What's Marriage?
by FG. Posted here for: July 28, 2014.

A Look at the Future
Source of graphic.

"Grandpa, what's 'marriage'?"

Smiling at the boy, the old man scratched his chin and said, "Well, Jimmy, marriage used to be a popular custom where a man and a woman vowed to live with each other and to be faithful to each other until the day they died. Actually, Jimmy, your grandmother and I were married way back in 2017, but that was a long, long time ago."

Jimmy stared at his grandfather in amazement. "Wow!" he said, "you mean people got married and actually stayed together for the rest of their lives?"

"Yep, but even though the custom had been popular for hundreds of years, it gradually died out in the late 2020s. You see, when gays started pushing for marriage in the 2010s, people gradually began to realize marriage had become meaningless. When the big push for bigamy came along, the act of marriage became even less relevant. Finally the custom died out completely."

"Wow!" Jimmy said again.

"But that wasn't all," the old man said. "Christianity played a role as well. Marriage always had close ties to religion, and when passion for Christianity across the country faded, enthusiasm for marriage also faded. As Christianity waned, Islam began to fill the void. Sharia took hold across Europe, then in the U.S. Finally, in the 2030s, during the Mohamed Farouk Rashid presidency, Islam was declared America's national religion. President Rashid was our second Muslim president, you know.

"Back when I was a kid," Grandpa continued, "the saying was 'separation of church and state.' When Islam became fashionable, it was pointed out there never was any talk of separation of mosque and state!"

"I know," the boy said confidently, "we're learning about that stuff in school."

"And another thing," Grandpa added, "the government also was a factor. Federal law first outlawed home schooling, so all students would be properly trained to pass national scholastic tests. Then private schools were outlawed for the same reason. When pre-kindergarten classes were mandated, the government expanded further its involvement in rearing children. By the time you were born, Jimmy, all social, political, and moral instruction became the federal government's responsibility. The 'family' evolved into a parent-government partnership and kids spent more time with their 'education shapers' than they did with their own parents.

"So," Grandpa continued, "not only did marriage become meaningless, 'family' did, too. Everyone realized traditional mothers and fathers were totally unequipped to raise kids. That's when the moms and dads became simply 'launching agents,' whose only purpose was to bring babies into the world, if of course they got the proper permission license from the government. And that's why now, after birth, babies are transferred immediately to Upbringing Centers. A lot of kids -- actually most kids -- never see their parents again."

Grandpa looked straight into Jimmy's eyes. "You're an exception to the rule, Jimmy. You chose to search out your parents and keep in touch with them. Why did you do that?"

"Oh, I don't know," Jimmy replied. "I guess just for the heck of it."

"If you didn't do that, I never would have met you. Or seen you. Or talked to you."

Jimmy looked away. "Yeah, I guess that's right," he said.

"So what job or profession has been chosen for you?" Grandpa asked.

"One of my govmoms told me my testing has placed me on a path to be either a bank teller or an environmental worker."

"Do you get to pick which one?" Grandpa asked.

"No, it will be assigned to me after the next round of tests. That'll happen in about six months."

"What do you think about those jobs?"

"Oh, I don't know. I haven't thought very much about them."

"Let me give you some advice, Jimmy. Don't fight it. Let the system work. If you're assignment is to be a bank teller, accept it. If you raise a fuss, it will be noted on your Citizen Record. Your Citizen Privilege Credits will be docked and you'll regret it for the rest of your life."

"I know, Grandpa, they keep telling us that in school." Jimmy paused. "Grandpa, do you know how much money I'll make?"

"Well, Jimmy, it depends on your assigned Pay Bracket. Twenty years ago or so, there weren't any government-assigned Pay Brackets. We had a minimum wage, but nothing else. Then, to lessen the pay disparity between rich and poor, a maximum wage was legislated. I think that was during Miguel Ernesto's presidency. He was our first Hispanic president, you know. We were very proud of that, even though his presidency was an utter disaster. Then for even greater pay equality, the Pay Bracket Schedule was established. This took all the discretion away from private institutions and centralized it in the government's Wage Control Board."

Jimmy sighed and looked out the window, but Grandpa went on: "Now each worker falls into one of 16 pay brackets . . . unless of course you're a member of one of the 'favored' classes. Women automatically make eight percent more than men. Blacks make 17 percent more than whites, and Hispanics make nine percent more than whites. It's the government's solution to the demand for affirmative action. And of course Jews make nine percent less. It's basically government-sanctioned reparations. But of course that hasn't solved the race problem in America. Even though we've had a national conversation about race over and over, the race problem never seems to get resolved"

"Grandpa, that doesn't seem fair," Jimmy interjected. "I mean about the pay brackets. Why isn't a worker's pay based on how well he does his job?"

"Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy! That's old fashioned. Fairness was in style years ago, but now addressing social ills is what's important. Don't they teach that in school?"

"Every single day," Jimmy said, "but it just doesn't seem fair to me."

"Yes, we used to believe in fairness -- way back in the 2020s -- but we realize now it's more important to address equality issues. We need to give certain groups more money so they'll be more equal with other groups."

Jimmy shook his head.

"When you have a country with so many new citizens, certain changes must be made," Grandpa stated. "In the late 2010s, Democrats and Republicans ushered in dramatic immigration reform."

Jimmy looked puzzled. "Democrats and Republicans?" he asked.

"Back then," Grandpa explained, "there were two political parties. One was the Democrats and the other the Republicans. There used to be Tea Parties, too, but they were soon outlawed. Anyway, both the Democrats and the Republicans favored amnesty for illegal aliens; Democrats because they knew immigrants would vote Democrat, and Republicans because they were convinced they needed to pander to Hispanics. So, unconditional citizenship was granted to all illegal immigrants in the U.S. We were told back then there were 11 million illegals in the country. It turned out there were 27 million of them. Democrats were right. The immigrants voted more than three-quarters Democrat, and the Republican party collapsed. Democrats were elected to all positions in government and they changed their name to the 'People's Party.' I think that was during Wilfred Chesterfield's presidency. He was our first gay president. We were very proud of that, but he died of a sexually-transmitted disease during his first year in office.

"Anyway," Grandpa went on, "that's why we needed to focus on equality. The new citizens didn't know our language, so we became a bi-language nation, and they didn't have very many work skills, so the government established the Wage Control Board and instituted Pay Brackets to give these people a chance to make it here. It was the proper humanitarian thing to do."

"I would think all sorts of illegal people would want to come here," said Jimmy.

"Oh, yes indeed!" replied Grandpa. "And come they did. Since amnesty was granted, more than 70 million people have come here. It has changed everything in this country. Not just our language, but our culture, our beliefs, and even our laws. The government first passed gun registration, then a short time later gun confiscation. The Second Amendment of the Constitution was revoked . . . "

Jimmy interrupted. "Constitution?"

"Yes, Jimmy, it used to be the sacred law of the land. Lots of politicians just ignored it, even presidents. Then they changed it. But in a short time, Sharia just overwhelmed it. And of course the U.N.'s world law must also be obeyed. So country, Islam, and world governments are now in control. That's why there's only one car you can buy now in this country: the Americar. That's why there's only one bank, the Ameribank. That's why there's Common Core. That's why it's against the law to miss the daily calls to prayer. That's why if you say anything that might offend someone, your Citizen Privilege Credits will be docked. That's why what we eat is so carefully controlled. That's why every medical procedure must be approved by the Health Board before it's performed. That's why you can't travel more than 40 miles from your place of residence without a permit from the Citizen Travel Department. That's why your job will be selected for you. That's why we aren't allowed to own land anymore."

"You mean you actually lived in a time when it was different from this?"

"Oh my, yes, Jimmy. When I was a kid, everything was different from what it is today."

"You must be really old, Grandpa."

Grandpa sighed. "I can remember," he said, "when no one had an ID chip in his arm, when fuel for your car cost less than 10 dollars a gallon, when it was safe to leave your apartment complex at night, when the United States was a rich and powerful country, when the United States wasn't split into pieces, when people could actually believe in a religion of their choice.

"But," Grandpa sighed again, "those days are gone forever. You know, Jimmy, I can remember when people weren't even concerned about the environment. Then a guy by the name of Al Gore came along and got us all thinking about how important it is to have environmental laws -- like recycling laws, like laws against cutting down trees, like laws against eating meat, like laws controlling how much water can be used, like laws controlling how much power we can use. I think it was during the presidency of Dwayne Chamberlain. You know he was our first trans-sexual president. We were very proud of that."

"We've studied all about him in school," Jimmy said.

"It was during Chamberlain's presidency," Grandpa continued, "that the Washington Monument in Washington, DC was taken down and a 185-foot statue of Al Gore was erected in its place. The public realized George Washington was a rich, slave-owning white guy not worthy of tribute, while Gore was the man who helped us realize the environment was even more important than freedom. It turned out Gore was completely wrong about global warming, but that didn't matter. Back before Gore, no one thought about CO2 levels. No one ever heard of the Precautionary Principle. Or Sustainable Development. Or Agenda 21. No one thought about making care of the environment the central organizing principle of government. Al Gore changed everything."

Jimmy said, "In school we're taught those were really terrible times back then. People didn't know anything. How could they actually make choices for themselves? They're just common, ordinary people! The government is so wise. People don't really know what's good for them. The government does. The government knows what's best for you to eat. It's able to tell every one of us what three healthy meals we should eat each day. The government knows what the best temperature is for our rooms. The government knows what medical treatment we should have. I can't imagine common, ordinary people making those decisions. That's unrealistic!"

"I guess we get used to change," Grandpa said with yet another sigh, "whatever the changes are. You are taught in school these are the best times ever. How would you know otherwise. There are but a few TV channels you can watch now. There used to be hundreds. The Internet is now carefully monitored, and taxed. Years ago it wasn't controlled at all. Parents can't raise their own child with their own beliefs and values any more. All libraries and other sources of information have been cleansed, so their content supports what the government tells us. Criticism of the government is no longer permitted. Our phone calls and electronic messages are monitored and recorded. The government knows where we are every minute of the day. Our lives are completely controlled by government."

"Grandpa, is that why you're here in this place?"

"Yes, Jimmy. Based on a complicated formula, the government determines the value of each and every citizen in the country. This practice happened during the Flying White Cloud presidency. He was our first native-American president. We were very proud of that."

"I know, I know." said Jimmy. "We've studied him as much as we've studied about President Chamberlain."

"Anyway, as I was saying, if you're young, you have potential. You can contribute positively to society. In middle age, your Citizen Value Parameter reaches its peak, as you are contributing much more to society than you're demanding from it. But as a person ages, the Citizen Value Parameter declines dramatically."

"What's your Citizen Value Parameter, Grandpa?"

"No one knows what his or her number is. The government keeps that secret. And it's not just one's contribution to society. Also factored in are a person's requirements for resources: food, housing, medical, that sort of thing. And also the number of Citizen Privilege Credits he has. They're all used to calculate your Termination Date. But of course our leaders and certain Recognized and Respected Citizens are exempted from this process."

"And all those calculations," Jimmy said slowly, "all those calculations made your Termination Date . . ."

"Yes, Jimmy," Grandpa said. "Today."

"Goodbye, Grandpa."

"Goodbye, Jimmy."

This little tale is not intended to describe what will happen to the U.S., but rather what could happen.