REWIND: “Life in OSi a grim reality.”


Writing this morning about Matt and Ed and Erika and yard signs the size of Connecticut somehow made me recall this newspaper column, which was published on September 30, 2010. It garnered some of my most glowing reader comments ever: Nutjob, hypocrite, drivel, asinine and senseless were among the terms used by outraged readers who feared the thesaurus. Here is the column in its entirety.  

“Life in OSi a grim reality.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer Reporter

(New Albany, OSI) — November 15th, 2065, is the 50th ISindependence Day in One Southern Indiana, the impoverished, stubbornly paternalistic enclave that broke away from Indiana after the state’s favorite son, Mitch Daniels, suffered a landslide loss to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

While living memories of that time have faded, the impact of events continues to influence daily life.

Depressed and shattered by his loss, the former governor fled to a hiding place near Birdseye and declared a state of Major Insurgency Moves. Concurrently, a band of tightly-knit oligarcho-theocrats at the economic development agency called One Southern Indiana (1Si) staged a series of cynical bait-and-switch ploys, culminating in a bloodless coup in 2015 that wrested civil authority from legally elected local governments.

After undergoing treatment, Daniels subsequently renounced his failed political revolt and took up religion, becoming an evangelist and the leading American proponent of wealth accumulation at his Your Tax Abatement is Jesus ministry prior to his death in 2019.

Meanwhile, the former chamber of commerce gradually undertook to improve the quality of life for its top tier of major business investment partners.

Today, amid persistent shortages, the mood in 1Si is one of weary resignation. 1Sindependence Day will feature lengthy speeches and exaltations of economic progress, as broadcast over the 1Si-approved Clere Channel network, which Grooms bright Young future Stemlers for leadership in the community.

Most people merely will parrot the platitudes, resuming their search for firewood in the remnants of wooded areas, most long since clear-cut to build subdivisions with names like No Oak Glen and Elm Infested Acres.

1Si’s numerous manual laborers will get half-days off to drink non-alcoholic Victory Juice and parade past the descendents of the founders, seated atop the Tomb of the Unknown Exurbanite, jowly in their golf wear, drinking expensive, imported Corona Lights, and extolling the virtues of a non-union workforce.

Since the Great Oil Out of 2035, the parade has been non-motorized, and just a few miles away from the mausoleum are the massive unfinished hulks of the Ohio River Bridges Project, made redundant by the depletion of petroleum.

In vast, smoldering areas of a city formerly known as Jeffersonville, squatters now live in grimy tents, reduced to commuting by ox cart to mow grass at the homes of 1Si’s upper echelon at the Quarry Bluff gated compound, or forced to walk long miles to beg for alms at the Shrine of St. Daniels, owned and operated by Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana.

ROCK was formally established as the moral and cultural arbiter of 1Si by the late Commandante Stemler shortly after the Glorious Revolutionary Economic Progress Capital Campaign was concluded. ROCK vowed to purify minds stained with Democratic liberalism, declaring in 2022 that all pornography had been eradicated (along with most books and all competing political parties).

ROCK’s slogan can be seen on every desktop: “Free speech is the devil’s workshop. Work for 1Si, instead.”

Residents are not willing to speak openly to the few outside journalists permitted to enter 1Si. Their reticence is understandable. During the past two decades, as 1Si’s public policy council outlawed small retail businesses and began paying workers in Yum! Brands gift cards, it has become all too easy to lose one’s tacos, nachos and beanie weenies.

Miraculously, dissent has not been fully suppressed.

Thomas N., from Sellersburg, remembers the day when the One Southern Indiana operatives came to his street with their laptops.

“They were nicely dressed and friendly, but serious,” says the retired software analyst. “As a Democrat, I was worried when they started promulgating the 5 O’Clock Network Fundamental Purity Laws, but they were handing out free thumb drives to the kids. It seemed okay.”

“We were told that we’d have jobs, education and fiscal restraint, and we believed it,” he adds. “By the time things started getting bad, it was too late.”

A far younger man calling himself Koba expresses bitterness at the toll on modernity of 1Si’s iron-fisted rule.

“I live in a rental property owned by a Sodrelite, and it’s a piece of ****,” spits Koba, “but one day I was down in the crawl space, and I found these old books about green strategies and sustainability. It was like an epiphany, because I didn’t know there was any other way except consuming irreplaceable resources for 1Si’s enrichment.”

“I can’t let anyone see me reading these books,” he continues, “because if the 1SBlock Watch hears about it, I’ll lose my Yum! Card and be exposed as a Girly Man. And yet sometimes, late at night, I risk hacking through the firewalls of the 1Sinternet, and see how communities in other places operate.”

“It’s incredible. Did you know they actually have free elections in other parts of the country?”

Amy C. provides the official version of life in 1Si. She works as free enterprise re-education specialist in the Michael Dalby Institute of Public-Private Partnerships. As great-granddaughter of a Bi-State Authority member, she enjoyed a privileged upbringing and attended the prestigious One Southern Indiana University Southeast Christian Academy of ROCK.

“Although my spiritual guide, the Reverend Wickens IV, teaches us that we must be humble and self-effacing, I agree with all the central tenets of Stemlerism,” she begins. “We are building the perfect, economically developed society.”

“People who are not too stubborn to accept St. Daniels as their guide and fiscal savior know how to be respectful and constructive,” she concludes. “Given that we’re traveling the correct historical path, why tolerate people whose questions are no more than vicious personal agendas?”