The Spending Camps
I had the dream again. They came. They took me. I tried to scream, but no sound would come from my open throat. Cold terror froze every muscle in my body.
They gave me money. They took me to a deserted metropolis.
The whole dead city was a mall, circumscribed by sonic barriers. Everyone was shopping, and spending money, and they all had dead eyes. My captors left me there.
There were no restrooms. The Infrastructure Team had diverted restroom-earmarked funds to the new “R” US store.
Miles of shelves held junk. Complete crap. All of it made here. We had to make it here. We were a colony.
China had all the real money. The Chinese dumped our T-bills, and our trillion-dollar notes wouldn’t buy gum. The old money all was confiscated and destroyed.
Our new money was SBUX, good only in spending camps.
The supply of SBUX, or “spending bucks,” was unlimited. SBUX could only be spent. There was no way to save them, and there was no credit. Whatever people wanted to buy, they went to an SBUX machine and withdrew enough SBUX. They could do this as often as they wished.
The only restriction was that SBUX could not be hoarded. The money had to be spent. If anyone was caught with extra SBUX, they were never seen again, not even in spending camp. Future value would never again be ascribed to money. Money was for spending.
I thought in my dream how strange it was that money would be called SBUX. That, of course, is the ticker symbol for Starbucks. But in my dream, Starbucks no longer existed. Good coffee had come even to Seattle.
Even though there was good coffee to buy, people did not want to go to the spending camps. They knew the camps were an insane farce. Spending police took them in the night and dumped them there. Most people who were taken to spending camps were never seen anywhere else again. They became dead-eyed, spent money, and shopped.
Spending camp prisoners had to buy food or they would starve. They had to buy water, coffee, and clothing. They had been taken away to the camps in their sleep. There was nothing to do in the spending camps but shop. No one worked. The stores were all automated.
I don’t know where the stuff came from that people bought in spending camp. In my dream, I am always too terrified to ask questions. Maybe robots made it, or maybe workers somewhere, outside the camp.
If a person who had a job was seized and taken to spending camp, an unemployed person was given his job. Soon there was no unemployment. When the balance shifted again, and more people became unemployed, more people were taken to spending camp.
I did have a sense that there were no taxes. People bought things and this kept the spending camp going. People spent money and the camp supplied goods. It was just a crazy, circular thing.
Because there were no taxes, there was no accountability. No one knew who, if anyone, ran the spending camps. People bought what the camps sold. The nation was now called The Economy. The Economy solicted no input.
We have a rule against talking about the news within an hour of going to bed. But still the nightmare recurs. Sometimes, it leaves me so shaken when I wake up, that I am not sure whether I am truly awake.