The Day the Dollar Died (Part XIII)
XIII. Paper, Plastic, Paper, Plastic
Filed under: The Day The Dollar Died Series
by John Galt
January 20, 2010
The following section is of course FICTION….
February 25, 2010 09:05 A.M. Eastern Time
The crash of the small trinket my wife used to decorate the cocktail table caused her to come rushing into the room screaming, “What did you break in there and why?” Before my heart could take another beat, I showed her the cover letter which I had just read and told her in a firm voice, “They knew. The damned fools knew all along this would happen. They duped all of us with their lies, their fictional financial television shows and lies on the evening news. The evil bastards have been planning this all along!” My wonderful wife of so many years started to cry. Her tears shined on her tired face in the light of the lamp in the living room as she took the broken pieces of her Chinese trinket into the kitchen to dispose of the shattered glass and finish cooking breakfast. I realized that instead of focusing on this pile of government garbage in front of me and the letter from the President that it was time to lower the stress levels and spend a moment with her, to reassure her now more than ever as things appeared to be spiraling out of control.
“James, can you give us a minute please,” I asked my old friend and neighbor who nodded and replied, “Sure, I’ll just go into the bathroom and clean up if you don’t mind.” I walked into the kitchen and put my hands on her shoulders clenching her tightly and whispering to her, “I am sorry sorry sweetheart. I should never have left you alone last night. You are so strong, I just figured you would want to know what was going on in the world.” She leaned her head against my hand to wipe the tears away and said, “I was so scared. There were men in black uniforms with guns. They really peppered me with questions. I’m so sorry I told them we owned a gun. I figured they knew already. It’s my fault our door is all painted up like that. I’m so sorry honey.” This outburst of emotion took me by surprise for a minute and I just wanted to hold her like the old days and make all of this go away. “Baby, I promise to try to keep calm,” I whispered to her, “I figured they knew about the shotgun already. I am just worried about James. He should not have lied to them, they are not playing games.”
Before I could say another word, she started to set up the plates with bacon, eggs and to my surprise some grits she knew that I loved with the cheddar cheese melted into it with real butter. As she finished the last plate I gave her a big hug and kiss and told her, “I love you.” She just hugged me back then, with an devious grin, yelled out “Breakfast is ready toilet rat!” James was walking down the hallway by then in his usual goofy, sarcastic stride and just had to reply to her, “Next time, I won’t spray! Where’s supper? I’m famished after guarding two houses all night!” We all just cracked up laughing as we sat down to enjoy what seemed like a normal meal as I regaled them with stories about ham operators, shortwave radio news and what the rest of the world was saying about this nightmare we were living.
As we finished our meal and poured the last of the coffee the power flickered again and went out, once again. As my wife started to stuff the meat back into the freezer to try to save what little fresh meat we had left, someone started knocking loudly on the door at precisely ten o’clock. “I’ve got it honey,” I yelled as I put my coffee cup down and walked to the peep hole in the front door. As I peered through the whole a man was holding a Sarasota County Sheriff’s office badge up where I could see it and I yelled out, “What can we do for your officer?” The voice on the other side replied “Captain Martin with the Sarasota Sheriff’s office with Captain Oden of the Homeland Guard and Kalyn Louisa Andersen of the Office of Emergency Services. We’ve been sent to interview and review your Emergency Packet left in your mailbox last night that hopefully you have had time to review.”
As each official took their turn flashing credentials into the peephole and stepping back I figured I had best speak up since my front door was splattered with what I guess was confidential personal information inviting thugs to break into my home, “Sirs and Ma’am, before I open this door, I just want you to know that my firearm is secured in the bedroom and not in the room with me when I open the door.” The two officers thanked me and as I opened the door, they snapped the holsters closed on their sidearms and proceeded to thank me for going slow. As they entered into the home, James looked at the three of them and started to open his mouth when Captain Oden spoke up and said, “Sir, please leave the premises. We have questions for you and we will be next door to your home within the hour.” James nodded sheepishly and waved goodbye as he hurried out the door to go home, with two more men in black uniforms holding shotguns watched his every move.
“Who are those two guys on the sidewalk?”, I asked Captain Martin, somewhat bewildered by this show of force. He paused for a second and replied, “Those two? They used to be my men but signed up for the HSA Emergency Officers program in November of last year. Heck, we lost have the force to snappier uniforms, better pay and benefits and fewer restrictions. Sir, if you don’t mind we would like to sit down as Captain Oden and I have a few questions for you before we head next door to your neighbor.” My wife was peering out of the kitchen and started to turn around to finish cleaning the dishes when Captain Oden spoke up and said, “You too Ma’am. We need to speak to the two of you together.” Horrified, she nodded and sat down beside me as I motioned them into the chairs in our living room. Captain Martin started the questions with a stunner: “Sir, did you knowingly violate the curfew restrictions by not staying in your home after the eight o’clock deadline?” I started to reply, parsing my words carefully, “I was not out in public from eight at night until eight in the morning. I was at a friend’s house helping him board his home up and playing some poker as he was going to leave town today.” I knew that was an outright lie, but I was ready for the next question as James did in fact go down the street and board up a home that the owners left practically wide open as they were in Tennessee when all of this started. The Captain continued, “Sir, that was not the question. The law is quite specific about being inside YOUR home by eight p.m. every evening and not allowed to depart your home again until eight in the morning. Do you have the address of the home you stayed at last night please?” I acted cooperative as I gave him the address and then told the officer, “But he said they were leaving early this morning, I guess they just left town a few hours ago.” Captain Martin looked into my eyes and said “That’s no problem, they have to pass through five checkpoints on the interstate and local roads before they are allowed to leave the Western District. If they have already passed through the northern border posts will verify your story.”
Captain Oden sat there quietly and professionally waiting on Captain Martin to finish. Captain Martin was busy keying some information into a computer tablet device then handed me a printout that was spit out of the top of, like some sort of new ticket form. “Sir,” he began, “This is the one and only warning notice you will receive. Because you have returned home and have an understanding that the curfew law is quite specific now, you will understand that any further violations will be met with the full force of the law up to and including imprisonment for said violation. Please place your thumb on the print pad here and press hard.” Nodding, I obeyed like a whipped puppy dog, pressed my thumb on the pad and suddenly a light appeared and my thumbprint was on a LCD screen right in front of me, with the printed copy of the warning. “The thumbprint serves as your signature from this point forward. You will use your index finger for financial transactions, thumbprint for legal proceedings. I’m sure you will get around to reading that in your packet before the day is over,” Captain Martin said, almost biting his lip it would appear. “Yes sir, I understand sir,” was all I could say. At that point in time I felt the need to speak up, “So what is with that horrific X on my door telling everyone in the world, good or bad, that I own a gun?”
Oden stood up, almost to preach and began to explain what it meant, “Sir, that is a marking placed on homes when were not sure if the occupants were there or not or if further investigation was needed. Because your wife was next door at the time we were able to ascertain some, but not all of the information we need. First, do you have the shotgun available for inspection, unloaded of course please.” I motioned to my wife and she went down the hallway to get it out of the bedroom. “Sir, the X is as follows,” he continued, “the top portion is the date, right side if known gun owner or not and if not a question mark would be there, the bottom portion indicates zero casualties but one known resident at this time, and the left side is the HSA unit that carried out the inspection. Any home that was empty last night received a visit like this as they placed the packages into the mailboxes in this region with the help of the postal service.” Captain Oden took the firearm, scanned the bar code on the butt of the weapon, then asked for my thumbprint on the pad of his device. I had to ask, “What is this for?” The Captain did not hesitate, “Registration as per Executive Order 99917.02.19 per the United States Department of Homeland Security. You will now be registered as the only lawful owner of this firearm and your thumbprint will be needed at any range you wish to practice at or to purchase ammunition at any retailer.”
I sat down as he handed the weapon to me. I then passed it to my wife who was shaking by this time, “Please lock this up honey,” I told her in a low, subdued voice. “So what can I do for you, Captain Oden besides the weapon?” I asked now exhausted from the past twenty four hours and deeply concerned about this black uniformed gentleman who seemed to be pleased with himself and his work. The Captain sat back down in the chair, crossing his legs in a very casual manner and asked a very pointed question, “How much do you know about your neighbor James and his family sir?” I was taken aback by this question but recovered quickly trying to take the offensive, “I’ve known him for years, he’s a good family man. Is he in trouble?” Oden leaned back and said firmly, “He could be. I can not prove it but I think he lied to one of my officers last night. We show in our records that he owns two firearms purchased in 1997 and 2004. Yet he tells my officers that he has none. Are you aware if he still has those weapons in his possession?” At this point in time, I was getting agitated with this clown but bit my tongue and told him, “To be honest, I do not track what he does with his belongings, but I think he sold them last year since he has been out of work for eight months now.” Captain Oden nodded as if to believe what I said then shocked me by making one of those offers you only hear about in the movies, “Well, if you find out otherwise or hear of any other neighbors with unregistered firearms the government is offering one thousand domestic dollars to be added to your card along with a lifting of ration restrictions on your purchase allowance for thirty days. If you report more than one, they are even giving away weekends at Disney World at one of their premium resorts, all expenses paid for three nights for your family. The government believes the most dangerous threat to the safety of its citizens at this point are fringe elements who wish to disrupt the transition to a new currency to satisfy the Geneva Treaty.” My shoulders slumped as we had crossed the Rubicon in my mind and I could almost hear my heart breaking. “If I hear anything, I’ll try to let you know Captain. But how do I make a phone call with the power going off and on and the cell network down?”, I asked in a frustrated voice.
“911 works fine, if you had paid attention to the Public Service Announcements you would have heard that,” the Captain replied in a snotty voice. I nodded, not pleased, but feeling a need to reply, “Well, if you had left the internet up and functioning for all of us along with the utilities on a regular basis, we might have caught that PSA. We’ve been lucky to have anything beyond spotty reception on our television and radios with stations going off and on the air and the cable plus internet being out on a regular basis.” He shrugged his shoulders and before we could start trading barbs with each other the thirty something professionally dressed woman dressed like a Saturday real estate huckster decided to speak up, “John, I believe that’s what your name is, my name is Kalyn Louisa Andersen with the Office of Emergency Services Regional Transition team and I would like a chance to spend some time with you and your wife reviewing the emergency packet I see you have opened up and placed on your table here. Isn’t that letter from President Obama just wonderful? The news about this winding down soon is so good and we can all be thankful that the prior administration had the foresight to prepare for this contingency over a year ago.” I had heard enough and decided to interrupt to offer my guests the door when Captain Martin defused the situation by saying, “Oden and I will be leaving now to go next door. Ms. Andersen if you need us we’ll be next door and the escorts are on the sidewalk.”
Kalyn replied, “I doubt that I will need them, these are just ordinary folks like me who need some guidance.” My wife glared with that look that only a wife could give and if she could have sliced the bureaucrat in half with lasers from her eye sockets, well, that discussion would be over before it started. My wife then fired off, “What makes you think we need help? Do we look like retards or something?” Kalyn looked somewhat uncomfortable at that point in time as the two law enforcement officers shut the door behind themselves and my honey was glaring at her with the pissed off wife look I know oh so well. “Ma’am, I was not inferring that, not in the least,” she started, “I am here to activate your D-Cards so you can use your bank accounts, access your retirement accounts and start shopping to get America moving again.”
“Honey,” I asked her, almost begging as she walked back into the kitchen, “where are you going?” The angry wife syndrome took over the conversation now as she yelled back, “I’m putting the rest of the dishes into the sink. Do not say, start or sign anything without me being in there!” I glanced over at Kalyn who looked like a frustrated office worker shoved into the field making sales calls for the first time in her life when I heard her sigh and start putting a lap top and another device similar to the HSA’s reader. “What’s that device Ms. Andersen?”, I asked. Kalyn spoke up, “You can call me Kalyn please and that is our D-Card activator and reader where we will get the two of you logged into the system and ready to return to work.” I looked at her with this stunned look and broke the news to her, “I’m unemployed now. My boss burned his building to the ground and killed himself. My wife has not returned to work because we have no idea if it is safe or not for her to be on the streets, much less if there is any work to do when she gets back there.” Kalyn nodded and said with great enthusiasm, “Oh goody! Here you go Ma’am!” She reached into her portfolio and handed her a sticker with a flag that said “I WENT BACK TO WORK FOR AMERICA” on it and then she started her sales pitch, “If anyone spots you wearing this sticker and dials 611, then you get ten extra dollars into your account as a bonus for encouraging people to start America working again. Monday is National Return to Work day and every business with five or more employees that show up for work gets a bonus for each employee. This crisis is subsiding with each person we get set up with their D-Card and each storefront that opens up. If you look inside your packet, you will see the current ration system for this district and which stores you are permitted to shop in. If you receive enough bonus points, the rations list can be expanded for other purchases, especially if you help notify the local police or Homeland Guard about the criminal element like cash hoarders, tax cheats and people who hide or possess unregistered firearms.”
I thought I was going to vomit. “Ms. Andersen”, I began, “I don’t have a job. There will be very little work with all of the banks closed. As a civil engineer without a company to return to and the legal ability to travel I presume, just how in the world do you expect us to make ends meet?” That bubbly stupid look that only a government employee can give you filled up her face and she started to rant again, “Oh John, you don’t mind me calling you that I hope? You see once you have your D-Card on file I can process your resume, your unemployment benefits request, and automatically process a loan from the Federal Emergency Benefits Department which will insure that you can survive and that your creditors will leave you alone while you get back on your feet. Knowing that your are a civil engineer helps a lot as the USRA needs engineers desperately everywhere in the country and the projects will be no more than two hundred miles from your home. “Uh, just what is the USRA?”, I asked like an idiot knowing I would get an absurd answer which would cause my head to explode. “Why that is the United States Reconstruction Agency,” Kalyn replied, “President Obama created this agency about a month ago just in case we needed to bypass the Congress and get the emergency infrastructure repairs our nation desperately needs.”
My mouth must have been catching flies and other flying insects by now as my jaw felt like it was hanging around my knees. I started to speak but before I could say one word, she interrupted me, “I know a lot of what is going on is a huge shock, but now that communications have been standardized nationwide, you can tune your television to via antenna or cable channels 2, 3, 15, 16, 17 or 30 for continuing updates and information from Radio and Television America and the internet should return to normal by Saturday with http://www.recovery.gov becoming the primary web portal for all residents of the United States. There will be plenty of locations there that can answer all of your questions and quite probably find you a job fairly quickly!” That perky look really needed to be smacked of her face but with two goons in black uniforms carrying twelve gauge shotguns my wife and I knew better.
Kalyn then started the sales pitch again, “So you don’t have to wait in line on Sunday at the fairgrounds, which I think will have over five thousand people in line if you ask me, please open the blue envelopes with your names on them in the packet on your table and each of you please get your D-Cards out so we can begin the process.” I opened the envelope and saw this snazzy card with no numbers on it, a signature box, two magnetic strips, and a large green eagle with a weird green shield marked “OEC” in red. I handed the card to Kalyn and she swiped the bottom strip then said, if you would please, lean back and I’m going to take a picture for the database and then get your fingerprint.” I did not smile as the picture was taken nor did my wife and like good little sheep we pressed our fingers on the fingerprint pad and as we finished she swiped the cards again afterward this time using the other magnetic strip. “There, all done, no big deal,” she smiled and then said, “Sir, if you would please look at this and confirm that this is your bank account number and the last reported balance we can open your account access up again starting on Sunday, February twenty-eighth at six in the morning. The banks will be open for computerized transactions using the D-Card but it will be at least another sixty days before they open for normal business processes.” I nodded at the account information on the screen as did my wife and then pressed my index finger on the pad as a confirmation signature. “Your account has now been transferred from the bank formerly known as Regions over to the new unified Bank of America of Southwest Florida which covers every county from Manatee to Monroe and will allow you fee free service in those areas,” she said now with a very businesslike tone,”and you can read further instructions within the packet on page one seventy two. I hope everything works out for the two of you as we are now beyond the initial crisis phase and should soon be recovering and starting the nation back to work by Monday. Do either of you have any questions?”
I glanced over at my wife who concerned me that she was torn between using mace or a taser on this obnoxious woman, so I decided to speak up and asked, “Kalyn, when can we go to the grocery store in our area?” She glanced down at her laptop and keyed in our address and zip code then replied, “Your shopping days are Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. You are so lucky as fresh meat is delivered only on Tuesdays now so that means you’ll get first choice if you are there when the stores open at nine in the morning.” I thanked her, told her that pretty much was it and she packed her equipment back into her bag. “Oh, and if you go to page one ninety-six, the web page and instructions for getting a USB D-Card reader for your PC are included. That will allow you to conduct online banking and purchase goods online without a pesky third party,” she paused then looked down at her tablet like device to add, “and in your case transfer unemployment account funds to your bank account up to seventy two hours before the normal payment date for a very small fee plus your daily income tax charge.” That was the straw that broke my wife’s back and she piped up, “DAILY INCOME TAX? Are you people insane?” Kalyn zipped her bag shut and said, “Oh, it’s no big deal. We just take your annual return from last year, compute a projected daily earnings average, and deduct it from your account with each transaction using a formula created by our experts in the Treasury Department so this way your employer doesn’t have to worry about a payroll tax. The taxes are a little higher now but that’s because we had to increase them by seven percent across the board per the Geneva agreement. I hope you have a nice day and here’s my card if you need to call the office or have any further questions. Bye now!”
She headed for the door and my wife was oh so happy to glare at her as she walked out. Slamming the front door violently, my wife looked at me and started to yell, “These people are idiots! Just how in the hell are we going to make ends meet? We get these stupid plastic cards and something like three hundred pieces of paper to sort through to make sure we comply with laws we didn’t even get a vote or voice in creating! Who the hell do these people think they are?” I looked her in the eyes and was feeling my blood pressure start to pick up as I told her, “They think they are our masters. I fear that many people are going to have a different method of voting against this new program. And the goons they brought over today are just a sample of how I think they plan to do it. I’m going to start reading all of this honey, I’ll put the parts that I have read into a different stack so you can read it later. Why don’t you go grab some sleep?”
My exhausted wife, emotionally spent, madder than a wet hen and chomping at the bit replied, “Sleep like hell. I’m going to try to get online or listen to them on the radio to find out what these creeps are up to. I don’t think I’m looking forward to returning to work and I wonder just how the heck we are going to deal with these idiots when they can’t run a nation and now they are running our banks and our lives. This is not going to end well, not well at all.”