The two men boarded the spacecraft. It left the planet’s surface noiselessly and zoomed into space, defying all laws of physics. It is true what they say, money can buy anything.
“First day,” said the older man, “How exciting. I remember my first day. You will do well here, young man.”
“Thank you for the opportunity, Director Johnson.”
“No need for that, young man, call me Riles.”
The young man nodded awkwardly.
“Did you just graduate?” asked the Director.
“No, I graduated five years ago. I spent some time soul searching on Phobos.”
“Ah, the soul fields of Phobos. That takes me back. Now then, we are approaching Site 1 known as Elysium. It should come about right… now.”
A green-and-blue planet appeared in front of them in the blackness of space, the craft stopped instantly without any tilt or tumble. The screen changed to show closeups from surveilance cameras.
“What’s the first thing you notice?” asked the Director
“Pleasant architecture, not very densely populated I presume, not that many people.”
“I.. They are all young.”
“Exactly. Young and beautiful. We promoted a culture of physical fitness, youth, and balanced living. It only took us two generations to instill. They eat right, exercise, and make love a lot. Look, there they are, screwing in the swimming pool. No bad morals, mind you, just a healthy attitude towards all aspects of life.”
“I see. Looks pleasant.”
“You will have a chance to compare it with Site 2, a.k.a. Paradisium, in just a few minutes. A dreadful place, makes me shudder. Everyone’s fat, angry, and overworked. On Site 1, we market healthy food, workout programs, body modifications, fashion, and advanced spirituality. People are educated and informed. To a certain degree.”
The young man nodded. The view of a green meadow and people flying kites looked very inviting, but they left for Site 2. A few seconds later, the screens showed urban sprawls full of people in cars going to work or from work, eating fast food and scrambling about in a hurry. Swirls and swirls of stressed disgusting people.
“Welcome to Paradisium,” said the Director with a sour face, “Where we market cheap food, career, expensive holidays, electronic gadgets, sailboats, TV, and religion. Look at those people. Most of them unhappy, none of them really free. They hate their work, they hate their lives, they keep complaining. We show them beautiful movie stars from Elysium so they have something to aspire to, but we mostly keep them stupid and underappreciated. A lot of them eat compulsively and seek out psychological help.”
“Why do this?” asked the young man.
“We want to see which is more profitable.”
“And what are the results so far?”
The screen changed to show a table of financial results compared.
“Look at the profit margins. Would you have expected that?”
“No. No, I wouldn’t. It’s quite surprising.”