Onan Hash, new prime minister of Hungary, dismounted his rusty bicycle and made his way to the parliamentary chamber. He plucked a frayed silk handkerchief from his breast pocket, wiped his forehead, and stepped up to present the political review of the last year-or-so.
“We have enjoyed another fine year-or-so of robust economic decline,” he announced. “Our economy contracted about 5% last year, and greenhouse gas emissions are right down to about fifteen million tonnes a year,” he continued, not wanting to sound too precise. False precision and pseudo-science had fallen out of fashion a couple of decades ago.
“One of the main contributors to the strong fall in economic activity was our M&S Programme. The distribution of free Marijuana and Sex-toys to households across the country has led to broad reductions across the superfluous economy: in the leisure industry, in sales from out-of-town shopping centres, and in discretionary transport, with a healthy knock-down effect on sales of petrol and vehicles. I am pleased to say that record numbers of oil executives, car salesmen, media luvvies, and advertisers of fast-moving consumer goods have entered unemployment and are attending retraining courses in hedge-laying and asparagus growing up and down the country.
“I consider it a great achievement that hours of sleep have risen slightly year on year, continuing a healthy long-term trend. Now the average adult is sleeping a good nine and a half hours a day, albeit including the afternoon nap. The only cloud on the horizon is that a number of old people still insist on getting up at six. The Minister of Easy Living has worked hard to eliminate this outdated practice through organising a national unisex rugby league for the over sixties and encouraging more beer drinking in the evenings.
“Unemployment remains stubbornly low, however. The Chill-out Programme has been successful in keeping an additional 10,000 to 20,000 recent school leavers dossing about at home, but increased demand for manual labour in the food and countryside sector has caused leakage.
“While I am proud to say that the last strimmer in our country was destroyed not long ago – sometime last year -, the elimination of noisy and antisocial mechanised gardening equipment has led to some re-employment in suburban gardens. Agricultural demechanisation has also kept young people busy, but biodiversity counts have picked up encouragingly.”
Suddenly there was an interruption from the benches. “What about Do-As-Be-Done-By?” came a roar from Zoltán “the Stump” Regenkurt, member of parliament for Bivajhernád, himself one of the first to be sentenced under the new Do-As-Be-Done-By Nature Protection Act, after he had illegally felled an oak-tree at his country place. “Yeah! What about it?” came cries from the assembled parliamentarians. “Down with Do-As-Be-Done-By!” screamed the opposition. “Watch your step, Stumpy,” came a wise-crack from the gallery.
The prime minister recovered his composure. “Do-As-Be-Done-By is proving a great success. For example, three pensioners from Jakabszállás caught salting slugs in their front gardens have just been sentenced to 20 days in the brine bath.” He paused. “20, or perhaps 30.”
Note: Prepared with the support of the Institute for Building Ideal Societies (IBIS, offices in Tbilisi and Thimpu). This is the first of a series of glimpses into the future.