The Burgerican Dream

Once upon a time the world came to an end. It just stopped doing what it was doing and through a series of FUBAR’s and SNAFU’s the number of TechnoApes dwindled down to nearly nothing. Nobody knew exactly what happened, but Alien Space Bats were strongly suspected. The few people who remained after humanities exodus from Earth gathered in small groups. These groups were characterized by a common interest shared by the members. In a small cattle farm in the midwest a few dozen such individuals collected around a mutual love of hamburgers. They called themselves Burgerica.

The Burgericans rebuilt their entire society around the production and consumption of hamburgers; as well as french fries and salads. Their social, political and economic systems were all maximized for burger production and consumption. Labor was divided so that there were those who farmed the raw materials and those who processed them into consumable forms. The two groups traded their products for the others and lived in harmony. But as time went on, the processes necessary to lead to hamburgers became more efficient, and the community grew.

Soon there was not enough work for all of the Burgericans, so they expanded their economy by having a new segment of the population which cooked and served the burgers to the other tradesmen and women. This worked for awhile, but soon people began to notice that some people made better burgers than others, and some suppliers and farmers had better practices than others in terms of efficiency and food safety. So a new segment was created of those who regulated the production, service and quality of burgers. But the community continued to grow and processes became more efficient and once again there were not enough jobs.

Since everybody was generally busy all day long farming and processing and serving and regulating, there was not enough burger consumption to keep up with supply. In order to decrease the supply and increase consumption there was a new segment created. This segment consisted mostly of people who were unhelpful or disinterested in burgers. They were given useless and mostly meaningless busywork and in exchange were allowed to consume hamburgers and french fries and salads.

Farming and processing are pretty hard work and for most people, serving burgers was pretty undignified. So people began flocking into the regulatory jobs as well as toward the busywork and consumption. Soon the number of people grew even more and the strain on the resources necessary to create hamburgers for everyone began to show.

When the farmers and processors and servers began to complain about their burden and warn the others about the imbalance of their system they were scorned. Burgers are everybody’s right, the others would say. We should all have equal access to burgers, they said.

The farmers and processors and servers tried to warn them that they were not saying they didn’t want to provide burgers, only that they could not provide burgers to everyone with a resource crisis looming. It was simply unsustainable. Besides, they added, most of you aren’t really doing anything but making our jobs more difficult or running stray errands that don’t produce the burgers that we all value and rely upon.

Yet the regulators and busyworkers would not hear of it. In fact, they began to insist that they had even more rights and access to the dwindling wealth produced by the hamburger economy, not just for themselves but for their families as well. So the farmers and processors and servers gave in, because there was nothing they could do. They were outnumbered and their way of life relied on keeping a steady supply of tasty burgers and fries and salads, so they pushed themselves and their resources to the very edge.

Finally it became apparent to the farmers they could not provide enough meat. The processors and servers felt the shortage and begin to feel the strain of a demand that could not be met. When the regulators and busyworking consumers caught wind of this they went nuts. They demanded and demanded that there were more and more burgers but their demands were pointless. It was not possible. Soon they began to fight one another for hamburgers and then they fought the servers and then they all fought the processors and then the processors joined them to go give the farmers hell, but they were all gone.

The farmers saw what was coming. They took their families and some meager possessions and equipment and went off to settle new lands. They left behind all that they had built in Burgerica and went off on their own. Amongst them they decided never to specialize again. Every farmer would produce, process, serve and regulate the things that they found valuable. Where there was mutually shared interest in one another’s products, they would trade. But they shunned a system of centralized authority and economic processes and instead traded and self organized through voluntary consent which relied upon every individuals talents, values and reputation.

And they lived happily ever after. Except for when they didn’t, because that is how life goes, but that was okay because their wisdom taught them that fighting it just made it worse.

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