Thursday, 11 November 2010

My story feels less speculative as each headline passes.

I've been fighting with my story again... but I randomly read the 'Have Your Say' part of the BBC website, today's is about benefit reform and one comment struck me hard, quoted as posted, mistakes included:
That's a non problem isn't it? Couldn't the government just create work for those if none is availble.

For example they could throw a load of books into the middle of a huge room and the job is to reorder them alphabetically. That's a days work for 10 people right away. Next day they throw the books back into the center of the room.

Pointless sure. But if people need the money they'll do it right?

It might not be a "job" as such but it is work and therefore will prevent people seeing benefits as a "I dont have to work" option while still providing a saftey net for those that need it. And those that need it will surely just be glad they are getting the money right?

And if people don't want to sort books 5 hours a day, 5 days a week they can always opt out but then they don't get the benefits.

Why wouldn't this work?

My current story is a near future reality on changes to a benefit system and putting people into a system to claim benefit, I use the term 'opt in' and 'opt out' and my system is  well, deadly.

The author of this comment asks why wouldn't this work? The problem isn't that it wouldn't work - but that it would work, and once that works, where does it stop? Once you know you have people over a barrel to make money simply to survive - you can make them do anything, or make the decision to not eat, the decision ultimately, to die. 

When I came up with my story, I thought my storyline was farfetched, who would ever believe that this was possible. Infact early on, this bothered me - I wanted it to be believable, something you could imagine doing yourself in the same situation, not liking it - but knowing at the same time, there is no choice.

Now, some ten months after starting my notes on this story - it's not farfetched. It is scarily believable. To the point where I genuinely get chills thinking about it. I have moments where I think - well, at least the current climate means my book might get a publisher quicker - then moments where I stop being selfish and think, holy shit, the country is going down the toilet.

I think it's a sad day when my speculative fiction story could easily be the next headline of reforms from the Cameron/Clegg camp. And even worse, that I can easily believe if they thought they'd get away with what my story entails, that they'd do it.

We never want to get to a stage where we know that people will do anything because, if people want to eat, they'll do it. Because then, the only outcome is what is suggested gets worse, and the money gets less, because if you want to eat, you'll do more.  ~ Kitty

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