Kids You Can Be Proud Of, Guaranteed

Oct. 9, 2162
OSLO–Foundlings Inc., the Norwegian subsidiary of Fertility Services International, today began offering clients the ability to ensure that their children will make them proud. The company allows parents to select from a roster of LifeStories for their children, including careerpaths, financial success, social popularity, and even political affiliations and voting records.[p]
“Other companies have tried to offer genealogical tailoring, but they have operated on a ‘genetic engineering’ model, selling genetic traits,” explains company VP Ecker Eerin. “But that’s not what our customers care about. Does Little Johnny have blue eyes or brown eyes? I really don’t care. Frankly I find eugenics services like that morally offensive. What I want to know is that Johnny is going to have a happy and fulfilling life. That’s what we give our customers.”

The service works by exploiting detailed biographical profiles of the future lives of yet un-conceived children. Customers fill out descriptions of the lives and lifestyles they would like for their children and company computers search databases of future biographical profiles for matches with the right sort of life and an imminent conception date. Company salespeople then contract with the parents of the child, purchasing rights to the desired child and securing an agreement that they forbear from having a child for a variable period of from 2-3 years. The customer is then fertilized with a prefabricated egg bearing the genetic signature of the desired child.”

“Rather than getting for our clients individual genetic traits they request-traits which are really just a proxy for the success every parent wants for her child-we are in the business of acquiring fulfilling lives for their children,” notes head of research Vender Little. “The ‘traits’ and ‘eugenics’ people have really misjudged the market, forcing parents to make morally repugnant decisions just in the hopes that the ‘traits’ they pick will have positive consequences for their children. They focus narrowly on the ‘nature’ side of the equation, when what parents want is the outcome of a successful ‘nurture.’ By looking into the future and seeing what sort of people these kids will eventually be, we can guarantee that our customers will be proud parents for the lifetime of their children.”

The company’s services, though, are not without their detractors. Economic Justice Front press releases point out that Foundlings’ clients are chiefly the rich, and the ‘successful’ children they buy come almost exclusively from parents of lesser means.

“Parents must make their own value-maximizing decisions,” explains U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust economist Purvis Exel. “For some, that will mean selling the rights to a child destined to rise above her circumstances. But we make those sorts of calculations all of the time. Families need to be able to choose what’s more important, some money now, paid by Foundlings, or the happiness and financial success of the next generation. At the same time, it’s not a zero-sum game. Parents who sell the rights to a ‘successful’ child can still have an even more successful child later on. Nothing prevents that in the individual case. Still, on average, if the service is popular it will tend to ossify class lines, with the poor selling to the rich children whose success would otherwise increase the incidence of class mobility.”

It is no surprise that Antitrust regulators worldwide have taken an interest in the company, as it works in close partnership with Futurefeedforward, the giant research and financial services multi-national who supplies Foundlings with the future biographical profiles on which the service depends. “We’re looking at this closely,” notes Exel. “We want to be sure that Futurefeedforward isn’t using its dominance of the futuredata industry to control other emerging industries.”

Home-Jailing More Popular than Home-Schooling

Feb. 23, 2056
WASHINGTON DC–For the first time since the controversial practice of home-jailing was introduced some 15 years ago, the number of American households electing to house a convicted felon has surpassed the number choosing to home-school their children. U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials point to the numbers and declare home-jailing initiatives an unqualified success. Detractors, including a broad coalition of current and former prisoners, civil-rights activists and members of the threatened Prison Guards of America and U.S. Prison Workers unions, continue to protest the program even as it moves into its 16th and what may be its most profitable year.

“We simply applied the principles of network decentralization to what appeared to be an insoluble problem,” explained Bureau Chief Madeline Fender. “We needed more and more prison space, but at a certain point, the marginal costs of adding a new cell to these huge complexes simply outweighed what it cost society to leave felons on the street. That’s the economic reality, but the political reality was that we couldn’t let these people out; so we came up with a novel solution which turned our liabilities into assets.”

Bureau officials quickly discovered a healthy demand for prisoners once the private sector stepped forward with fairly low-cost jailing facilities that could be installed in a small spare-room or walk-in closet using simple household tools. In fact, officials point to the phenomenal economic success of companies serving home-jailers as a beneficial collateral effect of the program. “Not only did we keep felons off the street and satisfy the desires of many Americans to take responsibility for some of the less fortunate among us, but we also started an entirely new industry that’s growing by leaps and bounds.”

Critics of the program typically point to the more outrageous of the products offered to home-jailers, including some of the colorful outfits and hats sold for home-prisoners. “It’s just not appropriate to allow these sorts of dress-up activities,” declares a prominent coalition spokesman. “I mean, look at these outfits: PonyZilla, My Little Walrus. These are kids shows; these costumes are being marketed to kids. There’s no reason that a grown person, felon or not, should be treated like a dress-up doll by the kids just because Mommy and Daddy have a home-prisoner.”

Social scientists disagree about the reasons for the popularity of home-jailing. While most dismiss Prison Bureau claims that home-jailers are motivated by a desire to fulfill their civic responsibilities, few can agree on what leads people to want to take a prisoner into their homes. Columbia sociologist M. Leigh Jamish points to a social void in contemporary life that home-jailing does something to fill: “The past sixty or seventy years have seen a fairly quick and widespread homogenization of world cultures. Only a few generations ago, it was fairly easy to visit a place, or encounter a person who differed from you. Now, it’s not so easy. And home-jailing seems, to me, to be a way for families to experience a proxy for that kind of social and cultural difference, but in an environment over which they have total control.”

Incidents of abuse and escape have been fewer than even optimistic officials expected. That may in part be due to the pre-screening most home-jailers must pass before taking custody of prisoners. “Not only do we make sure that these people have the means and equipment to support a prisoner, but we also offer in-depth training programs, including thorough courses on how to effectively use restraints, how to prepare the ‘prison food’ that the prisoners expect, and how to set up a system of rewards, privileges, and punishments to maintain prisoner discipline,” explains Monty Frost, director of Home-Jailers’ Education at the Prison Bureau. “We’re proud of the preparation we provide. They leave here with everything they need to keep a secure, healthy, and compliant felon in their homes.”

Strom Thurmond Cannot Die: Immortality a Reality

Oct. 21, 2188
AIKEN SC–Former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond today emerged from more than 180 years in hiding and revealed that, according to his staff of personal physicians, he is the first human to permanently defeat death. For more than a century Senator Thurmond has lived secreted in a hyperbarric, orgone-accumulating subterranean greenhouse buried beneath the Russell Senate Building in Washington DC.

“I drank out of this big hamster-like bottle,” joked the wiry Senator. “I drew the line at having those woodchips on the floor, though.”

His medical team reported through a spokeswoman that the treatment had aimed both to halt the aging process, and to restore some degree of fitness and mental competence to the then centenarian. “In Strom we arrested the aging process by, for the first time, eliminating the shortening of the telomeres in each of his cells. Cancerous cells achieve a perverse and hyperactive immortality through the same mechanism. We, essentially, transformed Strom into a large cancer with the shape and qualities of a human being.”

When asked by reporters why he had waited until now to come forward, Senator Thurmond cited concerns about giving false hopes to his many admirers and former constituents: “When I left public life, I left on a high note, at the top of my game. I was loved. I think I might have been bigger than those Beatles. I didn’t want to tease people by sayin’ now I might live forever. You might never lose me. And then not be able to follow through.”

Several public health and advocacy groups have voiced concern over the treatment Senator Thurmond received. At a recent public hearing, Local Health Coven #32 director Agnes Bar demanded a public accounting of the funds used to support Senator Thurmond’s extraordinary and lengthy treatment. “Some sources have told us that the funding came out of the NSA budget. And why aren’t the doctors identified? They seem only to speak collectively through a PR representative. It sounds like they are the same doctors that started his treatment. At least they talk that way. If so we suspect that they have been giving themselves the experimental treatment as well. That’s not good medicine.”

It may not be good science either. Prominent science and research organizations have universally criticized the methodology of the long-secret experiment. The team’s information gathering and safety protocols seem to have been particularly lax. Often Senator Thurmond was sustained in his automatic environment for decades at a time with neither close monitoring nor human contact.

Thurmond’s doctors acknowledge the shortcomings of the experiment, but point to the results for justification: “Senator Thurmond now tests significantly higher on a range of physical and intelligence tests, and psychometric indicators of his mental stability have improved by orders of magnitude.”

What did the Senator do to occupy his years in recuperative solitude? “I did some light readin’. There was room for my library of old Sears & Roebuck catalogs. I never get tired of reading them. If I got bored I’d flip through my collection of lynchin’ photos. And the Bible too. I also had some movies. Mostly Charlton Heston. Ben Hur, I love that movie.”

Crime Does Pay: GDP Revised to Include Property Crime

Jan. 2, 2045
WASHINGTON DC–Officials at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the Department of Commerce responsible for calculating Gross Domestic Product, a measure of economic activity, recently decided to include the value of all property crimes in the important measurement. Minutes of December meetings among executive officials reveal that key members of the Bureau had reached a broad consensus on the inclusion of the figures, which are quite high and, after revision of calculations of GDP for past years, reveal a staggering growth rate in the past 40 years.

Harvard economics professor W. Earnest Peak explained at a recent advisors meeting that “property crime-chiefly theft, but also graft, bribery, and embezzlement-should be viewed as services akin to those offered by professionals in the legal, medical, and psychotherapeutic industries.”

It seems that property crime, when calculated as a component of GDP, offers a particularly great boost because the service involved, while fairly risky to practitioners, has a particularly high rate of return, dwarfing even the fat margins enjoyed by software conglomerates. Property crime, as an industry, also enjoys a low barrier-to-entry. Though not everyone can easily engage in high-level political graft, the average, young entrepreneur can begin snatching purses, and executing home invasion burglaries with a nearly insignificant initial capital outlay.

While the inclusion of property crime values in revised calculations of historical GDP has shown a much greater rate of growth over recent decades than was previously thought, it has also radically altered views of historic, non-inflationary growth during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The widely venerated leadership of long-time U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is cast in a different light.

While economists have historically credited Chairman Greenspan with facilitating a sustainable, non-inflationary growth rate significantly higher than was thought conventionally possible, they now recognize that the concurrent and precipitous decline in property crime rates was what permitted the apparently impossibly high growth rates. “What we thought was very high growth was actually, in context, pretty tame,” noted a Commerce Department spokesman. ” Inflation was kept under control because of the collapse of the crime industry nation-wide.”

No administration official will go on the record calling for an increase in theft to stimulate the economy, but most acknowledge privately that they are doing what they can to ensure that graft and bribery rates remain high. Barring a groundswell in grassroots shoplifting and petty theft, however, the activities of a few officials can do little by themselves to resuscitate the economy. “Let’s hope for a good Christmas season; there’s always lots to steal around the holidays,” offered an unnamed Commerce attorney participating in the decision.