The perfect turbulence gently rocking the country had been building in intensity. Isolation had become the dominant feeling felt by the majority of citizens. Their overwhelming usefulness had deteriorated into a hindrance for a business-dominated society that demanded all things on the cheap including these working citizens. No one felt secure in this tarnished world muddling along in a cesspool of corruption.
Lackey federal government servants tethered to multinational business interests stopped addressing the needs of the insignificant individuals living in hamlets, towns, cities, and states. Their only concern rested with extracting more from those same individuals who had less to give. The powerful had built a religion founded by brilliant business minds lying fallow with a crown of lunacy.
Why address the needs of those with no direct power? Why address the wants of those isolated in this land of unfulfilled promises? All that mattered was supplying a vast army of cogs beaten and downtrodden enough to acquiesce to the every demand of their Masters of the Universe. It was a new world with a new world order not to be confused with the old world grounded in ethics and humanity.
For the most part humankind had been 'deep-sixed' never to be reincarnated during the reign of the all-powerful business. If ordained by the religious zealots of business as good it was good but heaven forbid if these same all knowing all seeing priests yelled from their pulpits that something was bad no questions dared be asked.
Frugality was good but extravagance on the part of average citizens was bad. Influence pounding its fist on hardwood tables demanding perks, kickbacks, and laws to protect those in the well-healed club of the few was good but sign waving angry citizens demanding justice was bad. Groups organized for the express purpose of countering the power of other non-business sanctioned groups was good but never believe for a minute that other equally constituted groups with agendas that countered the interests of the business society were good - they were positively bad.
Bright teethed toothpaste addicted politicians blessed the common man in speeches so numerous the mind would go numb. But that was only the scarce thinking minds not the hordes of wonderfully obedient servile serfs with blank stares that accepted their place in a dying economy. They would always rise cheering gleefully while vigorously beating their chests with pride. They were the majority, sitting in a stupor. Isolated from the democratic process they let shrivel. Meanwhile, workers would just acquiesce to the overarching demands of the powerful rather than fight to take their government back from these business elites.
Accepting this, accepting that, bending over for a shiny black boot kicked in the rump; this was their dog like sniveling response to the heap of indignities shoveled like manure onto a freshly plowed field.
Copious quantities of propaganda were no longer required to placate those in the public who asked too many questions or looked too closely at the facts. Gleefully accepting without question all that was ordained right the citizenry had morphed into furry little animals ready to please their masters.
On this beautiful day declared early enough for all to enjoy its dark cloudy sky Jim Hauser stepped from his cinder block apartment with a broad smile. This wasn't just any smile worn for the pleasure of others but a passionate smile of a believer. Wearing his best corporate uniform Jim was excited that his eighteen-hour day would soon begin.
Concern furrowed his usually smooth brow when he happened to glance down at his uniform; the one he'd been forced to purchase for a full months wages from the company store. It just hadn't held up very well for patches covered the pants and shirt making it look like some clown's costume. The uniforms were supposed to last six months but after just two months they usually required repair in the form of carefully placed stitches and patches. This was to be expected since they were made of the poorest cotton sewn together by the lowest worker serfs using rusty machines located on some remote island or the expansive super gulag called China.
Never mind. This was to be a day to rival all except probably tomorrow. Immediately recognizing his failure to adhere to the 'team' mandated plan of 'happiness'; Jim vanquished his concern in "the blessed illogic of the moment". He knew he didn't have the right to question the impeccable 'logic' of "The Rulers". His place was carved in the tombstone of drudgery. He'd work until he was no longer deemed useful to his employer.
After the fall of the United States of America all the bickering politicians aligned themselves with their respective lobbyist blocks to form three business regimes. The three business regimes were police states operating on an American continent suffering under extreme poverty.
Jim's gulag was the largest of the three in terms of population. Located from the old state of Maine all the way down to what was Florida with a western border reaching to the Mississippi River the Eastern United States was an efficient slave camp. It had no rival in the cruelty it exacted both subtly and blatantly. The other two permanent pain-producing centers of business government were aptly called the Central Business States and the Western Business States. None of these geographical national entities registered mentally with Jim for he was the product of expertly dispensed propaganda spooned out ever so carefully to all working serfs over their useful lives.
Jim still recalled the gooey complacent comfort he felt as a small boy. Reaching his sixth birthday he'd been transferred from his parent's overly protective embrace into the coarse bloated hands of the state. It was a wondrous time of enlightenment; a time when he dispensed with his individual self in favor of the logically correct team self. He learned that team oriented tasks in a factory run by the International Clothing Company were far more fulfilling than the useless unproductive play he'd engaged in prior to his "Freedom Service". To this day he found it hard to believe he could ever have found "Lost Time" spent outside task-oriented work the least rewarding.
"Lost Time" was just that, time lost to unproductive bodily necessities like defecating, eating, or reproduction. The corporation, the many manipulative arms of the corporate dominated world regarded all biological necessities as a hindrance to meeting "The Schedule".
Minds of the most Immaculate Conception had been so blackened with corruption and ego centric mores that they truly believed that only time spent producing things for the few who could afford them was time well spent. No other time mattered. Crawling out of bed after an allotted five hours of sleep constituted the most appalling waste of time to those who's wallets must always be kept bulging. Was it therefore any wonder that "The Rulers" had been investing amazing sums of precious profit in laboratories working on a 'cure' for these time sucking plagues. But to date no breakthroughs had been found that would allow the companies to extract from their working serfs what was euphemistically termed "Total Productive Bliss".
So on this picture perfect day of dark clouds, rain, and gale force winds Jim made his way to the corner of his street. He never noticed the crumbling sidewalk his feet carefully navigated, the hole covered street that seldom had cars, or the dirty bombed out buildings never repaired even though "The Turf Wars" had ended twenty years ago. His gaze did regularly drift towards the banners depicting the magnificent achievements of the Eastern United States.
These were the products of marketing firms staffed with legions of truth benders who supplied propaganda to all the business states of the world. Always very entertaining, reflecting the latest beliefs christened by the state, and the out in out lies of the day, they represented a respite from the drab all absorbing monotony. Smiling labor drones dressed in crisp sparkling clean corporate uniforms covering broad shouldered overly large men and buxom spectacularly alluring women were depicted working duteously in offices or factories. Graphic artists painted magnificent cities with spires reaching towards the clouds for backgrounds with various themes used to convey the "Words of Wisdom" from "The Rulers". There was the ever popular "Life without Work is Like Sex without Orgasm" and the deadly serious, "Teamwork Crushes Individualism" and "Work harder for the Betterment of Your Business".
Beside these worker related banners hiding the dirt, grime, broken windows, and cracked masonry were the fabricated statistics from the "Statistics Division". Statistics abounded; found on little pieces of paper, pasted to the inside of apartment windows, on refrigerators, and on billboards. The most eminent experts in business science ordained personally by "The Rulers" scientifically concocted all statistics. Productivity was always increasing, the standard of living was always improving, and wages were always increasing even though they'd actually been decreasing due to the glut of readily available workers sucked into the dominant global businesses. Only the very old remembered being paid wages above the subsistence level but they lived in the country in camps away from the general population. It was just safer to keep them cloistered from the unpolluted minds of the useful young workers.
At the corner Jim waited with hundreds of other uniforms all plastered with their corporate masters logo on their right breast. The rain poured, lightning lit up the surrounding unlit block exposing a bleak depressing landscape of decay. Jim and his fellow worker drones on the other hand saw what their business master's government demanded they see - a pleasant prosperous community bathed in free-market happiness. They might be wet to the bone without umbrellas or a raincoat but their bliss rested in their self-assured group attitude that their lives were eminently better than they'd ever been. Feeling secure under this government attuned to the needs of global business they were at least guaranteed a job that would pay for food, clothing, and a leaky roof.
Details rarely entered these vacuum packed minds. Was the food adequate, the clothing appealing or free from holes, and why must they spend their entire life paying rent or a mortgage on a dwelling a dog would be afraid to call home. It was just easier to gravitate to the center of least resistance and move through life like a puppet unaware, unconcerned, and oblivious to its environment.
Pulling slowly up to the curb, chugging and expelling noxious black gas clouds into the air, the rusty government bus rolled its bald tires to a stop. Creaking at first then screeching the wobbly door opened.
Jim fought for a place in line busting the face of the man in front of him with a right hook to the jaw. His corporate team at least on this his block consisted of five other burley brutes that luckily for Jim always insured they'd get on the bus. The stakes were high for if a worker serf was late they were docked a day's pay. So fights were a common occurrence at "Worker Transport Stops" throughout the police state. It was just another form of encouraged competition in a world that had allowed humanity to devolve to its most brutal form.
With their place at the front of the line ensured Jim and his corporate team got onto the bus stepping on only those jagged rusty steps that could still support the weight of their bodies. There was no room for error in this mean existence. Not watching your step, what you say, how you addressed your superior's, or your demeanor could cost you dearly. You could lose your leg in the razor sharp hole in the floor of the steps on a bus or even your life from the change of your status from being "Useful" to "Un-useful" by an employer acting upon a whim.
If wanted to survive in this cruel amoral society you quickly made the necessary attitudinal adjustment. Killing the social nature in people at an early age became the primary objective of the police state. Communication between working serfs needed to be curtailed, or eliminated outright. The state believed it had the expertise to excise from working serfs the human need to associate with other people. This conversion from human being into emotionless robot occurred throughout childhood. By the time laborers reached adulthood they'd been turned into nothing more than windup toys to be played with carelessly by their business lords.
To further guarantee that association between laborers was limited to only task essential communication the state fostered an environment of suspicion and fear. The state's most effective tool in perpetuating this inhuman environment devoid of human contact was the "Report Corporate Enemies Incentive Program" enacted at the request of their business masters. Since its enactment hundreds of thousands of working serfs had been sent to prison where they worked unprotected in chemical factories and uranium mines. The only assurance of release they could count on was they'd be dead within fewer than five years. To confide in a 'friend' was therefore tantamount to placing a noose around your neck and jumping off a tall stool. Any working serf seeking to curry favor with the omnipotent managers of the business could use the slightest remark against you. Your word would be feather light compared to the word of a favored labor lackey or disgruntled supervisor.
Jim learned early on the cost of speaking to those he met at work or in his neighborhood. Having just graduated from "Indoctrination High" he was primed and ready to "work his ass off" but losing himself in "Loose Unproductive Talk" on graduation night nearly cost him his life. Mentioning in passing to another young man in the crowd after having four beers complements of the local business block that he'd rather work for "Tiger Enterprises" instead of "Revolver Multinational" was a mistake he'd never forget. The next morning the police kicked in the door to the hostel he was staying at and dragged him face first across the hot crumbled pavement to a waiting police van.
After being roused from his unconscious stupor by a pale of cold water thrown on his head he felt the blow from a well-placed fist to his nose hearing it break. Two wobbly-bellied enforcers of the state began wailing into his strapped down body.
"Why did you say that you'd rather work for Tiger Enterprises instead of Revolver Multinational?" shouted the more frightening of the two goons.
Jim remembered vividly that his "I don't know" response was clearly not what these mindless morons of correct state society wanted to hear. For this response he received three broken ribs and a fractured tibia.
After lying spread out on the wet concrete floor barely breathing for what seemed like days an emaciated skeleton of a guard brought him a change of clothes and some greasy slop in a metal plate with a spoon fixed firmly in the gruel. He was then instructed to change into these clothes and eat this gooey mess of a meal. After forcing the disgusting fat mixture down, he placed the black suit on and snapped the cheap tie in place.
Jim was then taken before a magistrate who informed him that he was being charged with "Maligning the Reputation of a Corporate Entity". His torturers had suggested pleading guilty, so he pleads guilty. He received a suspended sentence from the magistrate. But he also heard a blistering warning. The judge stated that since he'd just graduated from "Indoctrination High" his youthful lack of working experience could probably account for his indiscretion but no leniency would be given for another offense - only steely bars and a quick painful death in a prison camp would be the result of another outburst.
There just wasn't any reason to look back into a past that was already characterized as being perfect by the great horde of locust who called themselves managers, supervisors, and owners of the businesses and its government. Realizing the futility of reflection, the utter waste of time involved in engaging in unproductive thought Jim quickly broke off from this path down the painful past. It was hard to understand why he always felt uneasy when he slipped back into his prior experiences. But it was painful, it wasn't pleasant, it wasn't peaceful, it wasn't blissful, it was awful. Was he sliding away from the happiness that had saving cushioned him over all these years. Years filled with pleasure - no not pleasure, pain, and more pain. These clear unchallenged thoughts burst forth, but they would blow away like dust particles carried by the wind. In this society obedience at all levels was maintained without the least concern for the wellbeing of citizens; they must work, and they must obey; there were no exceptions.
Sitting on the hard pinewood splinter covered bench heading for another workday at the "Software Factory" Jim just looked out the soot covered window as the bus found every hole in the road. Bouncing up and down in his seat was part of his daily commute to the "Intellectual Enclosure" on the outskirts of the city.
Passing the ruins of "The Suburbs"; row upon row of wild grass, vine covered, brown boarded, broken sidewalk, weed penetrating, tree branch crushed homes Jim drifted off imagining what it must have been like to live in such spacious mansions. This was always a high point of the trip for Jim continually marveled at the size of these beat up shells. How could anyone have ever afforded such space? With all of his wages going to food, the rent on his apartment, and a meager supply of clothing consisting of a uniform and a set of pajamas Jim struggled to comprehend such luxury. Even with two to three families living in these expansive palaces per the state placards railing against the waste of the early years - they were still grand in scale. In comparison his vermin infested apartment with its single room, old wood burning stove in what was called a kitchen, a bathroom with a sink & toilet, and a floor shared with five other working serfs all fighting for a place to drop their sleeping bags at night was obviously a hovel. But he immediately realized that he should be thankful for his shared place in an apartment where he could at least rest his head upon a soiled pillow. Without question this small blessing of comfort cost his corporate masters dearly in higher wages paid to Jim than his counterparts in places like India or Mongolia.
Every turn in Jim's life had been a competitive life or death struggle consistent with the "Holy Virtues of Competition" espoused in the corporate approved "Gospel of the Global Economy". No allowance was ever made for luxuries except for those who were christened high priests of the business or state entities. These special holders of "The Truth" were said to live lives of opulence second only to "The Rulers".
"The Rulers" were above every living-breathing organism, all existing for their exclusive use and pleasure. Questioning any edict handed down from "The Rulers" meant certain slow death. Questioning any rule, procedure, or 'suggestion' coming from any management representative of business was always dealt with by terminating the disrespectful, team adverse working serf. Once fired the working serf would be classified as "un-useful" and would never find a replacement corporate master - the labor slave would starve to death on the street. Being omnipotent without any reasonable barrier to the exercise of their power a business or state representative above the level of a mere working serf was therefore pampered and showered with praise.
All these elites were extremely dangerous. No individual's remained only mindless worker drones rolled up in corporate enforced teams. The system of unlimited evil rolled on without any interference from below. It ground forward (or backward depending upon your perspective) towards the objective of sucking resources and income up high in an attempt to fulfill the unquenchable greed of the political and business elite.