“So…” began the Fiscal Controller, “we have successfully eradicated the scourge of our times.”
My ears pricked up when I heard this new political spin piece on my car radio. I slowed down a little.
The Scottish tones continued, “We have rid our nation of RISK. Through the sterling work of my Uberagency, the WMCCRB, we will never see those terrible financial scandals that blighted peoples lives ever again.”
I looked quizzically at my co-passenger, The Seer. She knew my question. “Which Magazine Consumer Champion Regulatory Body. You know the one, in the huge tower.”
“Oh yes, Big Brother.”
The Fiscal Controller droned on. “And what the Party has done is to initiate a formal service for victims of illegal RISK. If someone approaches you, comrade, offering you black market RISK, perhaps smuggled into the country, then you must report them using our new hotline. We also have counselling services for RISK victims and a fast-track fully modernised front-line compensation scheme.”
It sounded like another speech written by either MiniSpin or MiniNanny. I switched off. It was a sweltering day.
“I would turn on the air con but you know how it eats petrol and I can’t really afford it. As it is, by the time I get to fill up again, a litre of unleaded will have risen by 10 per cent since the last time.”
“Yes, I suppose so. It’s hard to keep track of inflation these days. Funny how cyclical the world is?”
“I think you’ll find it’s round, rather than cyclical but I know what you mean.”
We drove along the deserted streets of the city. It was a concrete wasteland of towers and blocks.
My passenger pointed up out of her window. “That building was where National Insurance used to be, I used to work there. Oh and there is where UK Pensions Management was.”
“FinServ was a funny business. Passing fad almost. Luckily, the Prime Archbishop of the Brotherhood and MiniNanny cut out that evil blight in time.”
“Luckily?” My passenger was amazed. “It wasn’t luck. It was a brilliant sustained campaign. Your brain circuitry has really been rewired by the never blameful MiniSpin.”
I knew she was right, I think. Somehow, The Seer had evaded the Thought Police.
She continued, “First, the rug was pulled from underneath that evil casino, the stockmarket, by taxation disincentives and insurance solvency regulations. That in turn led to investments falling in value. Pension funds developed more holes than Swiss cheese. There was terrible confusion. Was this decline in investment values due to the markets? Or mismanagement? Well you can guess where the finger was pointed.”
“I think I can.”
“Not that FinServ was entirely blameless but the constant barrage of negative official statements from select committees was much more damaging to confidence.”
My head was spinning with all these conflicts. “What about the FinAdvs army? They were supposed to be rotten to the core. The Party wanted them chopped out of the equation by constricting their remuneration”
“Chopped out, perhaps. Or maybe they realised that without these key links in the supply chain, suppliers and end users would never meet. No FinServs, no risk. No risk, no political egg on face. And that ultimate prize – complete State Dependency. All that was nee-ded for Ultimate Victory was an elegant coup de grace. Compensation. For what, I don’t know. But it was like a neutron bomb going off.”
“Well at least the investors got their money back,”I laughed.
“Some of it. Compensation is taxable, maturity benefits aren’t.”
“Breathtakingly elegant. All those evil risky funds emptied out, with a decent handful grabbed by the Party. A whole industry consigned to Room 101.”
“Compensation is Oldspeak, now banned. In Newspeak it is The EndowMissellProgram. It was predicated on projections that assumed continuance of low inflation so that policies would undershoot targets. When you look back, with inflation as it now is, the whole thing seems ridiculous.
YUu could argue that there’s a case for an Endowment Missurrendering Program now, but as it was the Brotherhood that promoted the first program, so there’s not much chance of success in the second.”
The car rolled past mile upon mile of broken derelict offices. I rechecked my calendar watch. This really was a nightmare: 2005 – it had all happened just a year ago.