A practical joke sold as a rescue package

from Ed Spencer’s The People’s Republic of Absurdia (out now on Sigmund Fraud Books)

The Life Administration Directive had been one of the first acts of the Liberal Compassionate government, its aim – to provide the necessary provisions for all people and prevent any further deterioration to the environment.

But first things first. Before anything else had happened in The Great Clean-Up of the country and most people’s favourite bit – the apportioning of blame (including but not limited to: bankers in stocks, big business nationalised, the Royals dethroned, gated communities with private militias broken up, the 1%’s assets seized to fund the rebirth of the nation) – the scourge of poverty had had to be addressed. But this wasn’t as easy as it sounded. You couldn’t just go round dumping rations on communities. No no. It had to be properly organised. The country had to be simplified. Easified.

The easifying of existence began with the whole country being divided region by region, city by city, area by area, into alphabetical groups (Surnames A-E was Life Administration Group 1 and so on). Then, to ensure the smooth running of Life Administration another new government body was set up – The National Identity Proof Scheme Department (NIPSD). This department assessed each individual before providing the relevant benefits. To that end, each Citizen had to set up a Citizen’s Account and prove the specifics of their case before they could receive their rations, healthcare and housing.

In order to receive the most bespoke care and benefits, all past afflictions, psychological traumas and abuses had to be confessed. Indeed, every aspect of a Citizen’s existence had to be divulged. All social media posts, likes, comments, email correspondence, phone records, texts and internet browsing history were combed to corroborate the information each Citizen had provided – and to weed out those with questionable pasts. Many a low-level facilitator was ad-judged an arch criminal for selling an eighth of hash here and there. The plethora of personal details held by various private agencies and companies and state-run departments were also collected. Details of every app you’d ever used were gathered and if details emerged of, say, an STD, then your interactions on dating apps were looked at to see who your sexual cohorts had been and then they in turn were checked out and so on. Only once this process was complete was a NIPSD card issued and benefits able to be enjoyed.

In the past such cards had been threatened for reasons ranging from international terrorism to identity theft. Finally, they’d been brought in to set up an elaborate dole.

Granted, a version of the NHS had been brought back after a previous government had privatised it – along with everything else – but Pontiff lamented the day he’d set up his Citizen’s Account. He knew at the time it was a mechanism through which more control could be exercised on the people, the scope of the scheme widened in response to each perceived emergency. What else they were going to do with all this data wasn’t clear. But they had it. As Pontiff often noted, the Facebook age had fucked us all.

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