The End of the World

The year was maybe 2000 or 2015 or 2030, it really isn't important exactly when this story took place. The following, though, is a report on the life and times experienced by the world.

The world's governments and peoples were run nearly entirely at the behest of the so- called "Global Economy". Any legislation introduced was legally required to be for the benefit of business interests worldwide. Various international trade treaties, written entirely by corporate lobbyists, had enabled corporations from any nation to sue any level of government to force the retraction of any law believed to interfere with the ability to make their desired profits. Politicians openly ran for office as representatives and indentured employees of various business interests. All laws regarding the environment or worker protection or even child labor laws had been gutted or negated by the conservative movements in the world's capitalist nations. Illnesses and diseases caused by tainted produce or dangerous products were quickly covered up or officially denied and the number of workers injured on the job no longer acknowledged. Childhood education was geared not towards an accumulation of knowledge but only at a course of study which would benefit the needs of the expanding Global Economy.

American labor unions no longer existed due to an anti-union law passed in America in 1998. This law stripped all worker's groups of any voice or power in government. Americans were fooled, as they were so many times in their sad history, into believing that the government and corporate executives would treat their workers with respect if only the organized labor movements were discredited and removed from the scene. This fraud on the remaining workers was discovered to be a lie far too late to ever rectify. Employment contracts were created and forced on the employees allowing employers to pay whatever they chose, to expect and demand whatever work hours best suited the company and to replace workers at will and without cause. Those few workers who complained of the dangers and inequalities were either fired or quietly threatened into silence. Nearly all jobs were considered temporary and/or part-time in order to escape paying the benefits the weakened laws still required for full-time positions. Work weeks were legally considered to be 39 hours but, of course, the unpaid but legally required overtime extended that to nearly sixty-five hours on average. Anti-overtime demonstrations were commonly put down though the lethal use of force by the paramilitary armies most corporations once again either owned or employed.

Racism again reared its ugly head as the media and government successfully diverted attention from the misery and squalor they were causing in their obscene pursuit of profits and power. Unemployment was blamed on immigrants "stealing" the people's jobs (although no one asked why the immigrants were hired by these same corporations who now blamed them for the lost opportunities nor why the government allowed it nor why the majority of workers were women and children, in the first place). Women were attacked as "lazy" and a "burden on society" if they didn't return to work quickly after childbirth. The elderly were vilified as "a disease" which "was stealing the worker's hard earned pensions by living far too long". Even the children were attacked because of the cost of educating them. The disabled and sickly were simply ignored and expected to die quietly.

Health related government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Center for Disease Control and even small, locally funded medical clinics had long since been phased out of existence as examples of the fictitious "Big Government" that the narrow minded leaders had convinced the American voters to despise. No longer was clean water available in the poorer neighborhoods nor were sewage or garbage disposal obtainable for any but the wealthiest. The corporations which now owned all medical facilities rationed even basic medical care to the poor and middle-class. Legal representation was unheard of except for the very, very wealthy. Diseases which were once thought nearly extinct, such as typhoid fever and diphtheria and even small pox, made a reappearance due to the unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, killing millions in the thriving slums which had emerged in every city. Children born ill or weak simply died for lack of medical care or adequate food and the deaths caused by childbirth became the second leading cause of fatalities (after suicide) among the poor and middle-class women.

The American stock market was at its record high of 12,000 even though the few independent-thinking economists that were left warned that every corporation listed was obscenely over-valued. The market survived only on the continued revenue injected by the new "Privatized Social Security" scheme Congress had passed in 1999, over the loud objections of the few remaining liberals and even Congress' own General Accounting Office's recommendation. These were legally required, by the same act of Congress, to invest all worker's retirement income, both corporate and private, in the stock market. By the year 2002, though, pension plans were being raided so often by corporations that few workers ever received a penny upon their, usually, forced retirement or discharge.

Unemployment was recorded at nearly zero percent, a lie everybody happily and unthinkingly accepted as reality even though there were still a few Americans left who remembered when that figure lost all meaning during the Reagan Administration. The truth, although never spoken of or reported on in the conservative owned media, was that unemployment worldwide was running approximately 32% of all able bodied adults. Ever since the child protection laws were gutted in 1999 as another example of "Big Government's Regulative Intrusion Into Business", the majority of the new laborers were now females between the ages of six and fifteen and their wages averaged less than a dollar an hour. The last exception was in those developed nations where wages were quickly dropping in response to the Global Economy's wholesale exodus for countries with cheap and expendable labor pools. The vast majority of the world's production had already moved to the poorest of the Third World nations because all laws could be ignored for the right price and even basic protection for workers or consumers or even their nation's environment was never considered "economically feasible".

One fateful summer's day, a consortium of wealthy investors decided to use their combined financial power to manipulate the value of the American dollar. Using their bogus Wall Street and other financial institutional fronts as a cover, they artificially inflated the price through the speculative trading of billions of American dollars, intending to sell out quickly once their predetermined profit levels had been realized. Tragically, others noticed this movement of dollars and joined in the frenzy, creating a situation where the constant resale of the dollar quickly caused a drop in its value to nearly nothing. Since nearly all forms of wealth were tied to the American dollar, the reverberations of this alarming development shook markets all over the world, causing panic selling and profit taking, quickly bringing down the value of all currencies and related stocks. The last surviving government agencies, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, soon realized that they were helpless against the falling financial tides. Within days, all of the world's markets were forced to cease trading, causing even more panic. Stocks were then traded illegally through the black markets which had quickly sprung up everywhere, buying and selling shares for less than a penny on the dollar and taking 50% commissions on every transaction.

Soon, the Global Economy began a fast moving melt down. The highest level executives took advantage of the various international laws enabling them to sell their many shares back to their own corporations at whatever the highest value the stocks had sold at in the previous twelve months. This quickly depleted the limited cash funds of these corporations, causing them to be unable to meet their other financial obligations such as inventory expenses, taxes and payrolls. The ripple effect of this inability or outright refusal to pay debts rumbled through the whole world's economies, causing even the few healthy businesses to immediately close their doors in hopes of averting certain bankruptcy.

With hundreds of millions of people now out of work around the world, governments began hastily meeting in hopes of averting the obvious financial and political catastrophes they now faced. Since most governments were still completely owned by the players in the Global Economy, the actions taken were weak and intended only to assist businesses to continue operating in their desired and accustomed fashion. The few remaining citizens of these nations possessing jobs found their taxes greatly increased in order that massive corporate bailouts could locally be attempted. The very few remaining services and programs left which had any benefit for the middle-class and poor were immediately suspended and their funding transferred to the pool intended for corporate assistance.

Realizing that the population would soon begin expressing their anger at being used to prop up the Global Economy, the governments of the industrialized nations put all of their militaries on high alert. Martial law was announced, the Constitution suspended and strict curfews imposed in the middle-class and poor neighborhoods. Heavily armed military patrols were soon seen cruising through these areas, arresting or simply shooting all who appeared to be gathering into any semblance of a "mob". Military roadblocks were quickly erected around the wealthier suburbs for the protection of the residents and their personal property.

Police forces everywhere were also brought into play, arresting those few who still spoke out against the awesome power of Corporate America and their allies around the world. With the conservative media loudly and constantly calling these Americans "Terrorists", "Dissidents", "Communists" and "Liberals" they were quietly rounded up and placed in hastily erected "isolation" camps far from population centers in order to silence any informative or questioning voices. The media, controlled for decades by ultra-conservative corporations, provided their listeners with their normal constant litany of reassuring talking heads and droning, mindless drivel while intentionally avoiding any mention of the protests, violent rioting, destructive looting and hard liner crack downs by the military to "restore peace" occurring all over the world. The few remaining media outlets who tried to fulfill their responsibility to inform the public found themselves being attacked by their own government, their offices burned or bombed, their employees threatened or killed and all of their publications confiscated as "seditious" and "anti-American" material.

The President of the United States and the leader of the Republican Party appeared on national television asking that everyone remain calm. "The business leaders of the world's corporations have assured us that they have the situation well in hand," they stated. "The government of the United States has full faith in and fully supports the moral and virtuous and righteous actions that the corporate executives around the world are initiating, actions which will lead us all towards even higher levels of moral prosperity and wealth in the weeks ahead. Let us pray.", they added. It was the last statement from a government official to be heard by the public.

Within days, the last remaining physical assets in the world, such as the oil fields of the Middle East and the farmlands of the many nations, became vastly more important than the nation's leaders had previously judged. With the paper currencies around the world now worthless, governments quickly realized that only the true necessities of life had any political significance and must be either protected or, if possible, taken from those weaker than themselves.

War quickly broke out between the major industrialized nations over the petroleum reserves of the Middle East. When the former Soviet Union realized that they no longer had the capability to transport the manpower and equipment needed for a major military engagement, they quickly turned to their remaining stockpile of nuclear weapons with the intention of destroying any other nation's ability to control and extract the oil by introducing lethal radioactivity into the area. Saudi Arabia and Israel responded with retaliatory missile strikes against Russia. Iran, Iraq and Jordan joined in by sending their weapons screaming towards their historical enemy Israel, causing the United States to attack these "terrorist" nations in defense of their ally. Soon, China's leaders realized that they might soon be targeted by America and her allies so they attempted a first strike using their limited supply of nuclear weapons, causing an almost automated defensive response from the NATO alliance towards their lands and cities, as well. Bacterial, chemical and biological weapons were employed, exposing the human immune system to new and virulent viruses and microbes, painfully killing untold millions. Soon, all communications between the leaders of the warring nations and their fleets of nuclear-armed navies and air forces were completely cut off. The commanders of the American forces, not knowing if any further responses were being called for, turned to the "Doomsday Orders" created by the Eisenhower Administration in the early 1950's. These orders called for a continued attack on all designated targets until either the fifty year-old-order was rescinded or the weapon armories depleted. The second option occurred first!

Within weeks of the original financial panic, nearly 98% of all life on land had been exterminated. Life in the sea began to feel the effects of the radioactive and chemical pollutants from the war as the run-off from the rivers and streams, bloated from the melting glaciers and nuclear winter induced radioactive rains, carried the contaminated bodies of hundreds of millions of dead animals and humans into the deltas and bays. As the massive fires caused by the wars continued to burn, sending billions of tons of ash and debris into the upper atmosphere, the scientists who had warned of Nuclear Winter were proven correct, although none were alive to accept credit for their views. Darkness covered the land, killing nearly all plant life and, eventually, all marine creatures.

In a secluded valley deep in the heart of Africa, a small head appeared above the ashes. Looking about in fear and wonder, this small simian slowly stood and began to explore this new, darkened world. Finding a small clump of apple trees that had miraculously been undamaged so far by the holocaust, this small creature sat down to eat. Hearing a small, tentative sound, he turned to see a diminutive female of his kind slowly approaching the grove. The trembling newcomer held out both dirty, sweaty little hands, palms upward in supplication, trying desperately to express her hope that she might have just a small portion of the other's new found wealth. The larger simian, smiling and moving slowly toward this new visitor, stopped just a couple of feet before her. Still smiling, he quickly raised the rock he had hidden behind his back and brought it crashing down on the head of the visitor. After smashing the smaller creature's skull over and over to insure her death, the first one then slowly shuffled back to his treasure trove and, smiling, once again began devouring the last of Earth's fruit.

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Copyright 5/3/98