July 8, 9710: Archeologists yesterday announced they have found fossil remnants that may explain the demise of the land once known as America. It appears the 'Great Experiment' didn't collapse in any sort of sudden cataclysm but slowly decayed, almost rotting to death. The Americans seem to have perished...
...waiting in line at the airport, grandmotherly and baby terrorists alike, some in their underwear, all with their shoes off. A separate breed, almost another species, appears to have had their brains removed, identified by uniforms with the letters TSA on them. All were smiling cooperatively.
... tearing up credit card solicitations. By the countless billions.
... saving money on car insurance in a pathetic tail-chasing reenactment of Xeno's paradox, they were saving so much money that car insurance companies would have had to be paying them, were it not just another scam of a commerce system gone berserk.
... submitting rebate forms. Apparently all goods and services were free-after-rebate, and almost all money exchanged hands in reverse, through coupons and rebates. Those items that weren't free after rebate were simply advertised as free... after, of course, the 12-year monthly contract. Some 12 million of the fossilized Americans were found reading their communications bills, trying to figure out what company they came from. Many had kitchen implements thrust in their eyes, apparently self-inflicted to make the bill-reading less painful by comparison.
... in toll booth lines and in front of casino machines. In a desperate bid to save patronage-bloated systems, a war of non-productive taxing went berserk. States bet on millions of slot machines and local authorities put up toll booths everywhere. By the end, only six people actually succeeded in conducting commerce and manufacturing.
... frozen in front of their computers, 'surfing the web' as it was called, trying to find for 'sex tapes.' (This was in the days before politicians and celebrities had to submit their video sex transcripts to the public.) Those millions who succeeded in finding the tapes died of something called 'reality television,' similar to flesh-eating bacteria it turned their brains to a slimy gelatin that oozed out of their ears. The closest evidence, found in relics called newspapers, traces the phenomenon back to a mythical white bronco.
... turning to stone in hospital waiting rooms; these were the lucky ones that actually had health insurance. As near as the researchers could tell, those without health insurance were condemned to push wheelbarrows full of green paper bricks back and forth between hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. In perhaps the strangest twist, the doctors didn't actually perform medicine but simply followed the uninsured around and charted their movement of the wheelbarrows. It seems as if medicine in those days had been brilliantly reduced to numerical accounting... reminiscent of ancient Egypt's precocious use of geometry to build pyramids in honor of their leaders.
But in America, the monuments seem to have been erected for those who can hit a ball or leap the highest with one. These 'athletes' must have been the ones with political power; it couldn't have been the posturing figureheads in the seat of government, who were all found crushed under huge tomes that simply enumerated favored corporations. This sort of 'exception' methodology seems consistent with the financial mechanism of the rebate system.
The real deity however seems to have been jobs (or Jobs?). Fifty million died praying for jobs, whereas the rich people with jobs prayed to Jobs... apparently spending every last dollar on "i" devices, never able to satisfy their self-indulgence. Scientists are still trying to work this all out.
Only one thing in our current society seems to have survived all this time, a weather broadcaster on Comcast-Chinamerica channel 2794, a man by the name of Dick Clark. In other news, computer programmers have discovered a diabolical new problem that they are calling Y10K.