The neighborhood was quiet today, as men in pressed, charcoal suits came. It must be November, I said to my neighbor, or some Samaritan had managed to squeeze an initiative onto an early ballot.
It started during a recession, and they'd become common enough we called our economy the old seesaw. Common wisdom was you held onto what you had long enough, the world would find her feet again.
Then the job market collapsed. And collapsed. And collapsed. And collapsed. It got so doctors had to stop practicing medicine, because no one could afford insurance. The government couldn't pay social security any more, let alone subsidize socialized medicine; couldn't afford cab fare into Baltimore. And soon enough the banks wised up, and stopped throwing money at us, and we found out we couldn't live within our own means anymore.
And that's when companies decided to cut out the middle man, and started fronting their own candidates for office, high ranking executives and managers whose financial futures were tied to the company. The straw men and angry idealists proved that in a battle of ideas and dollars, intellectuals were paupers.
The new government's first miracle was convincing the people that horse and sparrow economics (feed the horse enough oats, enough will pass through to feed the sparrow, too) worked- this despite the growing disparity between employee wages and the savings accounts of the wealthy. Their second, and most brilliant stroke, was reducing the pay of elected officials to nothing. It ensured that even if an honest man were accidentally elected to office, he'd have to sell his soul or starve.
And the jobs continued to trickle away. The largest provider of employment, noted in not a single government survey, were the vote buyers. Smarter communities took control of the voting machinery early on; it allowed them to introduce referundums and ballot measures all year round, and kept the market on vote-buying lucrative and steady. Communities that skipped a beat were legislated out of the process entirely. The country's laws became the most business friendly in the world, while its court-system became stacked against consumer advocacy and compensation.
Economists lauded it as capitalism at its purest, the free market controlling the free world. Most citizens didn't have much to say it at all, but on election day, we gathered on the streets with our voter registration card in one hand and the other held out and open.
One of the men ground out his cigarette and looked at my corner, and I raised my sign high in the air, with bright letters painted in ox blood that read: Will Vote For Food.