On a rainy Thursday morning in Southeast Portland’s Bipartisan Cafe, we sit, slowing sipping our coffee with REM’s “The end of the world as we know it” playing softly in the background. The clouds and rain match the mood of our companion, Dr. Roger Doomsday, the world’s leading Apocalypse consultant. Dr. Doomsday, who has not even touched his mug since it arrived 10 minutes ago, stares quietly out the window at the traffic passing on Southeast Stark and only wonders what might have been.
After what seems like an hour, the famed Apocalypse Consultant breaks the silence,
“They just don’t get it,” he laments.
For the past twelve years, Doomsday has traveled the globe helping both corporations and governments to squander what he estimates to be “eight centuries of accumulated wealth” in just over a decade.
“Everybody wanted a plan, Citibank, JPMorgan, all the big banks, Monsanto, GE, Xerox,” recalled Doomsday, “Some took my recommendations too far, too soon, Enron, Tyco, and Bear Stearns got all excited and blew up early, that was always the danger, blowing through the resources before the Apocalypse arrived.”
“‘How much is enough?’ everyone wanted to know, so I said “you know your retirement calculator? Just shift your life span to end on 12-21-2012,” he laughed, “it worked like magic.”
He now stares at the commuters passing down Stark on their way to work or school through the Bipartisan’s window as shakes his head. ”now, I can only wonder what might have been,” he says, with a tone of regret.
While he believes much wealth has already been squandered, he can only wonder what might have been had the corporations fully implemented his recommendations. However, corporations, who seemed to eagerly embrace his ideas early, have been slow to act according to Doomsday.
“Categorically, I told employers to slash benefits and freeze wages, something that many waited until a couple of years ago to do. Still, many employees saw the writing on the wall and retired, while others, notably union workers, clung to their jobs in the face of deep cuts…I didn’t see that coming.”
The idea was that, with such a disincentive to work, employees would do the math, retire, cash in their 401K and party or otherwise spend irrationally with 12/21/2012 in sight. It was simple on paper, but in practice, Dr. Doomsday underestimated the influence of one key factor: The Apocal-skeptic.
As it turns out, not everyone believed that the world would end on 12-21-2012. Even when presented with the temptation to spend an estimate 800 years of accumulated savings in just 12, some people just couldn’t take the bait.
“The Apocal-skeptics didn’t believe it. What was so clearly carved in stone by people smarter than ourselves some 3,000 years ago somehow didn’t register with them as credible evidence. Only now is my phone blowing up with calls asking how to fast track recommendations which were laid out to debauch the earth over a minimum of seven years to be executed in a week. I threw my phone in the Willamette last night…I can’t take it, we had a golden chance and we wasted it, or didn’t, as it were.”
“The only ones who truly got it are the Western Governments. I mean, in sheer numerical terms, they have hit the ball out of the park when it comes to squandering wealth,” He continues, ”the Governments were already squandering an impressive amount of capital, I just gave them a reason to go all the way.”
While Doomsday still thinks the Government overdid it on things like defense spending, education, and cleaning up the environment, activities he says have no place in an apocalyptic mindset, he can’t deny the numbers.
“While I would have preferred to see my program of night club and amusement park development fully implemented, on net, they (Western Governments) have been the most proactive in encouraging leisure, revelry, and the ‘eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ mindset that is they very core of my philosophy,” he pauses and shakes his head, “they’ve done their fair share, but the people have failed them.”
He blames the human tendency to plan for the future, a survival mechanism which, he admits, takes time to overcome, as well as the Fiscal Cliff, which he claims is a myth which is perpetuated by Apocal-skeptics in the US congress who have a vested interest in the status quo, for derailing many of his recommendations before they made it out of committee and into various spending packages.
As the rain continues to fall, He shakes his head in resignation that a once in a lifetime opportunity was lost.