Robert Shepherd wrote this and I hope he doesn’t mind me repost ing it:
Let Freedom Trickle
Were Kurt Vonnegut not in heaven now, if he were still among his fellow great apes, he might tell a tale something like this:
The year was 2030 and there was a grit crisis.
Not that people weren’t warning about this way back in 2014. Some few visionaries saw the crisis coming. Secretary of Education Privatization Arne “Dunkin” Duncan had let the country know in no uncertain terms, way back then, that Amerika, Inc., was in trouble. If it didn’t do something to stop those lazy, shiftless teachers and kids in Topeka and Jacksonville from being failures, Singapore was going to throw the whole country to the mat, stomp on its rib cage, buy up its MacDonald’s franchises, and replace its Walmarts with Singaemporiums.
The Common Core Curriculum Commissariat and Ministry of Truth–CCCCMiniTru for short–had tried to stave off the disaster. It had really tried.
It had fired all the teachers for underperformance and replaced them with nifty “personalized” software from Gates.Murdoch Pearson Knowlogy, Inc. (Company motto: “Teaching, there’s an app for that”). It had hooked up all the kids to retinal scanners and galvanic skin response monitors to measure their gritfulness in real time as they did their identically personalized worksheets on a screen. It had installed headphones to blast into kids’ ears Barry Sadler’s “Song of the Green Beret” and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir cover of “Everything Is Beautiful” whenever their gritfulness fell below proficiency level 3 point 86. Kids would do anything to avoid those.
From their gleaming, floating offshore cities—West Xanadu, Elysium, Redmond, and Shangri-La LA—the 0.1 percent dispatched drones to monitor the general population for terrorist activities such as spending too little on consumer goods and failing to show up on time to their meager and part-time but nonetheless essential service jobs, assigned to them by Gates/Murdoch Kelly Temp Services, the sole employer of proles. Everyone, young and old alike, was rigorously tested every 23 point 4 minutes to ensure proper understanding and performance of whatever task he or she happened to be engaged in—nail polishing, going to the bathroom, preparing Happy Meals—whatever.
To no avail. Sure, people (well, proles) were doing what they were supposed to do–they were going through the motions at the required pace. And they were hitting their grit benchmarks. The Fair and Balanced Good News of well-met production quotas for grit, along with other key production metrics, was continually broadcast from every wall and street corner by Gates/Murdoch Fox state television, and if you missed those reports, you could always check the running ticker on your Gates/Murdoch Google Glass and Retinal Scanner.
But weirdly, nothing quite worked. Everything the proles produced, though to specification, was shoddy. Things fell apart. STUFF–the essential output of Consumer Homo Economicus–was produced with grit but not, it seemed, with True Grit. Whatever could the Plutocrats and their windup politicians do?
Fortunately, Walmart Pharmaceuticals and Neurological Engineering had a solution: Freedom Juice, piped into people’s heads via ports installed in the back of their skulls. Gates/Murdoch Goldman Citi Merrill Chase Bank of Amerika, Inc arranged a loan from the Singaporeans to install the necessary infrastructure. Soon, a network of piping covered the entire country and, and one tendril of a pipe led to the back of the head of every student and worker at every desk.
What could go wrong?