Even as the world grapples to contain the coronavirus, a new, far greater threat to the established order has emerged. One which could cause the greatest upheaval in human history: Communicable inequality.
“That’s correct,” says Dr. E. Leets, head of the Monaco Centre For Letting Them Eat Cake. “We have confirmed cases of people who had significant portfolios of assets, a healthy network of offshore bank accounts, and abundant liquidity, suddenly becoming …” here he pauses, the visceral vulgarity of the words he is about to speak sticking in his pleasantly-scented and oft-massaged neck.
Early reports indicate as many as 48 wealthy people have been suddenly rendered destitute, with as many as 400 more showing signs they may have to work the rest of their lives to die in debt.
It is the realization of a fear that the haves of the world have harbored since they first started lending currency at exorbitant rates of interest to the have nots, and gaming the system to ensure that the control of power and resources can be passed in an unbroken gold chain from generation to generation. A practice perfected over the years; from the overtly disparate feudal era, right through to today, where generational inequality attempts to hide behind a thin veneer of bare minimum social programs.
“Sugar!!” shouted billionaires all over the world, as word spread that poverty could now be caught just like the common cold. “Call the pilots, and tell them to get the jet ready to fly some place where there aren’t any poor people. I don’t care where. Qatar, St. Barths, a polo tournament, whatever. Just so long as there’s no one within breathing distance who has ever travelled economy, or looked at a price on a menu.”
But while wealth centres moved to lock down their perimeters in an effort to contain the crisis (Brunei has banned anyone with a net worth of less than $10 million, and Monaco has stopped all inbound travel except by yacht) a problem has quickly become apparent: there is no one left to do the work.
“We’re all going to die,” stated one woman baldly, as she stood in the middle of a restaurant in the Burj Al Arab building in Dubai. The eatery was full of hungry wealthy people, but with the poor working class that staff the U.A.E. city-state having been forcibly repatriated to their respective countries (most of them to Bangladesh and Pakistan), there was no one left to cook, set the tables, or show people where to sit.
“It’s absolute chaos,” confirmed a man, speaking from the famous American bastion of overt consumption, Mar-a-Lago. “I’m told President Trump considered mobilizing the National Guard when he learned that just one underprivileged person sneezing on him could mean his children having to get actual jobs, but many of the reservists themselves are middle-to-lower class, and so could be a risk of spreading the poorness.”
With experts estimating that the number of wealthy people infected with the virulent strain of inequality will climb into the tens of thousands within days, infectious disease centres around the world are already hard at work trying to find an antidote to the airborne poverty.
“Unfortunately all we’ve been able to come up with so far is a fair rate of taxation for the wealthy and their corporations,” says Dr. Leets. “And that obviously isn’t going to happen.”