Saturday, 28 January 2017

You can't make an Omelas

You Can’t Make an Omelas Without Breaking a Few Kids
The Financial Economist
28 January 2023
Key Points:
  • Quarterly GDP at ten-year high of 4.5, Unemployment at 1.5%.
  • Net migration added approximately 5,000 to population last year.
  • Other economies to introduce Omelas-style reforms as early as October.

The smiles at tomorrow’s Omelas’ raucous Festival of Summer are sure to be genuine as official figures show Omelas has capped thirty years of steady economic expansion. Some commentators credit a liberal market for the harbour-state’s enviable status, particularly in the aftermath of two financial crises which have all but crippled the rest of the developed world. However, foreign policy makers are taking aim at something else they see as Omelas’ edge.

“We’re about to see if the Omelas model can accommodate competition,” says He Zheng, regional specialist at ABN Amro Singapore. “It’s too early to tell if Omelas’ advantage will be arbitraged away, but right now you could say there is a race to the dungeon.”

Omelas’ unique suite of policies dubbed ‘Urchin-tech’ rests on the theory that economic, political, and social stability corellates positively with the abuse and neglect of a designated child.

That it is taking so long to emulate Omelas’ controlled scapegoating reflects the extent to which it was derided when first introduced several decades ago. The UN, White House, and Beijing maintain their condemnation, so reformers will have trouble convincing their opponents that Omelas’ leaders were in fact far-sighted.

However, failed initiatives to reboot the world economy have eroded faith that time or alternatives remain. An Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank publication last year called for more public research into Urchin-tech’s potential. Some governments are well ahead.

“We must consider the child,” says Marie Rutter, Belgian observer and Socialist Party MP, speaking by video-call from Green Fields Tower. “Or consider more riots.”

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that trials of a ‘kids cube’ in Matsue City have ‘achieved promise’ in revitalising derelict Shimane prefecture.

Public officials are not the only ones attracted to the Omelas success story. Tens of thousands of migrant workers replace the abnormally high number of locals who emigrate from the country every year. While many arrive by sea or air, yet more trek over the Eighteen Peaks into safe, well-paid vacancies. Who knows if they pass the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Editor: U. LeGuin.

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