Featured Book Excerpt

Featured Book Excerpt

Galactic Archives

Robert Anton Wilson
from Schrödinger's Cat

President Hubbard's first step in establishing The RICH Economy was to offer a prize of $50,000 per year to any worker who could design a machine that would replace him or her. When the primate labor unions raised twenty-three varieties of hell about this plan, Hubbard countered by offering $30,000 a year to all other workers replaced by such a machine. The rank-and-file union people fell into conflict immediately, some accepting this as a fine idea (this group consisting mostly of those earning less than twenty thou per annum), and the leaders still hypnotized by the conditioned and domesticated primate reflex that Employment was Good and Unemployment was Bad.

While the unions squabbled among themselves and ceased to present a unified front against the RICH scenario, conservatives mounted a campaign against it on the grounds that it was inflationary. Here Hubbard's political genius showed itself. She made no effort to reason with the intellectual conservatives, who were all theologians in disguise. All corporation heads and other alpha males of the right, however, were invited to a series of White House multimedia presentations on how RICH would work for them.

The chief points in these presentations were that:

  1. a machine works twenty-four hours a day, not eight -- thereby tripling output immediately

  2. machines do not take sick leave

  3. machines are never late for work

  4. machines do not form unions and constantly ask for higher wages and more fringe benefits

  5. machines do not take vacations

  6. machines do not harbor grudges and foul up production in sneaky, undetectable ways

  7. cybernation was advancing every decade, anyway, despite the opposition of unions, government, and these alpha males; it was better to have huge populations celebrating the reward of $30,000 to $50,000 per year for group cleverness than huge populations suffering the humility of welfare

  8. with production rising due to both cybernation and the space-cities, consumers were needed and a society on welfare was a society of very meagre consumers.

The alpha males were still fighting among themselves about whether this was "sound" or not when it squeaked through Congress.

Within a year the first case of the new multi-inventive leisure class appeared. This was a Cherokee Indian named Starhawk, who had been an engine-lathe worker in Tucson. After designing himself out of that job, Starhawk had gone on to learn four other mechanical factory jobs, designed himself out of each, and now had a guaranteed income of $250,000 a year for these feats. He was now devoting himself to painting in the traditional Cherokee style -- which was what he had always wanted to do, back in adolescence, before he learned that he had to work for a living.....

The majority of the unemployed, living comfortably on $30,000 a year, admittedly spent most of their time drinking booze, smoking weed, engaging in primate sexual acrobatics, and watching wall TV.

When moralists complained that this was a subhuman existence, Hubbard answered, "And what kind of existence did they have doing idiot jobs that machines do better?"

Taken from the Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy, by Robert Anton Wilson, 1979.