Energy Blog: World of Tomorrow-2055: World Economies Collapse, Island Escape

In a Climate Changed World: Chapter 5 –  by Andy Silber
Isla del Buitre
August 14th, 2055

islandNice to not have the ground moving. Just because I own a 54-meter fusion powered yacht and I lived on it for a year, doesn’t mean I like being on a boat. In prep school the jocks rowed crew or sailed, but that just wasn’t my thing. It cut into my drinking and partying time. Especially crew with their 5 am practices. Who does that without a court order?
I’ve always been able to time my exits well, whether it was a relationship that was getting too serious or an investment that had been wrung of all of its value. But my timing on leaving America a year ago today will go down in history (if there’s anyone around to write it) as the most perfect of all. I saw the writing on the wall and decided to pull a John Galt. Inflation was 25% in 2023 and when I left in August of 2054 it had already increased to 4% in just that month. The high rate of counterfeiting guaranteed that there was no way to keep inflation in check. It was only a matter of time, probably months, until the US dollar collapsed. That’s the thing about a fiat currency, it only has value because people believe it has value. Once confidence is lost, it’s just paper. So I decided it was time to dump the investment my family had in the US for 5 generations.

The tool company that my great-grandfather had founded and had been the foundation of our family’s wealth, had just signed a contract to supply a critical part for the latest fusion generator design. I let the board of directors know that I was going to retire and, rather than hand off the company to Jerry, my only son who’s worth a pile of wet spit, I wanted to sell it. My son was upset; he had worked at every job in the company, from mailroom to VP of Development. He had an engineering degree and an MBA and led the team that won the fusion contract. He felt he was entitled to inherit the company and was an honorable man, so I didn’t trust him with the truth. He’ll forgive me, I hope. I would have preferred to sell to some private equity firm, but they were all doing what I was, getting out of Dodge. So I sold it to the employees, who thought they were getting a good deal in light of their years of service. Suckers.
In addition to selling the company, I took out loans that were secured by assets of the company. I guess I should have disclosed that before the deal went through, but I’m now on an Island that I own and I’m not going to extradite myself. As I boarded the yacht, I liquidated all of my US assets, so they have nothing to go after through the US courts. Even if they find me, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. Another nice trick I pulled is that I arranged pay my capital gains tax at the end of the year. Of course, I have no intention of doing that. All of my assets went into buying this yacht, the island and building a compound on the island that can house 250 people indefinitely. It’s stocked with food, medicine, weapons, gold, gems. We have solar, wind and fusion power. The water supply is more than enough and the wild boar and fresh fruit will be a nice supplement to our pantry.

island homeIn the time between when I left America and today, things have gotten much worse. Inflation grew to 8% a month after I left. Within 3 months the barter economy was bigger than the cash economy. Credit card companies started charging interest from the date of purchase and it’s not a fixed amount, but the rate of inflation + 2% per month.   Wages are renegotiated on a monthly basis and strikes are becoming common. Why work when the purchasing power of your pay isn’t enough to get you to the office? Retirees saw their life savings become worthless. The stock market was fluctuating wildly, because no one had any idea what a company is worth. Within 6 months the economy collapsed. I don’t mean Great Depression, I mean collapsed. It’s not that people didn’t have enough money: there was no money. It’s not that stocks dropped in value: the stock market closed. And it’s not just the US. Across Europe, Canada, Japan Korea and China the industrial world has ground to a halt.

Hiring staff has been tricky. They have to be loyal. My biggest concern is that some Gilligan will realize there’s no reason to continue to take orders from Thurston Howell III.  Everyone will be here with their families, so they have an impetus to keep things working and not rock the boat. All of the natives were removed when I bought the island, so everyone here owes their safety to me. Hopefully that’s enough.

Three months after I left, my children and their families all received a gift of an all expense paid trip to Venezuela. They thought it was a vacation, but when I met them there they learned that there’s no turning back. There’s nothing left for them back home. I even invited the mother of my children to join us. Her response was that she’d rather starve to death than be stuck on an island with me and my “trophy wife”. I suspect she may get that wish. All alimony payments have stopped and inflation has devalued whatever savings she might have had.

Time for us to start our life away from the chaos of a world falling apart. Maybe someday we’ll be able to rejoin the world. Maybe Jerry will help rebuild it when the time comes. Maybe it will be one of Jerry’s kids. I doubt I’ll ever leave this island, but there are worse places to live out your days. At the moment, it’s hard to imagine any better.

I’m trying something different than my previous blog posts here. Rather than describing current technologies or policy questions or what I think we should do, here I’m delving into speculative fiction: what do I think might be in store for us if we continue on our current path. This is definitely not a best case scenario, but I don’t believe it’s the worst case either. On a scale of 1 (your grandchildren are going to live in a world that resembles “The Road” ) and 10 (Technology will save the day and it’s not too late), I’d probably give this a … now that would be a spoiler. 

I’m writing this in installments in the spirit of Dickens and Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. Unlike them, I’m not a great writer, so I don’t expect to win a Nobel, Pulitzer, Hugo or a Newbery. But maybe this will be made into a mini-series on SyFy. Also, for fans of classic science fiction, I’ve thrown in some references or out-right theft. 

I hope you enjoy the first piece of fiction that I’ve written that wasn’t assigned in school. – Andy Silber