A Capitalist Carol, Stave 8


The story so far: The third spirit to visit the high-spending politician Ed Splurge is showing him the dystopia that will be created by his statist policies…  

What Splurge had seen was bad enough: talk of universal surveillance, the suppression of free action, free speech, even of free thought itself, in this future of his own creation. But as the Ghost of Freedom Yet to Come continued to point Splurge towards the dismal scene, he knew that worse was to come.

The zealots arranged around their computer screens continued their business. “Report from the Minister of Public Safety!” called the figure at the head of the gathering, as another got up to speak.

“I am glad to report, Prime Minister,” said this second figure, “that a complete ban on unhealthy living is now in place. After our total suppression of smoking – “

“Total?” asked another, skeptically. “I understood that the black market in cigarettes was booming since you outlawed tobacco, and that thousands were being smuggled in by organized gangs!”

The Minister of Public Safety hardly missed a beat “– we moved to ban fatty foods and fizzy drinks, with similarly harsh penalties for those who subject their bodies to these vile substances.

“But there is more sugar in orange juice than fizzy pop!” cried Splurge, before realizing that the shadows before him could not hear, and were unaware of his presence.

“Chocolates, bacon, and eating Christmas goose are now all illegal,” continued the Minister. It is a positive contribution to the health and welfare of our citizens.” There was yet more satisfaction expressed by the assembled gathering.

“Oh, spirit! Cried Splurge. “Can they not see that in the name of promoting the welfare of human beings, they have robbed them of their very humanity? They have robbed them of their freedom!”

“Chancellor of the Exchequer!” Another figure rose up to speak at the command: “The new 100% tax on income is working well, Prime Minister,” it reported. “Our procedures to assess how much people actually need to live on are now in place, and most are receiving their allowances within a month at the most.”

“Can we really be taking all people’s income, and then giving them back only what the state deems fit?” howled Splurge, realizing the horror of where his high-spending, high-taxing, high-borrowing policies were actually leading. “Do people in this future really need to ask officials before they dare do anything at all?”

Another figure was called to speak: “The Permission to Act Bill has now completed its passage through Parliament and is now the Permission to Act Act,” it began.

But by this point, Splurge’s head was reeling. As darkness swept over him, he had a strange feeling, that the figure at the head of the discussants was none other than – himself.

“Spirit!” he pleaded. “Are these the shadows of things that must be? Tell me these things might yet be changed!” But there came no reply, only darkness.