Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fictional future history: Reclaiming Mobile Alabama, 2077

Today, I have a meeting with Ron Moore. Great grand son of the last President of the 50 United States. It's very unusual to have face to face meetings these days, but he insisted. I think I know that he is pushing for Canadian funding of a sea wall to be built along the Alabama coast, and he also implied that he has an engineering company that would profit from the wall. I am not racist but, crooked Alabaman scum will never integrate into Canadian values. The Moore family is (or was... I don't know them) the most crooked of the bunch, and I'm pretty sure he will propose something unethical or illegal... only explanation for face to face meeting. Still, I just agreed to this meeting...

“Dad?” My 2nd ranked (of 7 – all 8 years old) gataca'd daughter is having breakfast with me in my pod. Her name is Cindy. My wife and other kids (we also have six 4 year old boys) are elsewhere in our pretty large apartment complex.

“I will take the last 2 generobots to power my bike trip to the Moore meeting.” I tell Cindy (not that she asked). We just got our 4th and 5th generobots. Top of the line latest generation. New designer and builder, upgraded OS but still compatible with older generobots, with same high level app-style task programming. We were doing just fine with 3, but these do just about everything faster, and can lift with much more power than older models. Its a bit of an extravagance, but I will build everything kids want with them, implement some manufacturing ideas, and we're always looking to rearrange our living quarters for social needs. I am staring at an older generobot that is transforming my pod from sleeping mode to work and meeting mode, as I say this.

“Dad? Why did the United States dissolve?”, Cindy asks me, as I am lost in thoughts with generobot applications and Crooked Alabaman meetings.

“Three main reasons, sweetie.” connecting with my child, I launched into the background/root causes:

  1. Governance for the last 10000 years was always focused on kings and rulers inflicting slavery on its people for the benefit of the ruler-ship clique. High national debt loads were sustainable as long as they appeared sustainable.
  2. When Canada adopted Universal Basic Income, Direct Delegated Governance, and Cash Flow Taxation, it created massive economic demand in Canada, a super efficient government, and massive production and employment opportunities. Many Americans emigrated to Canada including my grand-dad when he was 20, back in early 2030s...

“Dad?, why doesn't slavery create more production? If you can force people to work more, shouldn't more get done?” -Cindy interjected

Me: “That's a good question, that fooled society for too long. Slaves are awesome for the rulers. For a long time, rulers needed them to protect their interests, form the military enforcement of their potential interests, and tough it seemed like the obvious way to keep the ruler-ship clique as rich as possible if those doing the work are paid as little as possible, this is actually not so.”

Cindy: “Is this that Structured Domination Theory?”

Cindy's education curriculum includes advanced logical fallacies. Usually it's recommended for kids aged 12 or so, and as a society, we feel that we must teach all corruption and lying techniques to everyone in order to protect ourselves from the evils of our past. I most certainly could not learn these things when I was 8, though I also enjoyed a self-directed curriculum. One of the main benefits of gataca-ing our children is that we mainly screen for intelligence, with of course health and energy being very important too. Cindy had the 2nd best predicted intelligence (of our 8 year old daughters) from our genetically screened thousands of fertilized embryos, and though Sarah (our 1st) is very smart, she's just not as inquisitive and passionate about learning. I'm the only one who knows who the real biological mother of our sons is (Cindy is the mother of 4 of them). All of my daughters and wife had eggs that were fertilized and they all know that they could be each of the boys mother, grandmother or sister, but they don't know the exact biological role. Because of boys naturally higher genetic potential (by gataca process), they all had some of the record highest potentials when they were born 4 years ago, though millions of younger babies have exceeded that level already. They are all even noticeably brighter than Cindy. I think this is the right number of kids, and would do the same if I had to do it again. The incubation/screening costs are about the same whether we had 1 or 10 babies at a time, and our life effort for taking care of 7 babies for one year is much lower than 1 baby per year for 7 years. A lot more kids would spread too thin the attention we are able to give to each one as they mature.

Me: “Yes, structured domination is the same benefit and control of slaves without the slaves knowing someone specific to blame for their condition. So it's even more powerful.” The freedom of basic income though has proven to be a more powerful economic driver. Work is much more profitable when only those who want to work are working, and being more profitable motivates more people to want to work. More importantly, the more the freed masses have disposable income, the more work is needed to collect their spending. With basic income, and the automation we developed to do manual labour, most work quickly became like it is today: Sales/persuasion or some variant of it. Where slavery broke down economically, is when society's rulers ran out of necessity to make the slaves work, because machines could do it. They had to choose between extermination and freedom, and many jurisdictions south of the original provinces looked long and hard at making extermination work.   Also, slavery is bad, and even if rulers can use structured domination tricks to control people the same way, it's still wrong.

“You said it wasn't just basic income that improved Canada. Our direct governance and tax code changes were just as important?” - Cindy asked next, obviously attentive.

“Maybe even more important” I added. The high business cash-flow-based tax rates needed for UBI encouraged many businesses everywhere to locate production in Canada, because of the tax refunds that choice gave them. They also spent a lot on marketing in Canada so that the UBI income of Canadians flowed up to businesses. Direct democracy made sure to cut government program spending to the super efficient minimum, since every cut meant a higher dividend payment for everyone. So, it's the 3 things together that made Canada into the dominant economic power with its head start on traditional countries. Higher and higher UBI led to higher and higher entrepreneurship.

Cindy: “I don't know if I want to work when I grow up, Dad. How much UBI will I get?”

Me: “If it doesn't go up anymore, you will get $30k/year or about $2M over your expected lifetime. What do you think you'd do instead of working?”

Cindy: “Draw, dance, play games, read, watch videos, go to the beach.... so many lazy things to enjoy”

Me: “Well a couple of those are creating stuff. You like the feeling of accomplishment and attention you get from creating stuff? I think you like reading because you like learning. I used to wonder the same thing when I was young, but I had so many ideas, and it was pretty easy to ask for help with those ideas, and people asked me to help them, and it only took a few hours per week to help. At first the extra money was good for more trips to the beach, then it was getting more generobots. It was fun to enhance these, and it was also a source of extra money renting their time to the coop. Work eventually became a path to bigger living space, and more entertainment, and finally the security to choose a large family to fill up our lives.”

Me: “But its not all about money. Your mom started her baby incubation business for money, but her contributions to the cooperative-sourced home incubator model is only in part about money. It's much less money than old monopoly patent models, but it's helped bring affordable and convenient child production to the world, or at least to Canada for now. My activities in social governance are unpaid, but it brings me satisfaction and prestige, and like today's meeting, new friends who want to influence me.”

Me: “... Speaking of which, I've got to get going to this meeting. We'll finish talking about the US's decline when I get back. Pick any tutors you want for the day, and go with your sisters or mom if it's out of the building.”

I needed to take two generobots (the best ones of course... if only to impress) with me. I quickly reprogrammed the tasks they were assigned (mostly going to our communal and private gardens on floors above 160 for cocoa processing, and starting a new batch of lab meat), and distributed some tasks to other bots, but mostly rescheduled them. I did most of this on the 123 floor elevator ride to the velomobile storage room. I still call it cycling even if the generobots are providing most of the power. Family-sized vehicles cost too much to park, though I try to convince everyone that I prefer cycling regardless of cost, and of course I do, or at least I've convinced myself too. The big advantage is that with generobots, the motors follow me around and install themselves into any application including my (or often shared) inexpensive light vehicle, that I built with generobots.

My ride from Evergreen to the Foundation for Moral Law offices in Montgomery is not one I do often. I usually go towards Upper Mobile which is a major fundraising nexus for building the sea wall that will restore livability in old Mobile Bay area (where I own land passed down from my great grand parents who fled to Toronto to join my grand-dad when sea level rise destroyed their home). This proposed sea wall is so small compared to all of the other areas of North America, but Alabama was so poor 5 years ago when they were “allowed” (under more oppressive terms than any other former US state) into Canada, and part of the terms were that it raise taxes enough to fund most of the sea wall itself. The project is complicated because the big winners are those who own land that would be reclaimed (worthless for the 40 years it will take for CO2 cleanup to take its course, if no sea wall is built), while losers would be those who currently have beachfront land, though this land is not currently valuable and being developed due to the expectation of either an eventual sea wall, and/or receding sea levels. Beachfront land in neighbouring Florida and Mississippi is 10 times more valuable.

Along the way to Montgomery, I see several new 200 story buildings, and several more under construction. Evergreen and Greenville have grown into cities of several million inhabitants entirely from Canadian immigration in the 5 years since provincialization. These skyscrapers are nearly self-sustained habitats, but significant manufacturing, including most generobot builders have added capacity in Greenville to redevelop Alabama to Canadian standards and take advantage of the high tax rates and spending credits. I think fear and uncertainty about Alabama leads Canadians to choose the ultra dense designs they know from home. It's pretty ideal for community and cooperation, though native Alabamans still prefer their sprawl and space.

Getting to Montgomery though is sickening. Ruins from the stupid robocop policies of the early 2050s are not fully rebuilt in some outskirts. The first 200 years of Alabama politics were pretty centred on the “negro problem” but oppressing blacks at least had the advantage of more easily exploiting their labour. By the 2050s, there simply was no longer a need for slaves, but Alabama politicians still held power by supporting militarized robocop assaults on black neighbourhoods. There was some generobot resistance/terrorism which were blamed on black citizens, but I think what finally led Alabama to beg for provincehood was that black people had mostly fled to lead happy lives in other parts of Canada, and so their politics couldn't be divisively centred on hatred of “non-real-Alabamans” anymore. I'm not racist, but this is the roots of the redneck scumbag I am about to meet.

Right after I ride though the gates of the Foundation for Moral Law compound, I see two friggin 12 foot tall robocops with twin Gatling guns “guarding” the path. Freaking me the hell out, as I was expecting “normalish” offices. Call my wife, “I think I just entered a Nazi compound evil KKK lair over here. If you don't hear from me again, I've been murdered.” I said in a semi-panicked voice.

“Are the robocops giving you a countdown to comply? No? Then you probably have a few more hours to live” was her calming reply. Before going in though, I was panicked enough to get my mind racing through to program the generobots with electro-weapons (no real weapons with me). I knew that they would not be allowed in the meeting (due to their potentially incriminating recording capabilities), but my plan was to leave them nearby, in reception area perhaps, and program them to respond to my yell, and try to shock anyone close to me. This seemed pretty clever for a 20 minute coding process, but it was untested and crude.

Entering the compound with my generobots in tow, I was comforted that there were no nazis or goons of any type. There were in fact no noticeable people at all. A directory pointed me to Ron Moore's 2nd story office. This in fact did lead to a reception area, but it was unstaffed. Just a relic of historic home designs, I think. The lack of indoor robocops or goons of any kind did comfort me. The ostentatious palatial 19th century mansion and outer security facade, belied a low operating budget, that was crystallized when a very outdated generobot (at least 5 years old!) took my coffee and pastry order. How was this Ron Moore guy going to bribe me?

As Ron greets me and guides me to his desk, he asks “So I hear you have 80 million Canadian delegates. 4th highest. Does that make you a senator or something?”

Me: “Maybe a senator who can lose his seat after every vote. It's 80 million delegates for economic project issues, I have zero in Military budget and moral issues. A handful in environment and energy regulation. Those that have more delegates than me tend to vote no on all project proposals that involve any UBI sacrifice. I vote no a lot too. The focus for most projects is gathering private or other narrow funding and debt, such that no UBI dividend cut results from the project, while the project still an expectation of future increases. I gained most of my delegates when I structured Alabama's provincialization.”

Ron nods as though he knew that there are no senators or parliament or head of state anymore. Just functional silos, each with their own narrow executive power, and subject to audit, recall, and democratic overthrow on a regular basis.

Me: “This morning my daughter asked me why the USA dissolved, and my answers are always longer than an 8 year old wants, and so long in this case, that I never got to the specific catalysts. So, bad economics/no basic income, high debt, and high emigration were the background factors, but your grandparent's role in fracturing the nation seemed pretty central. Decades of Republican election fraud, persecution of non-conservatives including minorities. Sure, the first big West Antartic calving was very destructive to banks and insurers worldwide, but other countries managed through the devastation without dissolving their nation. Do you acknowledge that your grandparent was responsible for... uhmm... (lets go with the least polite version here) the destruction of America?” -- A bold small talk question, with which I asserted my dominance.

Ron did not seem upset by the statement/question, and instead appeared very reasonable and non-rednecky in his reply, which since I am not racist, should be no surprise.

Ron: “The politics at the time did not allow for conciliatory appeasement of our enemies. Driving away liberals and minorities was a political necessity. I heard it justified by my family in 2 ways: First, we can value the admiration and respect of our family and close in-group over the world's respect, and second, our family retained power, and did better through “the destruction of America” than we could imagine under a prosperous but liberal blaspheme to White Christianity. Even if there was obvious economic retardation caused by clinging to heavily hierarchical economic domineering models, the top of the hierarchy sees clinging to its past gains as more comforting than the prospects of competing in the prosperity of freedom, and besides, the hierarchy could maintain its power relationships and just invest in the prosperity that basic income lead to.”

Ron continued: “  Making a credible pretense to opposing progress let us make investments in that progress at a cheaper price, and channelling our “United states of Canada” profits into acquiring cheap land in, what you called, “Jesusland-Alabama” positioned us well for our Provincialization 5 years ago. And this is a theme I wanted to talk to you about, today. “

Ron: “Can you see a way for you to leverage your position in Canadian governance to benefit yourself or other parties on this Alabama sea wall issue?”

Me: “First, I've inherited what was resort property on Dauphin island. So I do have a personal interest in seeing sea level drop in the area put on an accelerated path.”

Me: “But I don't see a way for me to corrupt the process of proposing a sea wall solution. We start with computer models of everyone that benefits, then match the costs of the project proportionally based on benefits. The biggest benefactors by far are Mobile Bay property owners, as a very short section of wall restores a large amount of land that was previously heavily used and worth a lot for Alabama. The next group of direct benefactors are the south western coast of Alabama property holders. It seems obvious that we want a full wall that connects to Mississipi and Florida's wall, but the south west portion is longer and reclaims less total land than the Mobile Bay portion. It would cost Mobile Bay property owners less if we just built a tiny wall for them, and let the rest of the state rot.”

Me: “Regardless of the funding formula, the benefactors are currently unable to benefit from their land. They need the help of Alabama and Canada's funds and access to debt to fund the wall, and their property taxes (and surtaxes) will pay that funding back. Alabama and Canada and their people also have benefits from the land reclamation: Higher future income tax revenue and prime space to relocate to. It means higher future basic income dividends for everyone. Debt financing seems like the preferred solution as it means not sacrificing current social dividends.”

Me: “This should have been relatively easy for a small wall and done by now. The tension between Mobile Bay and the rest of the Alabama coast is a big deal. Florida panhandle property owners are interfering because it will make their land less special/valuable. They're playing all sides telling Canadians and Northern Alabamans not to pay anything, pushing every benefactor to be extra greedy and uncompromising.”

Me: “Did you mean if there was a way to create graft on the cost side? Benefit a specific supplier?” I asked sensing that I was focusing on issues that were preoccupying me the most, rather than answering Ron's question.

Ron: I did want to know all the stuff you just told me, but Yes I am interested in this question”

Me: “So the implementation proposals are separate votes from the funding and needs arrangements, and even when a proposal is approved by the majority of funding stakeholders (Property owners, Alabamans, Canadians or their delegates); many improvement proposals usually get voted on in quick succession, often with competing suppliers arranging among themselves to subcontract portions of it. Its very hard to pad the cost budget because of this. Providing cost and completion time guarantees or penalties, is not really padding. It's risk shifting. Also, because we do almost every project with thousands of generobots from the Borg cooperative, the costs are very predictable: A function of materials needed really, since there is no manual labour. The cost of the design file isn't big and doesn't vary so much even with constraints placed by the approved proposal.”

Ron: “Let me suggest a way we can profit from this process, but first, is this project something you want, and how sure are you it will get funded?”

Me: Yes. Even with high property taxes on the area, and Mobile Bay property owners subsidizing southwest Alabama's wall portion, I expect high property value appreciation. The returns to Alabama and Canada fully justify the debt involved (there are regulatory safeguards on allowable public debt). So no one has to sacrifice their UBI dividends to support it, and so as soon as we settle on a compromise among the property owners, it will speed through approvals at the higher financing levels.

Ron: “My idea is to propose a solution that will cost 5 to 10 times as much: Build a giant sea wall laying machine (fairly high fixed cost), but that reduces the variable cost and time per meter of wall drastically.”

Me: “That doesn't make sense. Alabama is the last place in North America that needs a sea wall. This would seriously sabotage the project .”

Ron: “Well the advantage of “sabotage” is that we can acquire land cheaply if the sabotage successfully depresses expectations of any project, but even if the new project fails we can go back to the simpler one. When I say we, I am suggesting that you may be offered blockchain smart contract payments upon profitable land resales... The giant machine would be justified if Mexico or parts thereof were provincialized with UBI. What do you think of that?”

Me: “Well Mexico and Latin America did poorly over the last 50 years. They lacked the capital and consumer wealth to compete with automated production. The region was a source of very heavy emigration to Canada. The powerful there lacked the will to copy Canada's high tax structure because it threatened their exploitation profits (even though automation threatened it more), so they never offered the production credits that could attract foreign capital to their nations.”

Me: “Also, there was considerable opposition from Canadians to provincializing Alabama 5 years ago, and Mexico is even poorer than Alabama was. It meant sacrificing “real Canadians” UBI dividends to sponsor “inferior hateful rednecks” as an investment in their development. Some made it out as a charitable request. It was a major uphill campaign to get a majority approval, and I'd see even more resistance to assimilating Mexico.”

Ron: “But the terms of Alabama's provincialization were fairly oppressive... including tributary levies of Alabama tax revenue back to Canadians. Limited state, I mean provincial, UBI until we paid off the advances. Imposed deadlines for democratic reform to your delegate system. Our foundation here protested against provincialization... But it's turned out great. Land values soaring. No crime. Millions of square feet in new development each week. Elysium and other technology.”

Me: “And the tributes back to Canada are ahead of schedule. I think all peoples are pretty happy with how it turned out.”

Ron: “Exactly!... and Alabama serves as a model for provincializing Latin America. It shouldn't be sold to Canadians as a charity project, because it's not. Alabama was not a charity project after the terms YOU insisted on. Provincializing the world is a development project that leads to higher UBI for Canadians, just like it did in Alabama, and gives them a sunny destination to develop and expand with ever larger families.”

Me: “Canada had always wanted to drastically increase its population. Is there a concern for world overpopulation though?”

Ron: “Overpopulation is always a local issue. Our nearly free energy allows indoor agriculture and those 200 story habitats you people are putting up all over Alabama. How come you guys don't sprawl out on all of our empty land?”

Me: “Our habitats are cooperatively owned, financed by Canadians before they come down, and it's cheap enough that UBI covers the financing. It's an open design. No speculator intermediary. With space for 200k adults, were paying for 1/200000th the land, the foundation, the roof, elysium-centers, power backup... Density saves on energy. Having 20 times the space in the open would cost 200 times as much. Part of the appeal for immigrants is not relying on local police and authorities for protection. Part of the coop appeal is people contributing their generobot time to the project and/or getting a used generobot upon completion. So getting back to your giant sea wall machine proposal, the recycling/reuse/occupancy time of generobots is a major factor in keeping projects that use them, inexpensive. They transition to industrial and home use very easily.”

Ron: Newest generation of generobots are strong enough to weld and build large complex machines. Generobots will build the machine. It's expensive because it's complex and will probably require several prototypes. Building a 2nd copy will be cheap. By the way, I have no involvement in the building of this machine. I just want to buy cheap land ahead of the projects when the public is unaware that approval is imminent. The machine can be up for public bids, financed privately, if Canada guarantees say 1000 or 2000 miles within 10 years at half the cost of generobot build per mile.

Me: “You also want me to create an impression that an immediate sea wall protecting Alabama is being abandoned? For weeks? Months?”

Ron: “A few days should do it. Just announce something pessimistic about East side vs. West side squabbling. We'll put in a lot of land purchase offers just below current market. Many properties are bank-owned and even securitized into portfolios. Dumb AI will react to the news by automatically accepting our offers, and the drop in the securitized indexes will scare real people into accepting too.”

Me: “I'm liking your plan in terms of what is good for Canadians and Mexicans too. The South East and South West Alabama squabbles can get resolved by diverting their property taxes into royalty shares from the giant machine project. So even if Mobile Bay area pays a bit more than the land reclamation costs for their area, they'd get paybacks later... How sure are you that Mexico, or regions thereof, would accept provincialization?”

Ron: “Mexicans I think would appreciate the substantial increase in living standard that comes with UBI even if development doesn't materialize. Businesses there will appreciate their customers being able to spend more, and as for the sovereign power structure, tipping them off to buy up underwater and other land, is a way for them to trade their current power for money, and should bring them on board. Canada is also very well regarded in the world for the very high contributions they made in carbon capture and sequestration devices... A sacrifice Canadians made that have rescued the world from climate catastrophe.”

Me: “OK. If UBI can work in Alabama, it can work in every backward hellhole, right?”

Ron: “Ha. And the old politics of sell high, create shitstorm, then buy low can always get around your ideal direct-democratic structure.”

As we finalized our agreement, including the specific “small bribe amount” I was to receive, and the theatrical press leak timings and whatnot, I did an internal check for how I felt ethically about this. I realized that neither of us really needed each other very much in this plan. I could get friends and family to buy land without Ron, and I can propose this plan that helps Canada, Alabama and Mexico, also regardless of my or Ron's land purchases. I also realized that this was essentially Ron's surprisingly very liberal and progressive idea that was not consistent with his family's historical political stances. Perhaps progressive action requires demons to rally them?

Me: “Ron, I actually think politics have changed and are less corrupt than before. We just can't stop some of us from knowing the future ahead of the rest. I guess profiting from that knowledge is not exactly admirable. But, if letting a few Mexican politicians know the future early is the only way to grant Mexicans the freedom of Canada, then that isn't so... corrupt.”

Ron: “You've convinced me too... hahaha.”

The laugh unsettles me.

Ron pours some drinks and hands me one. He raises his glass and shouts “TO CANADA!”. I raise mine and yell “TO ALABAMA!”. The door bursts open, and I yank my head around to see my generobot there. It fixes its camera on Ron, and lunges towards him. I yell “STOP PROGRAM” barely remembering the security program I'd hacked in the parking lot... and fortunately I react in time, and the generobot stops. I stumble through a non explanation, and then we merrily talked drinking conversation ignoring the incident completely for the rest of my short stay. 

“To the start of a beautiful friendship.”



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