“William York” is a well known contributor to OnlineOpinion. His friend Tom recently received a letter from him:
Sydney 1 April 2273
It has been some time since I got back to Australia after twenty years in international banking in the West Indies although I hope you got my message from Tuvalu. I had a wonderful holiday there. What with walking up and down the coral cliffs from the hotel to the beach and back, I am now extremely fit.
Anyhow I am writing to report on the extraordinary recovery that has taken place in Australia. For much of the twenty-first century, the country resembled one of those South American economies of the twentieth century. It is an appalling record. It started with a semi-religious festival called “Earth Hour” where everyone turned off their electrical appliances for an hour to save the world from global warming. This was taken up by a charismatic political leader now referred to as “Malcolm of the Light Bulbs”. In the year 2007 he banned the use of incandescent lights. This was only the start, Federal and State governments followed by banning the use of coal in power stations. Some states lost most of their electricity supply within a year. However the governments were followers of the “Garno Cult” as it is often called. It seems to be derived from its leader’s experiences with the peoples of New Guinea who had a similar cult. The essence of it was that by stopping the use of coal, the unmet need that was created would be met by the appearance of new forms of energy. This was to be achieved through the extraordinary ability of the citizens to innovate, largely through the widespread government distribution of laptop computers and broadband telephone connections.
After twenty years of continuous economic decline when many of the mineral processing industries had departed for the booming countries of South East Asia, a pro-nuclear political party gained the balance of power in the Federal parliament. Following the lead of the UK where two hundred years ago in London the Southbank Power Station was turned into an art gallery, the Tate Modern, most of the coal burning power station buildings had been put to other uses. So slowly the country started to order and build nuclear power plants. However there was such a demand with construction order books stretching over thirty years, that some of the states leased decommissioned nuclear submarines from the United States navy. In the case of Victoria, three large submarines were moored at the naval dockyard at Williamstown with their fifty megawatt reactors supplying power to the national electricity grid. The arrival of the submarines in Port Phillip was met by the greatest fleet of small boats ever recorded in the bay and they formed a welcoming channel that stretched from near Point King at Sorrento with its celebrated Baillieu-Fox Museum of Architecture and Transport all the way to Williamstown.
You should note the date of this letter. The first of April is now a day of remembrance. At twelve noon we all observe a minute’s silence as the President burns the ceremonial share certificate and mortgage instrument at the Grave of the Unknown Shareholder in Martin Place. Just before the silence we all set the risk free rate of return to zero in the Black Scholes Option Pricing function of our computers and wait for the appearance of the “blue screen of death”. The trading floor is filled with a ghostly blue light but then we reboot and start trading.
I have put this letter in a timewarp bottle which I am told should find its way back to you. Anyway I must go down and buy an Aussie meat pie for lunch. Pies and pastries have only recently been removed from the list of prohibited substances. They were banned for many years as governments tried to reduce healthcare costs.