Sometimes I experiment with starts of stories. But I quickly run out of energy on it. Here is one…
The Shield went up at midnight GMT. Every country on the planet had a brand new border patrol. If your country bordered an ocean then the Shield was at your international waters border. The Shield was slightly opaque and shimmered on closer inspection. About every 50 miles a warning was posted – “Nothing Illegal Passes” in huge letters that you could see from miles away. At first everyone thought they knew what that meant, but then the catastrophes started. An airplane starting its landing into Korea when about 50 bolts from the engines suddenly stopped at the Shield, ripping through the engines and effectively plummeting the plane to the ocean below. 300 people perished. The bolts were counterfeit and therefore illegal in some law buried in the official trade documents. A school bus traveling from Canada into the US taking a load of grade school kids on a field trip. The bus driver had brought along his pet parrot as he usually did, but unknown to the driver, the parrot needed to be quarantined by law. The parrot suddenly stopped at the Shield as the bus passed through, the colorful bird seemed to be thrown straight down the center aisle to the back door where it made a large red stain on the glass, and made a lasting impression on a bunch of school kids.
Some in the worlds governments liked this new order. No more illegal immigrants, no more human or drug trafficking, no more refugees crossing the borders. Some in the worlds governments hated this new order. No more spies or mercenaries inserted into hot spots. No more spy satellites. No more peering into other countries business or trying to control them by proxy. No more invasions concealed as land grabs, or police actions, or cross border skirmishes. And no more stealing secrets by internet. In short order governments around the world were passing laws left and right, sometimes to their detriment. But soon, they realized, the Shield had specific intentions. No law could be passed unless voted on by a democratic society. Governments couldn’t hide behind obfuscation and tricky wording. Some governments around the world had to completely revamp what they were doing. No more dictatorships. No more ruling by force. If they wanted to change the laws for the benefit of their country, they had to change their ways. Of course there were some holdouts trying to keep their hold onto a dying country. Killing off the populace through constant internal strife, but they didn’t last long. As a consequence of this, new countries were formed, new governments established, and the people were the ones with the power now. The governments now needed to be transparent in their dealings. Laws needed to be spelled out and explained thoroughly in order to have a chance of passing. In most of the countries with established voting systems this was relatively easy. Newly established countries had a harder time of it. Convincing citizens to vote often was challenging.
In the first few years after the Shields appeared the USA was in turmoil. Unemployment was at its highest levels ever. No need now for border patrol agents. The military had huge cutbacks. TSA, NSA, CIA, Coast Guard, all were cut back or cut off completely. If nothing comes into your country illegally, then we don’t need people looking for it. And since we couldn’t do anything illegal to other countries, whole sub-sections of the military were dismantled. All branches of the military were scaled back to 20% of their pre-existing force. But Bureaucracy! Bureaucracy! That was the job to have. Overnight people recognized that all these new laws and regulations needed people to manage them. To caress them into law. To cajole the citizens to vote often. And so government work ballooned. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were created to try to offset the huge unemployment numbers. From the smallest town to the burgeoning metropolises, government employment was a force to be reckoned with. The Newest Deal, it was called. Harkening back to FDRs expansion of government in order to keep citizens gainfully employed. Small local governments and State governments were not affected too much. Some tweaking here and there. But the main government. There were changes there.
The State Department was now the biggest, baddest kid on the block. Negotiating and import/export became the most important section of governing. And it was time consuming and plodding. Both governments had to go back and forth to the constituency to keep everyone informed and to see if there were any additions or subtractions to the matter at hand. Because all items had to be nailed down in one document. Any changes to the document had to go back to a nationwide vote, so it was imperative to get it right the first time. Bureaucracy marches on. Certain factions tried to insert clauses to allow oversight or hidden agendas. But they were always voted out by the citizens. But it didn’t really matter because the other negotiating country also could see these shenanigans and would be negotiated out. Planes and vehicles traveling across borders needed to be extra vigilant. If one of the countries trade papers had a clause about a specific product or standard, it needed to be strictly adhered to. Thus avoiding the catastrophes that happened early on. Hundreds of thousands of people died because someone was negligent in reading paperwork.
Over time a mutually agreed set of standards in governing took hold. Negotiating became easier and because nothing was hidden from the voting public, a calm settled across the globe. People were free to travel and transportation became easier and quicker. Tourism and business grew and as more people traveled safely and the costs associated with travel fell, certain countries felt a huge increase in revenue. And with the savings from a downsized military, governments could start looking inward. As the cash cow of tourism increased, governments became serious in corralling graft and petty thefts around any tourist attraction or business areas, big or small. It became important to build up infrastructure. Rebuild or restore ancient treasures and monuments. Rework the roads, railways and bridges. Renew inner cities and build up city centers. Nothing Illegal Passes. Trust was rebuilt. People started looking at each other as someone you could do business with. Commerce was easier. Everything became a bit more relaxed because you knew you could trust the other person across from you. Nothing Illegal Passes through international borders.
But as always, there are those who seem to want chaos and discord. It’s part of their DNA. Part of their psyche. Part of their style. And so underground groups were formed. Some groups were military cast-offs. Made up of those individuals displaced by the new world peace. War and conflict is in their blood and money can be made by continually having some problem somewhere in the world. Some groups were gang based. With no drugs coming into the country from external sources, they had to look domestically for new distribution networks and sources. Some new groups were a bit more obscure. Former diplomats with no countries to continually have deep and meaningless conversations with. Former traveling prostitutes. Former roving slave traders. The list goes on and on.