In Backwards Land, there’s stuff buried in the ground that should stay there. It’s toxic. Instead, we dig it up and burn it, so it can harm everyone.
In Backwards Land, there’s stuff we use that should stay aboveground with us. Instead, we call it “trash,” and bury it, so it can’t help anyone.
But we don’t stop there. We’d prefer that things are completely backward.
Confronted with the people who are digging up the toxic stuff that ought to remain underground, we not only pay them really well, we also give them tax breaks, to help make sure the toxins will remain cheap enough for us to keep on burning. And the more stuff we burn, the happier we are.
We’re so happy to keep digging it up and burning it that when we’re not, we call it a “recession.” When we start burning more again, we call it “growth.” Then we pat each other on the back.
In fact, the faster we dig stuff up and burn it, the harder we pat ourselves on the back. And the more we reward the people who give us the most of what we burn — in coins whose number fails to shrink to reflect the destruction it’s all caused.
For people who burn less, meanwhile, there are not so many prizes.
Yet even all that wouldn’t make us fully backward. Just for fun, we also build big, wasteful machines that keep us from ever having to walk anywhere. And then we build additional machines to help us walk, “for exercise.”
Moreover, a portion of the stuff that we dig up doesn’t get burned, exactly; these are minerals that we turn into metal or plastic objects. With these, the measure of success is how quickly after we buy them we are ready to bury them again.
Most of those materials could be reused. But despite the damage we’ve done to acquire and transform them, we still consider them pretty cheap. We call them “trash” and throw them out.
But some of them are toxic, too, and if we don’t simply bury them here in Backwards Land, we send them to other countries, where people don’t consider them trash.
In fact, lots of people in other countries dig through piles of trash to recover stuff to use it again — one reason we here in Backwards Land call such people “backward.”