This Christmas week there are no meek left to inherit the earth. They have all been eaten by others of inestimable worth. There was an economic demographic consisting of people who came out of large companies with substantial assets and borrowing power, but they were eliminated by the phenomenon known as franchising. What will they do, the wealthy few, with no one left to serve them? Technology, thanks be to God, provided robotics that have no vote and require no wage, and that play sweet music while working.
There are no more franchises in business. The dramatic shift in demographics and economics removed all justification for anyone to own or operate or invest in any franchise system. All the customer profiles of every formerly franchised business, including churches, no longer walk the earth. Based upon what people invested in back in 2005, one would have expected a plethora of morons to invest in the franchising phenomenon just as it was about to collapse, wasting their last breaths in complaining about having been ripped off by scoundrels that should have been controlled by a benevolent government in some macabre parens patriae gesture. The last generations of franchisees were the luckiest, as they were spared the frustration of dying with assets. Relying upon historic reports of store performance made in various trade magazines, in one dimensional due diligence, they totally ignored the reports in the public press about the reduction in populations that in the main their potential customers would have belonged to. FranWads to the core! To be sure, many earlier generations of franchisees died broke, but this last group could at least have spent their money on fine wine and willing women.
The IFA, recognizing the inevitable, sought refuge in a merger with BlueMauMau, and Don Sniegowski became president for life of the combined organization. It devolved into a holocaust museum of franchising, including its own wailing wall inscribed with the names of thousands upon thousands of financially disemboweled FranWads. It also had its own halls of fame and of shame with the names of those folks similarly inscribed. It continued to seek contributions to its FranPac program just in case another era brought back franchising for another population in the future. Paul Steinberg, prominent New York City attorney, was the last chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and signed the revocation order eliminating the FTC Franchise Rule. The last franchise transaction that anyone can recall occurred on the television program “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader”. The master of ceremonies, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, gave away a formerly well known donut franchise as the prize for correctly answering a fourth grade geography question – “In what state did Colonel Harlan Sanders lick the fingers of a very sick child who had just thrown up a fried gizzard?”
Amongst other panaceas, it was the answer to the impending penury of Medicare and Medicaid. The poor have disappeared. And the old are only the wealthy old, all of whom self insure. The economics of all this has not turned out to be as felicitous as the PTB (Powers That Be) had hoped. There have to be large numbers for the law of large numbers to work. The demise of the working class eliminated the requisite masses. The cascading impact of that eliminates not only the principles upon which insurance depends, but also the financial products that insurance revenues enabled. Intangibles are ceasing to be a business from which magic produced everything from savings accounts to derivatives. Suddenly, everything is asset based, and the only markets available for the large asset investment produced products are the remaining wealthy few. There is almost no longer a services business served by humans, so the working class, no longer wage paid, is not there to buy anything. Resort must be had to target ROI pricing – remember General Motors? No? Oh yes - that was so long ago, wasn’t it. Well, the story of it must lie in some long unused library somewhere.
As all market forces tend eventually to equilibrate, production diminished to serve the extant demand pool. Little is produced, and that is extremely expensive. The enormous food surplus produced from the advent of robotic workforces eliminated farming as it was once known. As little food is required, much of the land was allowed to go back to its former wild state, save only for that which was too toxic to sustain any manner of life. The earth began to return to a wild state, and the almost total absence of bovine flatulence gradually reduced climate deterioration. Everything is no longer powered by fossil fuel, There is no longer an Exxon-Mobil or a Royal Dutch Shell. With no markets for their petroleum, the Arabs returned to their wild state and eventually eliminated each other. Without financial markets to be manipulated, no one needed Jews any longer, and eventually the few remaining intermarried with wealthy Protestants, and Toynbee’s fossilized remnant of an ancient post Syriac interregnum simply disappeared. God hardly noticed.
There are rare exceptions. There are some human requirements that simply cannot be met by robots. Mostly these are things that spring only from creative human juices, things like fine art and fine wine. There remains some limited farming that produces the comestibles enjoyed by people of means but there are no more cowboys. Santa Gertrudis cattle still roam the King Ranch in Texas, but are herded by remotely controlled robots. The special genetically engineered hamburger bulls cherished by the big hamburger chains are no more. If you have dental issues that impinge upon your ability to chew meat, you have to grind prime cuts to the point at which the results of neglecting your periodontal health are accommodated.
The elimination of the demand for mid range good drinking wine left an enormous glut of Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet that was picked up by opportunistic buyers like the infamous Seamus Muldoon for pennies on the dollar. Ken Wright Pinot Noir was sold off at about $ 20 a case, which tells you what happened to Stag’s Leap Artemis meritage and similar mid range bottlings. Today Muldoon still has on hand at least 1,000 bottles of Darioush Cabernet and similar inventories of phenomenally delicious cuvees resting in his cave. He can hardly remember the last time he opened a bottle of French wine, but remains yet loyal to the top ranges of Nero D’Avola Regaleali that he became addicted to while watching Tony Soprano reruns.
To be sure, all this didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen at the same pace everywhere. One may easily appreciate that the most populated countries did not rid themselves of their workers at the same pace as the old industrial societies. Even though, for example, China was a comparatively autocratic society that effectuated its policies by mandate, it had 1.8 billion people, 99 % of whom were workers, and most of them essentially agrarian or common laborers. Had not the Communist party back in the 20th Century imposed strict birth control, the Chinese government would have simply collapsed in the attempt to adopt a regimen that would euthanize most of its workforce in a relatively short span of time. The effort had to be disguised as a loosening of Communist autocratic doctrines to facilitate access to capitalistic wealth attainment. The notion that any Communist might own his own brand new automobile, for example, was certain to make old line Commies roll over in their graves. The embracing of these apparently liberating policies was not seen to be the harbinger of the unbelievable phenomenon of Chinese under population. Who could in his wildest hallucinations have believed that China would become park like and unpolluted? The technology that seemed to be leading the Chinese out of dictatorship and closed economic policies would, unimaginably, lead to the removal of social, political and economic institutions requisite to the proper management of their enormous society. As America reverted to a plutocracy supported by machines, China returned to a Mandarin society also supported by machines.
In India the job of depopulation was a bit harder, as India had at the end of the Raj decided upon a democratic model. The impact of this was that India was very late on birth control and continued to be overpopulated, surpassing China’s 1.8 billion population sometime between 2010 and 2020. India’s population growth began to slow only as women became educated and elected to work outside the home and defer parenthood, a much slower process than China’s. India went from calling its hoards of starving uneducated people a burden to referring to them as its human capital at the turn of the century. Having chosen English as its lingua franca of commerce and politics, and imposed the teaching of English in all its schools, India made itself the outsourcing heaven of the English speaking world, especially in service activity that could be conducted from anywhere so long as it was conducted in English. By 2009, for example, no American could call a 1-800 number for customer service from any company on earth without being connected to a fulfillment person in India, usually in the region around Hyderabad and Pune. One could posit that at this writing India still has not completed the elimination of its population to fit the current plutocratic model. Notwithstanding the trend, however, the best selling literature in India and in most of the now known world remains the Kama Sutra. Kama Sutra and birth control have completely displaced football baseball and soccer. Fornication, as the religious fanatics amongst us used to call it, is now the favorite sport of everyone. No longer do people from places like Arkansas think that cundalini is an Italian noodle dish.
In the process of reordering certain parts of the earth through confrontation rather than through euthanasia and government planning effectuated through food additives that made conception impossible amongst those who were the principal consumers of the indicated comestibles, there were thermonuclear exchanges, mainly in the Middle East. But for that the earth’s opportunity ultimately to reorder itself would have progressed rapidly and naturally. There are, consequently, areas that will be neither habitable nor visitable for at least a millennium. The radioactive footprint was, thankfully, confined to land areas, so there was minimal impact upon seas and oceans. The irony is that was the biblical Garden of Eden is permanently walled off from humanity. Many see that as a manifestation of divine condescension toward those whose vision of humanity’s future is inconsistent with traditional biblical imperatives. Geneticists predict that with highly restricted reproductive opportunities amongst only the plutocratic few, it will not be long before everyone begins to look like the former inhabitants of West Virginia, Arkansas and East Texas. Mental acuity is also thought to be at risk due to the absence of genetic diversity, and the process of erosion of overall healthiness and vitality would, but for the absence of the requisite customer population, have led to a resurgence of franchising.
The franchise lawyer Richard A. Solomon, whose writings at the early 21st century sought to reduce the FranWad population, enjoys even less popularity now than he did when small business investment morons roamed the earth. Formerly living about 75 miles from the Texas Gulf Coast, he now has a boat dock 50 feet from his front door due to global warming, and can be heard loudly laughing and singing as his mind begins to erode due to age and excessive celebration. Thanks to effective pharmaceuticals, however, his sexual enjoyment has not slackened, and his girlfriend, now 102 years old, remains yet ever ready to jump his bones.
Although he laments the disappearance of franchising, he maintains a decent lifestyle selling old logo tee shirts depicting extinct humanoids stuffing their faces with fried chicken and similar mass distribution victuals handed to them through drive up windows, grease dripping and delicious. His chocolate flavored cholesterol Christmas candy is considered an exquisite delicacy amongst those old folks who still remember the good old days when cardiac arrest was a popular gastronomic crapshoot.
There is a museum of quaint franchise agreement clauses incomprehensible to anyone under 35 years of age. Some people believe that these archaic covenants must be remnants of some long lost religion. Professor Doctor Chaim Zu Zu Yankelovsky of the Harvard Divinity School, a renowned expert on ancient Zoroastrian esoterica and custodian of the museum, claims that these always imperative paragraphs were once the codex of a cruel oligarchic organization that was devoted to separating people from their wealth through the practice of promising either more wealth for signing the documents of which they were a part or possession of 72 virgins for the mere act of blowing one’s self up in the presence of people standing in long lines waiting for government distributions of largesse.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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