Reviewer: Paulie Spiceflow
The Unincorporated Man is a science fiction novel about economics, corporate greed, and individual liberty. Unfortunately the authors of this 500 page bomb know nothing about economics, corporate greed or individual liberty. Never mind the underdeveloped writing style and pitiful plotting, the premise of the entire book is so flawed even Tim Howard couldn’t save it.
Justin Cord is a billionaire who froze himself and most of his assets to be reanimated in the future. He was dying of cancer and hoped a cure could be found in the future. When he is thawed out centuries later, he meets Neela (dangerously close in spelling to the Futurama character Leela) the reanimationist and love interest. A corporation known as GCI desperately tries to force him to incorporate so they can purchase his shares, which will be extremely valuable for some reason.
The central premise of the story is that all individuals will incorporate in the future, selling shares of themselves on the market, raising money for their education in exchange for paying dividends. Each person is born with 20 percent ownership goes to your parents while 5 percent goes to the government. The incredible transformation in the world economic system is due to a Grand Collapse that happened before Cord woke up. This über depression came about because governments manipulated currencies for political gain rather than protecting price stability or benefiting the economy. Stock markets crashed, currencies collapsed, and everyone became broke.
The Kollin brothers should’ve looked up what incorporated means. Selling and buying shares on an exchange requires an initial public offering (IPO), not incorporation. Incorporation is merely the formation of a business with a corporate structure. Most companies incorporate and never go public on an exchange. For a book about economics to confuse incorporation with IPO doesn’t bode well.
Let’s suspend judgment and belief for a moment and say, in the future, incorporation is redefined to mean IPO. Unfortunately this concession doesn’t save it.
There is one obvious question: why do individuals incorporate in the future? What advantage does it serve? The authors never answer this question. We never learn what personal incorporation has to do with currency collapse, a great depression or anything. At least I didn’t learn, I didn’t finish the book. So to be accurate, you don’t learn anything here in the first half of the book.
Why do parents get 20 percent ownership of their children? This is an enormous step backward from a social and economic standpoint. In medieval and ancient societies, men (I say men because women didn’t matter much back then) had children because it was a source of cheap labor. If a kid couldn’t work, he probably didn’t last long. In the future we go back to kids working for the financial benefit of their parents. The old system didn’t work to well back then and probably wouldn’t work in the future.
If my parents owned shares in me, they wouldn’t see a single dollar in return on investment. Most people don’t become profitable until later in life. My parents don’t want to extract profits from me anyway. It sort of defeats the purpose of wanting something better for your children. All of this makes me wonder how the hell this system created such an advanced prosperous future.
I think shareholders take the place of lenders in today’s era. The question is: why is the new system any better or efficient. I am just as responsible for personal debt as a management team of a corporation is responsible to the shareholders. The future society has gained nothing with this system; it is all the same thing.
What about government you ask? Shouldn’t they get some sort of stake in an individual? A government is vested in each individual, spending money on police protection, education, health services, infrastructure, and national defense. Why shouldn’t they get a return on investment? Because the money the government spends on providing police protection and other services IS ALREADY PAID FOR WITH TAXES.
Why create an ownership situation and need to pay dividends to the government when paying taxes annually is so much simpler and accomplishes the exact same thing?
It is a brand new revolutionary economic system that solves none of the problems of the old system.
To make matters worse, the book tries to present insight into a new libertarian legal system that decriminalizes all sorts of things including drugs and pedophilia. Neela tried to explain to the main character Justin Cord of why social pressure is stronger than law. Using the example of a child molester she tried to argue that while certain activities (like possessing virtually generated child porn) are not illegal they damage one’s stock value and thus creates pressure to conform to societal norms.
However, THIS EXACT SAME SOCIETAL PRESSURE EXISTS TODAY!!! Today child molesters know full well they are irreparably damaging their careers (if they have one). Society learned long ago that peer pressure and economic loss are not enough to deter sex offenders.
All this and we still haven’t gotten to the loads of style problems in this book. The book provides incredible amount of exposition on future events, future timelines, and little biographies on all characters, important or not. The info-dumping is long, tedious, and boring. The characters are all cartoons that speak and act alike. The humor in particular is only for children. There are also constant use of the phrases “first of all” and “I’ll grant you that.” The main character is an arrogant jackass who should’ve been refrozen to spare us from this nonsense.
As someone who is fascinated with politics, economics, and loves social commentary, this book infuriated me and desperately needed someone with a basic working knowledge of these things to put the brakes on. Unfortunately no one did.