Jenni considered herself an environmentalist. Since she was a kid, she conserved water. Weekly, she sorted her trash. She even bought an electric car.
So when her city council approved a plan to become a 15-minute city, she was all for it. The way she understood it, central planning would limit needless carbon emissions.
Instead of allowing anybody to drive wherever they pleased in their gas-guzzlers, reasonable limits would be established to help with climate change. Even better, the planners would make life more convenient. Since under the new scheme every store, restaurant, or service had to be located within a 15-minute drive, it should save her and her family needless commutes.
It never occurred to Jenni that she could be deemed a “criminal” in this new system. At first, she had no problem with registering her car with the council. It didn’t bother her to have her miles driven tracked by drones in the sky.
It was the social credit scheme that got her.
Under the city plan, residents were not to drive more than 100 days a year. Violators would incur a $100 fine per infraction. That seemed reasonable enough to Jenni, though. She always vowed to bicycle more for health benefits.
But in year two, Jenni’s mother, grandmother to her two children, suffered a debilitating stroke. It paralyzed the left side of her body, making her incapable of speech, much less handling daily tasks.
Jenni wished she could say she was the kind of daughter who planned for such contingencies. But after she split up with her husband, she could only rely on one paycheck and there was little left over monthly to spend on the kind of assisted around-the-clock care Nana required.
Lacking the funds to hire help, Jenni had to do the work herself.
The only problem? Nana lived an hour away. When Jenni went to the council to ask for an exception, she received this form letter: “We value your commitment to protecting our planet. Please describe why you wish to be permitted to drive more than the allotted amount.”
Jenni dutifully explained her situation. Her request was denied.
The next day, she received a push notice that she was close to maxing out her 100 days for the year. It was only April and Jenni was desperate. If she didn’t drive to her mom, no one else would come. She had no siblings, no one to care for Nana if she didn’t do it herself.
So Jenni exceeded the driving threshold.
And the fines came. Or rather, they took. To her amazement, her bank—working in partnership with city authorities—deducted the penalty amounts.
But the problems didn’t stop there as Jenni had no intention of leaving her mom alone. She kept leaving her 15-minute city, despite dozens and dozens of fines that were draining her finances.
But the city wasn’t backing down, either.
After her 100th infraction, Jenni’s car simply stopped at the city gates. Some sort of external kill switch had been activated.
As Jenni sat waiting for policebots to arrive, she couldn’t stop crying. ‘If I don’t leave now,’ she wondered between sobs. ‘Who will take care of my mom?’
The last chapter of our new book Neuromined: Triumphing over Technological Tyranny (Fast Company Press 2023) is called you will “Own Nothing Be Happy.” It’s based on an actual promotional video produced by the World Economic Forum, the same organization that originated The Great Reset.
Here’s how WEF founder Klaus Schwab described what must now happen in his book published in July, 2020: “One of the great lessons of the past five centuries in Europe and America is this: acute crises contribute to boosting the power of the state. It’s always been the case and there is no reason why it should be different with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
We saw how the state seized power under emergency powers due to the pandemic. Or more correctly—states. Nearly every country locked down its population in 2020 despite stark warnings from (medical) professionals who warned of dire consequences.
Now many of the same people who pushed for centralized control over people’s movements are up to old tricks. They want to lock us in our homes again. This time to save the earth.
As Spiked-Online reported in October:
To this end, Oxfordshire County Council, which is run by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, wants to divide the city of Oxford into six ‘15 minute’ districts. In these districts, it is said, most household essentials will be accessible by a quarter-of-an-hour walk or bike ride, and so residents will have no need for a car.
Sounds nice? Convenient even. At least that’s how Jenni initially viewed her city’s initiative. But there’s a dark side to this arrangement. Here’s how Vision News describes what Oxfordshire residents can expect to experience:
Under the new scheme if residents want to leave their zone, they will need permission from the Council who gets to decide who is worthy of freedom and who isn’t. Under the new scheme residents will be allowed to leave their zone a maximum of 100 days per year, but in order to even gain this every resident will have to register their car details with the council who will then track their movements via smart cameras round the city. Every resident will be required to register their car with the County Council who will then monitor how many times they leave their district via number plate recognition cameras.
Extrapolating from Jenni’s story, we must wonder, should 15-minute cities become our new normal, where does such centralized control end? We saw how many world leaders exploited COVID emergency to amass power. Coming climate lockdowns suggest they will use the same playbook.
Unless we resist.
The “official” narrative has only recently collapsed on lockdown efficacy and the tyranny of vaccine passports. En masse people are rejecting such restrictions as anathema to a free society. We can use this momentum to say “no” to more power grabs by authorities willing to exploit human compassion for their own aims. Here’s to more of us in 2023 refusing to accept such restrictions. In the same way we must retake our bodily sovereignty, let us reclaim our freedom of movement.
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