Friday, March 18, 2016
[WP] You were given the keys to a multi-billion dollar company. Upon your first day running the company, you find out the old ceo had started a confidential intelligence agency, and is planning on eliminating the current government in order to take control.
I eased my ass into the hand stitched Corinthian leather of the big man's swivel chair. It creaked luxuriously as the stuffing sighed in ridiculously expensive ways.
"Susan, cancel my first appointment," I said to the empty office. "Sir, She's already here," said my executive assistant via the intercom. the mikes in the ceiling were part of the voice-activated executive control system my predecessor had installed. Start your sentence with a name and the system patched you through.
My first appointment wasn't for another two hours. What the hell?
The door opened without a knock and she walked right up and sat on the edge of my desk like an Ayn Rand heroine. I half-expected her to light a cigarette.
"As your chief of security there are some pending projects that require your attention."
I looked at her.
"Sir," she added. If I could bottle her brand of insolent-yet-official sarcasm I'd make another billion dollars.
"Megan, I have some urgent issues which--" I began
"As urgent as the elimination of our current government? A coup your predecessor has been engineering for the last twenty years?"
"Megan," I said but didn't have anywhere to go with it.
From nowhere she produced a few neatly folded papers from her exquisitely tailored bespoike gabardine wool jacket and handed them to me. She may as well have pointed a gun at me. Even from this distance, I recognized the large open scrawl of my predecessor whose unexpected heart attack had provided me with my opportunity.
I took the pages and began to read.
I cannot know who you are because if you are reading this I am unexpectedly dead. Megan can be trusted to not have made copies but I won't have to urge you to destroy this letter once you've read it. I needn't add that Megan will watch you do this. She's loyal to a fault on account of her high functioning psychopathy. An asset for your chief of security, yes?
Our government is not hopelessly corrupt but we can do better. At first my plans will cause a significant amount of acute urban renewal but 25 years after our planned coup our nation will be the most effective organization of humans on earth. Megan will present the details to you immediately once you've read this letter.
You'll need to divert a lot of company funds. Megan is also the chief of my confidential internal intelligence agency. Black ops cost cash. Blame any problems the accountants raise on me, don't worry, I can take it.
One more thing. After you know the facts, write a letter like this.
There are no accidents.
I looked up to see Megan had activated the metal blinds and turned on the projector.
I sat back and began to watch the show. Absentmindedly, I tore the letter into tiny pieces and started eating.
As I chewed, Megan started the presentation. The first slide was confusing. It was a map. Of the continental United States but the state lines were all wrong.
“Where is power? Is it in a building? The barrel of a gun? Donaldson knew that power is in people and wherever people concentrate their effort, you find power.”
I realized what I was looking at, those were economic lines. Concentrations of wealth and population and technology on both coasts with ominous vacancies in the middle excepting Denver, Colorado and Dallas, Texas.
“Nations and nation building are 19th century ideals. Donaldson saw that while our great nation has an army, Economically speaking it’s stateless corporations and city states where the real power rests today. The world is in a state of political devolution. If the United States is to maintain its supremacy it cannot continue to be fettered by its current regulatory and institutional framework.”
“So Donaldson wanted to overthrow our duly elected and appointed government because Singapore is looking good right now?”
“Donaldson wanted the best for this country. He was a patriot. He understood that modern technology puts the means of production in the hands of anyone with more than space between their ears. I can buy a paperweight online and turn it into the lower receiver port of an assault rifle in my living room. I can rapidly prototype parts in my kitchen for a new faucet and have the first shipment from China in two weeks on my doorstep. The encroachments on my freedom which I assented to were made under duress and the threat of physical violence. I was born into a system of unfairness and I did not get to decide if I wanted to play by their rules,” she said. As if she was reading a stock price off the back of the New York Times not plotting anarcho-capitalist revolt.
I stared at her.
Megan continued. “I never got to choose which freedoms I gave up and which I got in return. Donaldson showed me how I could get my freedom back.”
“So you two had a plan?”
“We have a plan.”
Then I realized she was pointing her gloved finger at me. When had she put on gloves?
“So tell me the rest of the plan.” I said. The leather felt cold and clammy under me. I tried to suppress a shiver.
“First we crash the economy.”
“How are we going to do that?”
“It’s already happening. We have an extensive global intelligence’s network. We’ve been accelerating and intensifying the fluctuations in the U.S. Stock market for decades. You think the current upswing is a recovery? It’s a bubble and it will burst. Dotcoms, Housing, we didn’t have to cause problems, the problems are endemic to the system. The boat is going to capsize eventually, we’re just giving it a push so when it goes over, we’ll be ready to leave and swim for shore.”
She was right about that, all I had to do was open a newspaper or a search engine and I knew she was right. I just couldn’t believe anyone, even someone as smart as Donaldson, was crazy enough to try and cause even more volatility in an already volatile market.
“So why hasn’t it worked if you’ve been pushing for so long?”
“We didn’t count on the President bailing out the mortgage companies and then the banks but he won’t be around much longer and we would prefer weak leadership at the top for our plans. Obama is too tough, he’s a former teacher. It’s not his brains or his vision that’s lacking, it’s his determination to work with the existing system. It’s like forcing yourself to ride a bicycle with flat tires.”
“So once the economy crashes, what happens next?”
“We use our spies to lobby the government for increasingly intolerable regulation of the economy and later industry.”
“That sounds like a totalitarian state!”
“It is. We want to make it terribly uncomfortable to do business.”
“Megan, that doesn’t make any sense. People won’t stand for it.”
“No, they won’t, but we need to increase the general unhappiness to prepare the people. We’ve already slashed real salaries, and encouraged so-called capitalists to hoard their fiat cash. You want to know the biggest scam in the world? It’s cash.”
“But we need money,” I said.
“Cash is a scam, money is not.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked, my chair did not feel quite so cold when she wasn’t pointing at me.
“Money is a decision,” she said. “Donaldson understood that whoever has the power to make decisions has money. Cash is just ersatz money, it’s not the real thing.”
“So after you’ve crippled the economy, shackled industry and detonated salaries and I assume social security then what?”
“Are you in?”
She walked toward me, the projector light framed her face and torso in shades of red and blue. Boom towns and ghost towns. The new face of liberty.
“Yes.” I said.
The safety on her tiny pistol clicked on.
“The pistol wasn’t necessary,” I said.
“I don’t care,” she said as she walked past me.
“So what next?”
“Next we cripple basic services. Through lobbying and bribes we degrade service to the point that paying for special treatment isn’t just an option, but a necessity.”
“Like clean water and sanitation?”
“Also roads, postal services, the electrical grid, school funding, internet, mobile phone carriers, starting with the airlines. We have a comprehensive network of agents in companies and the civil service moving our stability operations forward.”
I shook my head.
“You’re causing misery to millions.”
“So their children will live free.”
“So what happens when schools start failing? What about those kids?”
“If our system of government cared about education, it wouldn’t spend so little on it. We hardly had to do anything on that front.”
“I suppose you’re behind the anti-vaxxers too?”
“If those fools respected natural science they wouldn’t be so gullible, all it took was one fabricated experiment to jump start that bandwagon.”
“So where do I fit in?”
“Donaldson was a charismatic leader, he knew how to talk to people to make them want to join the cause. You’re his replacement.”
“Why don’t you do it yourself?”
“I am brusque to the point of rudeness and I do not moderate my terms. I alienate people.”
“So why did you have Donaldson killed?”
She walked back around my desk. Her eyes drew level with mine. Her tongue darted out and moistened her lips.
“Donaldson was 70 years old.”
“So, he wouldn’t live long enough to complete this phase of the plan, is that it?”
“I determined the revolution needs a young face. Your face.”
“You recruited me, didn’t you? It wasn’t Donaldson.”
“From a shortlist of those I determined would be at least somewhat sympathetic to my claims. Yes.”
“About your political leanings? Of course. I know the name of your first grade public school teacher. Mrs Baxter.”
“You know everything about me.”
I nodded. Megan turned away, her body under the business suit rippled the fabric; summer weight, excellent cut, made to measure.
You could hardly see the holstered pistol.
She shut off the projector and turned on the lights. I blinked in the sudden brightness.
“Here, sign these.”
I took the papers from her.
“What are they?”
“Need to know.”
I nodded. It was usual to meet the boss the first day on the job but this time I thought I’d be the one being met.
“Sir,” it was Susan on the intercom, “You have a meeting with the members of the board.”
I turned to Megan who nodded.
“Thank you Susan.” I handed back the signed orders. Millions were being funneled from the firm. How Megan had gotten away with it so far was beyond me.
“Does the board know?”
Megan shook her head.
“How can I keep this from them?”
“You’ll think of something, boss” she said as she pushed through the door. It sighed softly as it swung back on hydraulically dampened hinges and clicked, almost inaudibly, shut. Just like Megan’s pistol.