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Hard Times 02

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2016

Introduction

Overview


Cast, places, and other names (from Hard Times)

Blabistan -- new nation
Glugistan -- larger neighbor
Moodock Dry Lake -- source of rare earths
Heisenberg Mine -- the mine at the lake

Radamm Hotsein -- newly elected president
Emilia Hotsein -- president's wife

Demitri Stalink -- head of national security

Kamal Kastoff -- opposition leader
Abner Constan -- opposition leader

Lotran Mandis -- kleptocrat and a president supporter

Kent Clark -- General Manager, Heisenberg Mine
Bundar-Bundar -- klepto bureaucrat in charge of mine

Alice Kazam -- shop keeper in the company town next to the mine
Bas-Jouwa -- Revolution Police Chief in company town

Bergen Halston -- UN committee chairperson

Glugistan splits into two nations -- Glugistan and Blabistan. Glugistan was a product of "draw a dotted line on the map" post-war imperialism. This arbitrariness had joined two oil-and-water cultures into one nation. The split finally recognizes this. It came about as the result of a referendum conducted by the UN. There had been decades of hard feelings between the two cultures, now there is a sense of relief, and some different kinds of hard feelings because Glugistan has been diminished. The Glugi leaders have lost some face.

Between the two new nations is Moodock Lake -- an Areal Sea type place. It has dried up because the Glugistan side is sucking off the river that fills it to grow cotton. When the partition is agreed to, the Glugistan ruler laughs and gives up the whole lake to Blabistan because it is now a worthless mud flat.

But... it turns out that mud flat is loaded with rare earths that are now valuable in battery production. The Blabistans pick up a windfall, and the Glugistan ruler feels embarrassed. He is now plotting how to get a cut of this windfall.

The Blabistan government starts a state-owned mining company to mine the mud flat. But they are rank beginners at this sort of thing, so the company is incompetent and corrupt. (Both the Blabistan and the Glugistan governments are run by kleptocrats, but the Glugistan leaders are "Old School" and the Blabistan leaders are "Millennial" kleptocrats.) The Blabistan keptocrats and their minions are skimming the company.

The mining company leaders make a show of doing things right by hiring foreign technocrats, and then messes with them to skim off their corruption. These foreign technocratic middle managers get discouraged. (There is a "hero" in the upper management, but at the start he is not effectual.)

One of the "messings" is the mine is at first developed to be labor intensive, not capital intensive, so it can provide jobs for the Blabistans -- a social justice warrior NGO concession, plus easier to skim from. A mining town is created from scratch next to the mud flats. ...not quite from scratch, it was a small harbor town when the lake was full. But it has been abandoned for a decade now. And this new mining town covers a lot more area than the harbor town did, and functions a lot differently.

Migrants, rather than Blabistans, come in to run the mining town services. The migrants come because they are experienced at setting up mining boom towns. These are small business types who quickly develop the supply chains to bring in consumer goods and services for the miners of the mining town.

The Blabistan miners set up a union. But it is as incompetent as the Blabistan managers are. This union business is new to them too.

Socially, this is a revolution taking place in Blabistan culture -- they were shepherds before, not miners. There is a lot of uncertainty and the government starts moderate but steadily becomes more radical and authoritarian as crises are not solved. This governing business is new to these leaders; the rulers are still learning, so there is plenty of dissension being expressed... to start with. Then comes a crackdown, maybe more than one.

The capital is a small city. It used to be a backward provincial seat. Thanks to the mine and nationhood, it is rapidly picking up lots of modern conveniences. But there is a lot of culture shock for the Blabistans who are getting involved with living in the capital, and this whole nation-governing business.

 

--The End--

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