Kyeo's head hurts very badly. He doesn't remember how he got that way but he can guess that he's taken a blow to the head. That doesn't explain why he's not on a spaceship any more but he should probably not expect to figure that out right now. He looks confusedly at the non-spaceship around him for a minute before closing his eyes.
"Yes. Sorry, sarcasm is one of my bad habits."
"Saying the opposite of what you mean in order to be funny or show irritation? --This is probably not a very helpful habit when I'm talking to someone from a century in the future."
"It is a little confusing. I think I am following you all right."
"Anyway, our population policy is to make it easier for people-- especially teenage girls, who are more likely to be fertile-- to have babies. We've legalized paying women to give their children up for adoption. We've legalized paying women to carry children that aren't biologically related to them. We have day cares on every high school and college campus, so girls who want to keep their babies don't have to sacrifice their education. We have a child allowance, so no one has to avoid childbearing because they're poor. There are some nudges: for example, a girl gets free college if she has given birth to three babies."
"I see. On Ibyabek money is understood to be obsolete."
"How... does that work out for you?"
"Very well! You mentioned that you have public housing here, though, so that's good - I'm not sure what you do about people who can't pay for food -"
"We calculate a reasonable amount of money to spend on food for a household of their household's size and give them that much money, which can only be spent on food or gardening supplies or animals."
"Huh. I don't know of a reason to expect that not to work, I suppose."
"We also have the child allowance, which I mentioned, and we give money to old people and people looking for jobs who haven't found one yet and people who are too disabled to work full-time. Disabled people who can work also get money, but a smaller amount, because being disabled is expensive and they might need to pay for takeout food or special computers or other things we wouldn't necessarily think of. Necessary health care is free but if you want something that isn't necessary you'll have to pay for it yourself. There are some other programs that are cheaper-- paying for heating for people who live in cold places, that kind of thing."
This all sounds very complicated but if they have the logistical capacity to make it work more power to them, he supposes. Maybe this is easier to do by hand, and you need good computers to run Ibyabek. "All right."
"How does yours work?"
"People just get what they need without having to deal with money for it. I've never worked in logistics myself, though, I was a soldier."
"Are things... scarce?"
"- well, not everyone needs their own... helicopter, or what have you..."
"Huh. That's... a lovely future. Where things are too cheap to meter. Do you know what technological developments happened--?"
"Well, faster than light travel, and everything necessary for terraforming. I'm not a historian, I'm not sure what you already have in this year and what's yet to come."
"We have... self-driving cars, delivery drones, VR tech that works with touch, artificial wombs that work nearly as well as a biological womb after twenty-four weeks..."
"The owl didn't teach me 'drone' or 'VR'."
"Sorry. A drone is a remote-controlled flying robot, VR is virtual reality."
Kyeo can't help but notice that he has not yet been shown the moon. "Thank you."
"So, uh, you are in fact totally free to go right now, you can walk out the door and go to the public housing and ask for a social worker to help you sign up for food stamps, and I think it's-- important that you know that, that you can do that and no one will stop you. --I guess this is the part of the speech we wrote because we're used to refugees from Gilead and Mexico and Deseret and not from, you know, the utopian future. But that thing works the way you'd probably expect things to work."
"That's good to know. I'm not sure I need to be taking up hospital resources any more, though perhaps the doctors disagree? And also I don't know how to... shop for things..."
"Oh, if you go to the public housing and say you're a refugee and ask for a social worker they can walk you through all that kind of thing, they're trained for helping people who don't know anything. --But we would very much appreciate it if, instead, you would let the Cascadian government help you get a house and food and stuff, and pay you lots of money, and in exchange you let a bunch of linguists and engineers and anthropologists ask you questions about your home society. And eventually journalists although obviously we'll let you take the lead on that."