Author’s note: this was an entry for Texas Observer’s 2015 fiction contest. It didn’t win anything, but I thought someone might get a kick out of the satire.

 

The liberal media wants me to go apeshit over some poached baby elephant but I can’t give two craps. My outrage is reserved for better things, bigger things. Like losing my job.

A good job, a specialist position, now broken down into subspecialties and divvied up between slave laborers on some remote American protectorate and lucky robots in Kentucky. The Speculator Class has big bets on which solution does the most for the least.

Vegas is favoring the humans. They’re cheaper to assemble and have the lower mean time between failures. And if you lube them up with a juicy fairy tale about trickle-down economics, they’ll sacrifice their own futures and vote you a tax break.

The trick for those of us trickled down on, we’re told, is sponsor our own robots and reap their rewards. Robots don’t need the money.

If I could afford to invest in a robot I would have done so while still making six figures plus benefits. But I’m not a privileged member of the Speculator Class, who are busy circle-jerking for thin margins of win while cheering on those of us racing to the bottom.

Captains of Industry, start your Titanics!

When the ride is over, please bring your golden lifejacket to the nearest America’s Cup registration desk.

This country used to run on gold, and then oil, but now it’s fueled on outrage. An economy of outrage. I earned more than my share at my last good job, and hoarded well. I spent too much while unemployed, though. Now I’m underemployed and can’t spare any outrage for every pet peeve. You want my outrage, then work for it.

I once had a gig with a firm that ran on confusion and apathy, and think I was the only one there developing any outrage equity. The whole company had exhausted its supply years before I brought in a fresh batch. I didn’t carry any emotional currency there. Apathy is naturally repelled by outrage.

True story,

We were working on a Big Government Project. The employer was being fined a gazillion dollars for being late. So they brought a horde of us in under contract to catch up. Management convened these periodic review meetings where each time we were treated to this Dilbertesque report:

  1. We’re further behind
  2. The penalty has increased
  3. Gotta lay some people off

As the head-count at each assembly progressively shrunk, I was left to wonder:

Where is the outrage? It’s usually welded to irony.

When I was a hot-headed twenty-something firebrand I distributed it freely. You can pull that off when you’re young, because you accumulate outrage at a much faster rate than you can spend. Anger builds and earns interest like magma, burning in your growing gut until you finally vent. So you set fires to hay bales, flip cars when your team loses the Big Game. Hell flip ’em when you win, too. It isn’t about the thing. It’s about the release.

Speaking of games, what the hell do Vegas bookies know about anything, anyway? Bastards live in a bubble. No apathy or confusion though, just sheer delusion. It’s worth more than outrage, but I can’t afford it. Takes a special sort to launder delusion into a living wage.

Bookies are just the remoras of the Speculator Class, begging for bloody scraps in the shark tank.

In decades past we relied on traditional media to work us up. Often the best content was on the newspaper editorial page. Hard-copied emotions disseminate ponderously. Outrage in those days burned slow, smoldering like Pennsylvania coal mine fires, until it reached critical mass and exploded across the evening television news. And it truly was news. At the distinct end of the program a buttoned-up talking head assured us that his editorial did not reflect the station’s views but hey here’s what’s wrong with the planet today.

The Internet makes it insanely simple now for you to fire off your precious ire. Targets are popped-up cheap and easy. Virtual clay pigeons of outrage, brought down by laser-guided mice. Which are crafted by sweatshop robots, and half price today only if you enter this coupon code. And watch this video from our sponsor to gain access to our editorials.

But don’t read the comments. Never read the comments. The outrage there is also cheap and easy. Thick with irony. Raised too quickly, like pustulous boils, by parasites skimming across the hot topical surface. Crapping out half-baked opinions to suck in viral crap scavengers.

According to the comments, slackers like me must have deserved to lose our jobs, and the industrious robots deserve to take them. Robots don’t complain. Robots don’t go on strike. One day all the menial and repetitive work will be done by robots, and vacationing humans will enjoy the resulting riches. Holy golden lubricating oil overflowing and trickling down and anointing us all equally, lifting all party barges with a viscous, visceral tide.

No one says where the money will come from, but that’s a detail.

The dream is what keeps us going. Voting against our best interests today for the piss-down promise of tomorrow. Putting food on the table with credit cards.

Poached baby elephant. Sounds like a central African delicacy.

No, you don’t see it on the menu. That’s only because the poor things are nearly extinct. Much like my outrage.

Anyway not that I give a damn but welcome to Mac’s Burgers may I take your order.

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