Excerpt from a satirical novel entitled “One Percent Solution.”
The economic exodus from city to jungle which afflicted the planet was actually a worldwide phenomena that started decades earlier in a nation-state down south with the introduction of an innovative wealth-distribution policy called “Dribble-Down Theory.”
Many public initiatives on the Blue Planet made grandiose claims and had grandiloquent names intended to obfuscate the plan’s true purpose, like the “Coalition for Moral Choice,” whose true intent was to prohibit any choices the Coalition deemed morally inappropriate; or “FreedomTalks,” which endeavored to shove a gag down Freedom’s throat the instant she opened her mouth; or the “Worker’s Rights Alliance,” whose underlying goal was ensuring that workers had no rights at all. But Dribble-Down Theory was different. Unlike the other deceptively-named initiatives, which lacked the virtuous certitude that what they were doing was worthy, and were therefore obligated to shroud their cause with a heavy coat of false propriety, the aptly-named Dribble-Down Theory, or DDT, as it was often called, was refreshingly clear and concise, in that it did exactly what its name implied, and worked precisely as it was purported to do.
The only part about the name that was perhaps a bit misleading was calling it a “Theory,” since, in fact, similar economic policies for wealth distribution had already been successfully employed by the kings and queens and robber barons of yore. So anyone with a basic knowledge of history should certainly have known that the propitious plan for distributing wealth to the rich was not really a Theory at all, since it had already been shown to definitely work for several thousand years. Perhaps the theory part had more to do with whom the plan was supposed to work for this time.
The DDT plan was, as so many good plans are, exceedingly simple: Pour the vast wealth of the nation into the hands of an elite few at the top, let them invest that wealth in speculative, supposedly job-creating ventures, without limitation or control, and then eventually, over time, sooner or later, bit by bit, drop by drop, a tiny trickling portion of that wealth will eventually “dribble down” to the masses of people below—hence the apropos name.
Why the masses of people in the middle or bottom of the pyramidal economic heap agreed to such a trickling, trifling proposal is unclear, but to the credit and vision of those who so arduously promoted the scheme, the initiative delivered exactly as they had promised.
And so, over the decades that followed, those who had energetically backed the plan, along with everyone else in the middle and bottom, got exactly what they had asked for—an economic “dribble”—defined as something which “falls or flows in intermittent drops.” No doubt about it, the plan worked precisely as intended. As evermore of the nation’s wealth was lavished into the hands of the rich at the top, the rest of the people—the vast majority of society—got intermittent drops.
Success! Bravo! Well done! Kudos to all. Dribble-Down Theory works! It is no longer a theory at all.
Owing to the plan’s brilliant success, the economic policies of Dribble-Down Theory were subsequently and enthusiastically adopted by wealthy powerful elites up north, and elsewhere around the globe. And so, over time, drop by drop, just as the plan had promised, the wealth of nations was steadily concentrated into the powerful hands of fewer and fewer people. True to their word, this handful of Alpha elites, this “One Percent,” as they came to be called, invested that prodigious wealth into a variety of speculative ventures—some smart, some daft, many exceedingly convoluted and obtuse—but all with the intended effect of producing buckets of wealth at the top, which, in turn, could be poured back onto the pinnacle of the economic heap, thus yielding a few dribbling drops to those below.
Occasionally, resulting from either bad luck or providential design, depending on whom you asked, but never the fault of any particular person, especially the esteemed One Percent at the top, one or more of these vacuous ventures would inexplicably implode, drying up much of the planet’s DDT liquidity, and threatening a collapse of the economic system upon which Dribble-Down Theory was founded.
As everyone knows, for DDT to work effectively there needs to be a torrent of treasure lavished onto the top, because without flooding on the summit there are no intermittent drops. And without drops dribbling down, well, obviously, you no longer have DDT, and that simply will not do. Therefore, when these periodic, inexplicable economic bubbles burst and bust, through no fault of anyone’s doing, the governments of several nations, under the pressure and guidance of the elite One Percent, and using the nation and its people as collateral, interceded in the distributive plan to turn on the spigot again, thus showering the country’s borrowed wealth back onto the zenith once more.
But this time things would be different. This time the Alpha elites would not foolishly allow that precious new liquidity to dribble down to the lower levels of the economic heap, where the money was sure to be squandered by common simpletons who merely bought the things that they needed, rather than investing in them like the rich do. And so the elite One Percent kept for themselves all of the nation’s borrowed wealth, and generously reinvested that money in ever-greater, more-speculative, exceedingly-vacuous ventures, thus perpetuating the sanctified Dribble-Down system, albeit now without the dribble-down part.
And on and on it went like this for decades, concentrating evermore of the planet’s wealth and resources into the hands of fewer and fewer still, in what came to be called the “One Percent Solution.”
Unfortunately, though, despite the esteemed One Percent’s rapacious efforts and princely intentions to fuel the world’s economy by investing their prodigious wealth into job-creating ventures like building palatine mansions, mega-yachts, and private-jet planes, sadly, the unfortunate reality was that no matter how hard they tried—and no can say they didn’t try; no one can fault them for that—the fact remained that the One Percent were simply not able to conspicuously consume as much stuff, and in as wide a variety, as all the rest of the planet’s people combined.
And so, despite their impressively gluttonous efforts to consume all that the ninety-nine percent once did, inevitably the task was too great, even for the indomitable One Percent, and the intermittent dribbling drops became increasingly intermittent. As fewer drops dribbled down to the masses, those people gradually stopped doing their part to fuel the world’s economy, like buying food, shelter, and clothing. And although the One Percent valiantly tried to buy more things than they needed—more things than they even wanted or could possibly use—in a valorous attempt to make up for the economic slack caused by the worthless masses, or “slackers,” as the One Percent more commonly called them, ultimately the heavy burden of having to consume all that they could all the time, proved to be too moiling even for the glorious One Percent. And so, inevitably, intermittent drops ceased dribbling down and finally dried up altogether. Factories closed and shuttered their doors, production lines fell silent, and exiguous jobs became even scarcer still.
In times of plenty Princes leave for Paupers crumbs of worth; in times of want Princes leave for Paupers only dearth. And so it was on the Blue Planet, too. As decade upon decade passed, the wealth of nations was consolidated into ever fewer hands until most of the nation’s riches was held by one-tenth of one percent of the people, now simply referred to as “Ones,” since a whole percentage point was no longer accurate.
Working for and supporting this itty-bitty group of Ones was a group of professional people called “Pros.” These were the doctors, lawyers, teachers, bourgeois merchants, military, and clergy too, who supplied the various goods and services that were in demand by the Ones, and who, on very rare occasions, even rose to become Ones themselves, through connections, corruption, ruthlessness, or marriage. The Pros jealously guarded their vaunted position from the mass of other people—from the “slackers” who made up 90% of the population—knowing that: “There, but for the grace of Ones, go I.”
Expunged from the world’s dog-eat-dog, dribble-down economic system, and shoved to the fringe of the pack, the slackers were left to scrounge and fight for scraps, were abandoned, cast off and cast out, were relegated to society’s economic trash-heap where they fought and gnawed over the meager morsels discarded by the Ones and Pros.
And lest the Pros ever forget how tenuous their vaunted position really was, and how fortunate they were to have it, and how thankful they better be to keep it, visible reminders of what life looked like on the next rung down the economic ladder were kept prominently displayed all around. And so it was not uncommon to find a swanky little town like Bellapraia, comprised of Ones and Pros, abutting up against a squalid, dilapidated shantytown like City of God, comprised only of dispossessed slackers. Should any Pros ever waver in their unflagging enthusiasm for supporting the Ones, they too would soon find themselves suddenly cast out into the brutal jungle of slackers.
Through this combustible world the astronomer Sofia now wandered…