U.S. a Monopoly, Breakup Decreed

June 7, 2059
WASHINGTON DC–Federal District Judge Lydia Peezer today handed down her much-anticipated Final Judgment in the landmark U.S. v. U.S. anti-trust case. As widely expected, Judge Peezer endorsed the Department of Justice’s complex divestiture plan, calling for the country to be divided into three independent geographic regions, each consisting of four autonomous “operational units.”

Speaking from the bench and citing the Findings of Fact she issued in the case last November, Judge Peezer declared that the “[United States] Federal Government has consistently abused its monopoly control of U.S. currency to the detriment of consumers, both foreign and domestic.” The 132-page Memorandum of Final Judgment cited in particular an earlier finding that U.S. control of worldwide wealth amounted to “monopoly power through market dominance,” and that the U.S. had abused that power by eliminating capital flows to competitive countries and industries.

“The U.S. has a long history of politically motivated spending internationally,” explains Edgard Tree, Director of FRONT, an international coalition of governments and non-governmental organizations. “There are better, more efficient governments and ideologies out there that get stifled because of U. S. control of international capital. New ideas can’t get any backing unless the U.S. approves, and nobody dares to break ranks for fear of retaliation.”

Analysts identify two key turning points in the three-year-old case: the emergence last year of a “smoking gun” report, and the evasive testimony of Senate Majority Leader Freddie Prinze Jr. The report in question, issued by the U. S. NSA, identified “transnational ‘gypsy,’ nomadic, and ‘open source’ social organizations” as the “most tangible present threat to U.S. political hegemony” and called for associated U. S. agencies to “cut off their air supply” by isolating the “vagrants” from world financial markets.

The complex divestiture plan calls for division of the U. S. into three new sponsored jurisdictions, the Microsoft Northwest, the GE Seaboard, and Enron MiddleAmerica. Governmental power in each region is further to be segregated into four units, each with independent representational structures and taxing powers. The four “operational units” include a Division of Labor and Correctional Services, an Inter-Non-Governmental Regularization and Exchange Bureau, a Ministry of Consumers, and an Intellectual Property Preservation Trust. At the time of the decree, Judge Peezer issued a stay halting divestiture pending appeals review of the decision.

Mainstream critics of the decision point to its impact on the “separation of powers” written into the U. S. Constitution. “What this decision seems to say is that the courts have the power to rewrite the Constitution,” exclaims DNC Chair Arthur Pile. “This is judicial activism of the worst sort.”

Others identify U. S. corporate interests behind the decision. “The ‘judicial activism’ thing is a red herring,” explains Julie Priest, director of the U.N. Project on Corporate Sovereignty. “It’s really more a question of executive pacifism. Why is it that the President is permitting the Justice Department to pursue a case like this? Well, Microsoft has been pushing this thing from the beginning, including unprecedented spending during the last election cycle. The break-up plan gives those guys what they’ve always wanted: their own country.”

U. S. citizens with questions concerning the divestiture should direct them to the Transition Office at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington DC.

Anna Kournikova Deleted by Memeright Trusted System

Dec. 6, 2067
JAKARTA–Local officials today confirmed that celebrity guru Anna Kournikova died on Wednesday from injuries sustained when a satellite designed to protect intellectual property rights attempted to ‘delete’ her. “Ms. Kournikova was apparently struck by a powerful, focused beam of microwaves, and died almost instantly,” noted Detective J. Sini of the Jakarta Police. “Our current understanding is that this beam issued from one of the MEMEye satellites and that it was an unfortunate accident. We offer our sympathy to her families and followers.”

The MEMEye system, activated only last year by international media industry group MPRIAA, is a network of Low Earth Orbit satellites designed to “police traffic in non-digital goods which infringe the memerights of our member artists, producers, and rights owners.” The individual satellites, in conjunction with MPRIAA computers, monitor all public activity within their field of view, searching for ‘knock-off’ products. When the system locates a potentially infringing object, it attempts to query a special chip embedded in protected products. If it receives an inadequate response, the satellite uses a “surgically focused beam” to “delete” the infringing object.

MPRIAA spokesman Ray Insult explains: “Knock-off and pirated products cost designers and artists billions in lost revenues each year. MEMEye protects artists from having their work stolen. Sure, I could still buy a knock-off Mickey, but, as soon as I take it out in public, thhhhht, it’s gone. That re-balances the market, giving legitimately licensed products a clear value edge over knock-offs.”

Kournikova, a member of MPRIAA, had registered to use the system to protect rights in her likeness, including its use in action figures, stuffed dolls, and animatronic facsimiles. “We’ve had quite a problem with people selling dolls and figurines that look like Anna without paying the licensing fee,” notes Kournikova’s agent Mercedes Tick. “[MPRIAA] assured us MEMEye was safe.”

“In the case of the protection of likeness rights, we take special measures to ensure the safety of our members, but we rely on their cooperation,” explains MPRIAA Head of Engineering Eric Themo. “Each member with likeness protection is injected with a subcutaneous chip that informs MEMEye that they are not an infringing likeness. The chip, in effect, gives them a license to use their own likeness, but, when we configure the chip, we depend on the member to give us information about what sort of license they need. I suspect that Ms. Kournikova’s license was not configured to permit her use of her likeness in the Asia/Pacific Zone. It would have been a simple matter for us to reconfigure her license for that Zone, if she’d only told us of her travel plans.”

Critics of MPRIAA and MEMEye have been quick to point to Kournikova’s death as a symptom of the excessive protections rights-holders enjoy under current laws. “Memeright law is so restrictive now that it permits rights-holders, with the help of a private industry group, to punish themselves for violating their own rights,” opines Open Meme Initiative founder Phil Pour. “If that doesn’t tell you how much lockjaw the law has imposed on the public domain, I don’t know what would.”

“We are aware of the criticisms,” responds MPRIAA’s Insult, “and in designing MEMEye we made a conscious choice to continue to permit use of infringing goods in exclusively private spaces. If a kid draws a picture of Mickey at home, and the folks put it up on the fridge, MEMEye won’t do anything about that. It doesn’t look into your home. It doesn’t look through the roofs of buildings. By limiting MEMEye in this way, we protect the legitimate private-use rights of meme users everywhere.”

Money a Waste, Economists Conclude

Sept. 21, 2084
WASHINGTON DC–A special research committee convened by the U. S. Treasury Department, and including officials and economists from the General Accounting Office and Federal Reserve Board, released on Thursday its “Final Report on the Role of Money in the Economy,” concluding that “money is currently the single greatest source of inefficiency in the exchange of services and goods,” and recommending that Congress “take steps to phase out the public use of the U. S. Dollar.” U. S. Treasury Secretary Frieda Bootle welcomed the report, and simultaneously announced a proposed 23 step phase-out schedule for the beloved currency: “We’re pleased that the Committee has come to the same conclusion that a number of us have reached privately in recent years, and we’re prepared to take concrete steps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the U. S. economy.”

Pointing to recent developments in valuation, bargaining, and proxy technologies, the Committee concluded that “alternatives of considerably greater efficiency and lesser transaction costs” could save a dollar-less economy up to 14.7 trillion dollars annually, including the costs of maintaining dollar-oriented accounting and financial systems. Discussing the potential savings, Secretary Bootle noted that “it is not entirely specious to say that, by eliminating the dollar, we will be saving, on an annual basis, the total number of dollars exchanged in a given year.”

The majority of the currency alternatives cited by the Committee are based on a computational technology known as an “eigenutil.” Eigenutils are dynamic, compressed descriptions of individual “utility functions” the function which translates an individual’s needs and desires into comparative valuations of the goods and services offered in the marketplace. Because eigenutils are computationally describable, they can be easily exchanged and compared over computer networks, enabling frictionless barter transactions of unprecedented complexity and efficiency.

“Money was always a dumb technology,” exclaims MIT economist Professor Jessup Hare. “A useful technology, but a dumb one nevertheless. An eigenutil economy is orders of magnitude more subtle in its ability to capture and fulfill the needs of actors in a market. Translating my needs into a dollar figure was always reductive. Sure, it was easier than bartering at every step, but that increased efficiency came at the cost. With eigenutils, we no longer have to make that trade-off.”

Using eigenutils, bartering bots and software proxies can automatically and efficiently negotiate the direct exchange of goods, including value exchanges between employers and employees. Instead of receiving money in exchange for labor, employees will, likely, receive a negotiated bundle of goods and services, which she can in turn barter for others in the open market.[p]
“At last, all goods in the market will be accurately valued,” notes Professor Hare, “and value will flow freely throughout the economy. The real difficulty with money was that it created an inefficient meta-need: the need for money itself. Resources were often expended solely for the purpose of accumulating money, which, in itself, is largely worthless.”

Among concerns about the move to a dollar-less economy are objections to the Treasury Department’s proposal to privatize the dollar as part of the phase-out process. “First, let me say that, during this transition period, it makes sense for us to get some value out of the dollar by spinning it off,” explained Secretary Bootle. “And we won’t spin it off until it clearly no longer has monopoly power over the valuation market.”

Additional concerns about the impact of the plan on the consumer savings rate will be addressed by “the development of futures bartering and related transactions,” notes Bootle. “This will be a brave, new economy, fueled by incredible technical solutions. The Fed, for instance, will be able to influence the economy directly by tweaking the eigenutil infrastructure. Once valuation technologies get smarter, so will our policies.”

Toy Uterus Lets Kids Give Birth

May 19, 2018
EL SEGUNDO, CA–Toy and game giant Mattel Inc. today announced the worldwide availability of Baby.I.Birthed.It, a wearable pouch in which kids can grow a range of Mattel-brand biomechanical dolls and pets. “I.Birthed.It is a spin-off accessory to our popular Barbie.Gives.Birth,” notes Mattel spokesperson Randy Doo. “Now kids can share the experience with Barbie. The pouch gets big, just like Barbie.Gives.Birth’s tummy, and, after nine weeks, Barbie has a little baby to take care of, and so does the child.”

Baby.I.Birthed.It consists of a colorful cotton-poly blend “pouch” or “babypack,” with hypoallergenic shoulder straps that hold it in place against the child’s abdomen. A zippered, vinyl-coated sack inside the pouch contains a soup of non-toxic resins and nano-assemblers responsible for growing the Baby and simulating, through control of the density and viscosity of the resin substrate, the changing effects of pregnancy on gait, posture, and center of gravity. I.Feel.My.Baby, a special patch, sold separately and worn on the child’s skin, delivers time-release, child-safe “simulants” that emulate some of the symptoms popularly associated pregnancy, including “morning sickness” and a “healthy glow” in the cheeks and eyes.

“I.Brithed.It is an educational toy, and we’ve taken great care to provide a fun and accurate experience for the kids,” explains Mattel R&D Director Amy Ollie. “Sure, the babypack comes in bright rainbow colors, and is stain-resistant and machine washable, but we’ve also done a lot of work to make sure that things are as anatomically accurate as possible. I’m particularly proud of what we’ve done with the navel.”

After the gestation period, during which the child is able to feel the growing doll moving and kicking, the inner sack is unzipped to reveal a writhing, cooing doll that imprints immediately upon the child’s voice and simulates most of the moods and functions of a three-month-old baby. When the child is done playing with the Baby, the inner sack can digest and reuse the underlying resins with only moderate material loss. Refill packages (sold separately) permit the toy to be reused indefinitely.

“In our initial release, I.Birthed.It only delivers the Mattel Baby,” notes Ollie. “But it’s really a toy birth platform that eventually will deliver products from across the Mattel line, and from our strategic partners. We’re already in talks with Gund to offer a Gund.Bear.I.Birthed.It refill that will grow one of their interactive bears. Our American Girl brand add-on will be released for the holiday season, and we’re currently market-testing a Hotwheels.I.Birthed.It for the boys that grows a fully-functional Hotwheels car with a miniature, biomechanical driver.”

Demand for Baby.I.Birthed.It is reportedly high, driven in part by promotion of the toy in schools as a key part of the Mattel Interactive Curriculum.

Critics of the company point to its history of promoting gender stereotypes through its products. BarbieWatch Director Gil Heamp: “I.Birthed.It is just another in a long line of attempts by Mattel to commodify and monetize the gender stereotypes that persist in American culture. What message are they sending by integrating a simulated experience of childbirth into their curriculum?”

Baby.I.Birthed.It is currently available for purchase through retail outlets worldwide.