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What would this society be like?
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Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:31 pm
I've got an idea for a book in which a set of laws are passed in the UK during the near future that are supposed to stem overpopulation and debt. I haven't completely worked it out but I want children to be taken away from their parents and used as human subjects in experiments if they are no use to society. At the moment I've come up with a slightly less crazy version of that but I'm stuck on what would work and how this society would work.
The laws state that a child has 18 years in which to prove themselves useful to society, by getting grades above a threshold that show they are worthy of government support. If they maintain high grades, they get the usual government funding: free healthcare, child allowance, normal taxes, ability to apply for certain jobs etc. However, if they do not get the highest grades, they are cut off from any welfare and are usually forced into menial labour and paid the bare minimum. Those who do not attend school and are judged to have no value are taken by the government and used in place of animals in experiments or as crash dummies.
I want to know what the society would be like. Would most children be wrecked with anxiety problems as they try to get the correct grades? Would there be a black market of tutors or something?
If you have another idea of how this could work I'd be very grateful.
Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:02 am
Depends on what sort of punishment you doll out for any attempt to cheat the system, and what sort of advertising is used for each alternative. There's also how long since the law was enacted and the emigration laws+ the rest of the world.
I'll not comment on 18 year olds being evaluated because, here in North America, that's right when there's a natural pause in schooling as you either finish high school or start college (therefore, there'd either be barely enough time to prove yourself or you're about to be chucked into a different environment so the precedent may not line up).
Punishment: If it is severe, then the amount of corruption in the system to allow for a black market of tutors, grade papers, ect would need to be either very exact (only the right people are corrupted) or rampant (the right people are corrupted by default because of how much corruption is around). If the punishment was lax, then there'd not need to be corruption to allow a black market to spring up.
The amount of corruption would involve determining what the black market could offer in return. A kickback, a list of those to help an extra amount because they were special and the people in power want them to go through, or something else.
Advertising: (the following ramble is being delivered by an advertising major; you have been warned)
Chances are this ruling would come with a certain amount of advertising because of the sudden
to have human test subjects and menial labour tasks, in part to lower the population, and in part because a structure like that just needs certain people in certain positions to function properly.
This means that there would be a certain spin put on the other two options, besides the top tier of people. Human test subjects would be pitched as making the world a safer place by playing those parts, and the labourers would be played up as a paid position that lets society function by making life easier for the top tier.
Advertising like this would help create a certain sense of pride in a few people, basically beginning to segregate society from the start and help ease those who don't have a prayer of hitting the top levels into their own lot. As I said, these levels of society will become a necessity because labour and test subjects are frequently needed in an industrialized nation.
Segregation would be surprisingly effective to certain people, especially those who would consider death (experiments) or labour better/the same as their current life. Because you're working on a threshold system instead of a "there are only so many jobs available" system, there wouldn't be as much competition once it was established that the lower groups had a place and certain people would have a near impossible time getting out of their place.
, those on the cusp between their preferred group, the group society expects of them, or the top group, would probably start getting really anxious even with the grading system. This is especially true for those who might not get the best grades in school but end up doing really well in the workforce, and/or those who think they could do more if it wasn't for a school's grading system. These people wouldn't be in the advertising's audience and would try like crazy to get out of their lot.
In general, the top tier would end up with a huge stigma to
there, especially if they came from a well-off family. This would create the anxiety you mentioned, but mostly those on the cusp. Those who have rigged the system (if possible) or those who can do amazing without much work probably wouldn't worry.
The time also plays a factor. If your story is set after enough years of this, then people will have gotten used to it. There will be the less resistance, but there will be that pressure for people to stay in their tier (especially the top.) However, there won't be the full-wide panic that the introduction of that law would probably bring, especially in those who had been counting on the workforce to be nice to them because school wasn't.
And finally, emigration. If people are allowed to leave the country and several do, then you'll probably have a few people fleeing the country. That law would also lower other countries' opinion of the UK, because of how many personal freedoms were taken away by enacting it. Either other countries would have to see the value of the law (bringing in a world-wide intelligence segregation and totalitarian regime, which negates what the emigration laws are at the time) or they cut ties to the UK because of the civil liberties lost.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo
Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:53 am
Rosey Unicorn you are amazing! I was not expecting such a detailed response, thank you so much. I'll take into account all your ideas, especially the advertising part. Thank you thank you thank you!
Mon Sep 05, 2011 8:57 am
I was going to give a suggestion, but Rosey's idea is brilliant
Will we see it here? If so, please let me know when you post it!
Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:03 pm
And it just dawned on me that the government could erase all records of people doing bad in school then succeeding in the workforce, to help settle unrest. "Erase" could mean a vast number of things, depending on your culture.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo
Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:10 pm
This kinda reminds me of the Quarians from Mass Effect, along the lines of having to prove themselves when they reach adulthood. When they reach adulthood they have to leave the Floatila, the massive fleet of ships that where they have lived ever since a scentient race of machines that they created called the Geth drove them from their homeworld. They leave to go on this "pilgrimage" in an attempt to find something to return to the Floatila that will contribute to their race as a whole, whether it's important data or another ship to add to the fleet's ranks. It's generally looked down upon if they come back empty handed, but when they do bring back something of value they present it to the captain of whatever ship they want to be a crew on as a gift. If I remember correctly, the better the gift the better the chance they can get onto a really important ship.
The Quarians are very family orianted. Due to the close quarters they have to live in they veiw the rest of their race as one giant family. They're very big on contributing for the betterment of their people, even if there's no profit to be made from it. I'm assuming your idea wouldn't be as family friendly.
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