Friday, August 08, 2003

California: The Outsource State



I phoned the lady from the League of Women Voters to confirm the location of my polling place for the upcoming gubernatorial recall. “I’m mad as hell at Gray Davis and I won’t take it anymore!” I shouted.
“I can hear you, I can hear you,” she said. “But I wouldn’t waste your time turning up.”
“What are you trying to tell me? I’m registered, aren’t I?
“Sure you are, Mr. Lane, but you’ve been outsourced.”
“Yes, the entire voting population of the state has been outsourced to Bangalore, India.”
“Whoa. It’s my sacred right and duty as a citizen of California to vote.”
“I hear you, Mr. Lane. If it’s any consolation, I’ve been outsourced, too. As of next week, all questions to the California League of Women Voters will be outsourced and referred to Singapore.”
“But how could this happen?! California’s a state, not a corporation! It can’t just ship our voting rights outside the borders.”
“Mr. Lane, you’re SO behind the loop! California was incorporated years ago! Call it California Corp. It’s run by hardnosed no-nonsense businessmen who are only interested in the bottomline.”
“But elections can’t be run as a for-profit business! It’s one citizen, one vote!”
“Come on, Mr. Lane! You mean you didn’t notice that Darrel Issa purchased the recall by paying his out-of-state petitioners one dollar for every signature they collected? He got the whole thing for less than $2 million. Quite a bargain.”
“But what about the $60 million that the recall election will cost the state? Is he paying that, too? Or will the cost be outsourced?”
“First of all, Mr Lane, California is CalCorp, not a state. And no, Mr. Issa will not pay anymore. In fact, he’s dropped out of the campaign for governor. The $60 million will be paid by the citizens of California.”
“So why don’t we get to vote?”
“Well, the corporate lobbyists met with the term limit legislators up in Sacramento and persuaded them, after several junkets to Manzanilla, that it would be cheaper to buy votes in India than in California. Moreover, the voters of Bangalore are likely to be much better informed about California issues than are California voters, who know virtually nothing about their government, er, ah, corporation.”
“But why Bangalore?”
“Bangalore is a popular spot for Internet consultants. The Bangalorans all speak English, more or less, and are willing to put in long hours for low wages, and they respect the dictates of the corporation which pays them. It’s all easier this way. The only thing that WON’T be outsourced is taxes. We natives will still have to pay them.”
“But what about Gary Coleman and Angelyne and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Larry Flynt and Arianna Huffington? Will they be outsourced, too?”
“You ARE slow, Mr. Lane. The candidates for the upcoming gubernatorial race already HAVE been outsourced. To another planet. All the people you have named are aliens.”
“Wow.” I got dizzy. It was true. How could I not have realized it sooner?
“Of course, there was a trial-run back in the ‘80’s with Governor Moonbeam.”
“You mean….”
“Yes, he really WAS from the moon. Our moon. But Angelyne is from a planet far far outside our solar system. And we’re not sure WHERE Arianna H originated, though she CLAIMS she’s from Greece.”
“Maybe it’s better this way, what do you think?”
“It doesn’t matter what I think, Mr. Lane, anymore than it matters what you think.”
“You mean our opinions have been outsourced, too?”
“Of course! Our opinions are beamed at us by satellite TV from a galaxy far, far, away---Murdochia.”
“What?! You mean Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV Network? What’s life like on Murdochia?”
“Everything’s upside down. That’s why they call it the Land Down-Under. In Murdochia, the rich and powerful are viewed as the underprivileged and the poor and weak are viewed as oppressors. All social services, such as corporate welfare and offshore tax loopholes and tax credits for SUV’s and legacy admissions to the best universities, are designed for the rich in order to right the imbalance.”
“But won’t that make the imbalance, the social injustice, even worse?”
“Not if you look at things upside down, which is exactly how Murdochians see them. And now, thanks to Star TV, it’s exactly how Californians see them. Not that it matters how Californians see anything. You see….”
“….let me guess. California’s vision of itself and the future has been outsourced, too?”
“Exactly! The Golden State’s old dream for itself was impossibly expensive and unrealistic and inefficient. Imagine dreaming of social justice and opportunity for all and a protected environment! Give me a break! Where’s the bottomline?!”
“So what’s CalCorp’s new outsourced dream of the future?”
“It’s an upside down dream, of course. The beaches, with closed access to the public of course, are for the rich. Also, the mountains and forests, or at least those which won’t be sold to Japan, are for the rich. Also, the good colleges are for the rich. Congested freeways and crowded schools and fighting in hot foreign Middle Eastern Lands, of course, are….”
“…for the poor and middleclass.”
“Now you’re getting with the program, Mr. Lane. But the good thing is that much of the defense of Americorp will be carried on by outsourced troops from 3rd World countries. They’re much more willing to risk their necks than are American citizens anyway. And afterwards, if they survive, they’ll be rewarded with American citizenships, which are now worse than worthless, thanks to the outsourcing of everything, including the Bill of Rights, and the increased tax burden on the poor and middle classes.”
“Wait a second! We were talking about CALcorp. But now you’re telling me that the whole country is incorporated?! And that the Constitution itself has been outsourced?!”
“Now Mr. Lane, you KNOW that California is the trendsetter state. As goes Calcorp, so goes the nation. That’s our new motto.”
“OUR new motto? You mean you’re working for Calcorp now?”
“My other job with the League of Women Voters got OUTsourced, I told you that. I have to make a living just like anybody else. I work for Calcorp, which is a subsidiary of Americorp. I’m leasing out pieces of the State & U.S. Constitutions to various client states and multi-national corporations for a tidy profit. You wouldn’t BELIEVE what Vivendi just paid for the 14th Amendment. But then, they always were suckers.”
“Let me ask you something: Do you CARE that your country is now a corporation and that you’re just an employee, not a citizen?”
“I see CalCorp and Americorp as lifeboats, Mr. Lane. The Titanic is going down, or at least being outsourced. Now Mr. Lane, would you rather be in a lifeboat or arranging deckchairs on the Titanic?”
I looked out over the railing. A gigantic iceberg labeled DEFICIT loomed overhead. Below me, in the freezing ocean, bobbed the heads of millions of Californian and American citizens whose jobs and votes had been outsourced. They clearly weren’t long for this inhospitable new world. In front of me was a corporate lifeboat. The only one left. I put down my deckchair, ripped a dress from a matron in steerage, donned it, and charged for the boat, screaming: “Women and children first!”