about 3 times the amount owed by Canada in 2000.
The rest is history. Eventually, the InterNet got too greedy and the snake bit its own tail. The system collapsed. The corporations forming InterNet evaporated with most of their assets, which were no longer worth anything – but it’s hard to let go. Our planet went into an unprecedented crisis we have since then called the "InterLapse".
My dear friends. They have referred to us as Gods, but we do not accept that title. We prefer to be "Evolved Beings".
They have hailed us as Saviours of Mankind. Maybe. We indeed picked up the planet at its darkest time and brought it back to glory.
We have turned chaos into order, restored society without the need for money as a skeleton, but rather with a system based on community sharing. We’ve evened the odds for the poorest people and made sure no one – individual or organization – could achieve control or power without our approval.
They’ve asked us for leadership and we have responded. They’ve asked us to decide for them and we have aggreed to. They’ve asked us to make all the major decisions and we do.
Now has come the time for us, the Alpha-Gamma Society of Evolved Beings, to finally be rewarded by more than mere praise. The system is stable, people are happy and grateful. But…
My friends, make no mistake about it. We are at a dead end. Our efforts have lifted society from the nightmare of InterLapse to a new level of harmony. But while this success is to be commanded, it is of temporary nature because mankind has never been known for its ability to thrive in balance and simplicity. Our race has evolved only out of defense mechanisms against itself. Along with the need to better understand each other always lurks the desire to better control each other. Control is power. And power is itself.
The problem on our hands is that people today tend to be naturally happy. Happiness ultimately makes the crowds harder to control. Fearful, worried people respond better to conditioning. They can be influenced and manipulated for their own good. In a word, fear equals control.
I hereby propose the implementation of a gradual happiness reduction in the population. In order to achieve it, I would like the Assembly to consider reintroducing a currency-like form of retribution. I recommend a plastic currency form. We’ll use beads of different
colors. A white one will be worth two yellow, which will each be worth
two orange. They’ll snap into one another to form necklaces and wristbands. The beads will float, they will be nearly indestructible and
cheap to produce.
With them will appear a need, and with the need, a pressure point for us to gain leverage on the masses. Once the individuals are needy, they will turn to us to fulfill their needs. We will be able to reward the worthy and penalize the others. Some discontentment will probably arise from the poorer spheres, it always does. But we can then use a carefully crafted plot simulating an outside threat to the system to rally dissidents to our cause. It’s been done before, and quite successfully, I might add.
I will personally make sure that you all receive a fair number of those beads because after all, we must test them and make sure they float before making them widely available.
Now maybe we could even resurrect some of our past 21st century technologies to experiment with the down-to-Earth convenient objects that our now immaterial society lacks so dearely.
I must say, my dear friends, that I have myself grown quite tired of holographic and mental projection techniques; I wouldn’t mind – pardon the pun again – giving my mind a break watching the next news coverage of this Assembly on a real external plasma screen, using real buttons on a physical remote control rather than my neurons to change the commercials. How much easier it would be.
And how about some "popcorn"? To be honest I’m not sure what exactly popcorn was used for, back then, but it was important enough for them to name a song after it. I think you’re supposed to dip it in butter, eat it and then extract it from between your teeth. How much fun. Yes, I know, we no longer have teeth, nor butter for that matter. But we will have power. And power will allow us to bring back popcorn. All in favour, raise your neurons.»
[Alpha-Gamma Society of Evolved Beings General Assembly
Equatorial Space Station Gemini-IX, solar year 2180]