Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything and if you’re really interested I could go on and on about a couple months of family illnesses, but at this point, it would just feel like whining. So instead I’ll talk about something else.
As a federal employee in a safety-related profession, privatization is usually something on my mind…as something to guard against. Despite what “Corporate America” might have people think, I believe, on average, federal employees give good value for the taxpayer money. Too many times, nations have privatized safety-related professions and seen a degraded level of safety and service and end up paying more for less. Contracting out Flight Service here in the United States has proven to be more costly, in terms of money, and definitely in terms of safety and service…not only to pilots, but also to air traffic controllers.
Last month, I was able to read a book called The Unincorporated Man written by Dani & Eytan Kollin, their first, and hopefully, not their last offering. The premise is that, in the future, every individual is incorporated at birth, with the government holding 5% of the stock, parents 20%, and corporations and individuals owning the rest. Your “stockholders” can make you take certain jobs to get a decent return on their money, and it’s a shock for the protagonist (a billionaire who underwent a cryogenic procedure 300 years prior) to find that society has changed so much that the idea of being unincorporated, as he is, is anathema to many. If someone wants to disappear, “stockholders” can track you down.
Today I found out about the contest at Wired magazine to locate writer Evan Ratliff (sidenote: Ratliff was my great-grandmother’s maiden name; I wonder if he’s distantly related). It made me think again about The Unincorporated Man, how much of our living is able to be tracked digitally and how such a contest could not take place in the imagined (but not out of the realm of possibility) future of that book.
I could wax poetic about it all, but it sure seems to me that if we go overboard on the whole “privatization” mindset, it’s really not too far a jump to privatize or incorporate individuals. And the sad part is, I could see people voluntarily giving up their personal liberties to go that route. Read the book.