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Willowmound
05-25-2009, 12:45 PM
I usually outline my plot before writing. This time, I haven't. It's been fun, but now I'm seriously stuck.

For my story to work, I need a reason why a business man would want to wipe most of North America from the face of the earth. He's not a terrorist (yawn). I want him to have a financial motive.

Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me see how anyone could benefit financially from killing the US. Quite the contrary.

By now I'd be willing to consider even the most esoteric ideas.

Please help!

profen4
05-25-2009, 01:28 PM
I usually outline my plot before writing. This time, I haven't. It's been fun, but now I'm seriously stuck.

For my story to work, I need a reason why a business man would want to wipe most of North America from the face of the earth. He's not a terrorist (yawn). I want him to have a financial motive.

Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me see how anyone could benefit financially from killing the US. Quite the contrary.

By now I'd be willing to consider even the most esoteric ideas.

Please help!


FYI-- get rid of the states and you've not gotten rid of most of N. America. you haven’t even gotten rid of half. Unless you’re speculating that Canada and Mexico are so dependant on the USA for trade that they would be bankrupt shortly afterwards…in which case you could be right…although there may be a few other countries that circle the drain as well.

That said, if you were just looking for a reason to Bankrupt the USA I would speculate that doing so would allow creditors to confiscate all foreign assets. Perhaps the USA has something this person wants and the only way to get it is to rip it away through bankruptcy. Foreign military bases and personnel would no doubt be recalled as the gov would no longer have the money to fund it. so maybe this person wants the military out of their country. (I know from living in Japan that there are many who resent the US presence--as an example). maybe the military base is on prime realestate and he wants to open a casino :tongue

Conspiracy theorists might suggest a bankrupt USA would be the catalyst to the implementation of the North American Union… see countless conspiracy posts on you tube if you’re not familiar with this theory.


don’t know if this helps you, but just a quick couple thoughts. Good luck with your story!

jfreedan
05-25-2009, 02:50 PM
He owns a weapons company would be my first guess. Some empires have been built on selling weapons to both sides in a war. To make that work though, he'd need to frame another country for starting the war.

RJK
05-25-2009, 08:21 PM
Wipe out the majority of the population of the US and you've eliminated the bulk of the world's consumers. No consumers - no sales, no matter what your product is, unless it's embalming fluid.
There is no economic advantage to destroying the US - it is your market.

Millicent M'Lady
05-25-2009, 08:29 PM
Maybe he wishes to start a cartel on products/gain a monoploy on a US-made saturated market? For example, maybe the bulk of a life-saving drug is manufactured in the US for cheaper than he can produce it and it is treating a pandemic. If he wiped out the US (and the makers of this drug) he could manufacture the desperately needed drug himself and force up the prices.

By wiping out the whole of the US, in one fell swoop, he both cuts out the competition and wipes out those who would defend the companies or retaliate against him. (It could be a while before the rest of the world could gather enough information to pursue him, by which time he would have a stranglehold on the world's health).

DWSTXS
05-25-2009, 08:32 PM
I believe there would be a good reason, to financially bankrupt the states. If he was prepared to immediately institute another form of currency that he controlled, he would have a lot of incentive.
I've read two books recently that give the scenario that the U S were financially ruined and caused a breakdown of society, and in the other, an EMP wiped out all electrical systems, and caused the same breakdown of society.
In both cases, the country, over a period of 2 to 10 years slowly rebuilt, and one of the first things that happened is that someone needed to reinstitute some form of currency.

backslashbaby
05-25-2009, 08:49 PM
I like these ideas :)

The best I could do is really political-economic. His home country has gotten caught up in globalization by the US. Doctors and nurses are leaving for more lucrative pastures. Businesses there can't afford to pay the wages the US pays, so the US is the owner of too many companies in the guy's mind. They are affecting labor laws, etc. He fears the lack of crucial services & goods in his home country (all cost related) and is afraid of the US gaining even more power there.

Oh, there are still problems with this line of thought, but I like the short-term urgency of it. If your people had no doctors right then, you might overlook the consumer-base problem, etc. Also, if you feared an extreme end result for your country, you might figure it's worth it, too: "I'd rather die than not be free".

Now I'm picturing Mel Gibson in Braveheart :D Woot!

raburrell
05-25-2009, 08:55 PM
I'm a little unclear as to whether you're talking about the US or the entire North American continent, but let's say for argument's sake you mean the former. I'm also a little unclear how catastrophic you're talking in terms of damage (could be anything from political cataclysm to environmental armageddon that destroys all life to ... whatever)

Financially, I can see motives for instigating currency collapse due to foreign leverage (i.e. the average American now owes something like 30k to China). If you're talking about loss of some mystical American resource that's available nowhere else in the world... not so much. Either way, go back to supply and demand and see where it gets you.

dgiharris
05-25-2009, 08:59 PM
Depends on your definition of wipe out.

If you mean eliminate the populace, then there would be a huge financial benefit: Real Estate.

US has prime real estate and natural resources. Get rid of the people, and you have Trillions waiting for you.

However, if you mean wipe out as in Bankrupct. There would still be huge financial gains. Indentured Servitude and debt are time honored traditions of wealth, as old as the oldest profession.

Imagine the financial power you can wield if 300 Million people are indebted to you, morgaged up to the hilt and living on land/resources that you own. You're wealth would be in the Trillions.

Some of the above posters alluded to US being consumers. True, that is a 'portion' of wealth/economics, however, they are taking a very short cited view of wealth and economics.

True wealth and economics has nothing to do with money. It has to do with VALUE and the exchange/flow of value!

There is value in land, value in natural resources, value in indentured servitude, value in an infinite well of labor resources, etc. etc.

Think in terms of value. Once you have value, it is relatively easy to translate value into some form of currency. Accumulate said currency and then you have wealth.

Hope that helps

Mel...

backslashbaby
05-25-2009, 09:07 PM
Yes, any more details on what kind of wiping out it needs to be?

And, how rational does he need to be? Folks do very extreme things for their beliefs and don't always know or care about the rest of the consequences IRL. That might be very helpful, imho.

DWSTXS
05-25-2009, 11:23 PM
The two books I suggested earlier are:
Patriots - A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles
In this he explores the possibilities and what ifs of a total collapse of the civilized world that we have come to know and upon which we depend. Hyperinflation causes societal breakdown in the U.S.

One Second After -By William R. Forstchen - What happens to the U S and the world after an EMP is set off. An EMP would fry all circuits in every computer plunging the country (or world) into darkness...no more electricity, no computers, all cars simple stop working....Total breakdown of society.

If you are attempting a novel in which the U S is destroyed, not physically by bombs, by by something else that causes societal collapse, then either, or both of these novels would almost be required reading. Both are well written and incredibly detailed and researched, and very realistic.

I highly recommend both, for both a research basis for what you are writing, and also from the standpoint of being a good read.

If you have a Kindle, both are available in that format too.

hammerklavier
05-26-2009, 04:51 PM
Does his reasoning need to be sound, does it need to actually work?

He could short sell a lot of large corporations and make a bundle when their stocks crash. He could then convert the money to Euros, silver and gold.

Although that sounds reasonable, it probably wouldn't work due to the total world collapse that would follow.

DeeCaudill
05-26-2009, 06:16 PM
I second the short sale idea, although it would have to be in a very short time-frame.

Here's the wikipedia article, if you're not familiar with the mechanics: Short Sale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_%28finance%29)

You'll need to figure a way to convert the proceeds of the short into real wealth that is not dependent on U.S. financial paper, which would presumably be worthless after the event.

Sarpedon
05-26-2009, 06:48 PM
Find a commodity in which the USA is the biggest producer, have him dominate the second biggest producer.

Willowmound
05-28-2009, 09:07 AM
Some great ideas here.

To clarify: I was talking about the physical destruction (land, people) of most of North America. I may have been a bit enthusiastic here -- more "reasonable" would be the physical destruction of most of the US. The effect would be the same.

I want my villain to be rational and not motivated by ideology. I know I've painted myself into a corner here. Your suggestions are inspiring. Please share if you have more. I will crack this nut. :Hammer:

DWSTX, those books you recommend are clearly must-reads. I too have an EMP event. Thanks muchly, I will order them ASAP.

Fullback
05-28-2009, 02:09 PM
Intellectual property. Destroying the legal structure and eliminating the owners of patents, trademarks and copyrights opens the door for new ownership of intellectual property in other countries. Europe, Japan and America now have a system that files property rights in all three. There are significant benefits to the bulk of humanity if most patents (owned by US companies) are removed. Pharmaceutical and new genetic patents are two examples. Patents on crops by American companies could easily become a threat to hundreds of millions of people if the "owners" wanted to really become nasty.

Intellectual property rights drive all technology negotiations now. The standards used for TVs, cell phones, car navigation, manufacturing processes, etc., are all based on patents. The US forced one standard for 3G cell phones on much of the world by threatening to cut off trade access unless the standard using the patents from an American company was adopted.

Shamisen
05-29-2009, 04:02 AM
Stands back as Absolute Write's URL gets added to a U.S. watch list :)

UndeadDM
05-29-2009, 10:42 AM
By now I'd be willing to consider even the most esoteric ideas.

There are guys who make an absolute killing every time the economy crashes. Do a little research on the guys who made a killing in this latest downturn, and that could give you some ideas.

There are complex derivitive markets where you are essentially betting money that the dollar will go down, businesses will fail, etc. That's how some guys made a load of cash in the recent collapse, they held all those derivitives that's value was based on the assumption that it was all a house of cards and would collapse.

So it's definitely possible to make money by crashing a successful economy. I don't understand it well enough to explain it (if I did, I'd be rich).

There's also the idea of investing heavily in a foreign currency. The guy who owns the most Euros when the dollar becomes worthless is going to be a VERY rich man, because everyone is going to want to convert their holdings to Euros.

Ruv Draba
06-02-2009, 09:05 AM
I believe that the destruction of the world's largest economy would destabilise every economy in the world. We've seen evidence of this in the global financial crisis. It would be an economic catastrophe to anyone who didn't see it coming. And economic catastrophes mean political instability.

There are numerous political reasons why you might want that instability. It would completely change the balance of power in the world. Nations who are afraid to expand could do so. Nations who depend on the US for deterrence would be forced to fight or capitulate. Some nations (e.g. many NATO nations who have under-spent on defence due to US NATO support) would be desperate to find new allies. Nations like Israel, Pakistan, and Taiwan who have enjoyed great US support would probably be fighting for their existence. Many South American nations whose governments have been shaped by US foreign policy might change governments or even political systems.

Nations exporting to the US would suffer export-market crashes. Certain goods (like car-parts, electronic components, oil) would become dirt-cheap and readily available; nations depending on imports from the US (food, materials, technologies, clothing) would suffer shortages. Stockmarkets would crash, meaning that hedge-fund managers (people who borrow stocks to sell then buy them back later at a new market price) would make a fortune. But many currencies would collapse too, since the value of currency is tied to the balance of trade.

The price of gold would probably shoot through the roof if US bullion stocks were destroyed or became unavailable -- people often buy gold when international trade collapses.

US banking is so central to world commerce that their outright destruction might well cause depression in all the developing nations. High unemployment (20% or more) would result in dirt-cheap labour, housing shortages (unemployed people migrate to cities) and food shortages. Governments would beggar themselves dealing with the crisis.

The US has a huge media and entertainment industry. That would disappear, making room for new players when people had money to spend again.

You could make wealth from these events in lots of ways if you knew they were coming, but the trick would be to convert the wealth into something that would endure the devaluation of currency... So, gold, real-estate, oil or any natural resource likely to be in demand when the economy picks up again.

I can't help but feel though that unless your antagonist is engaged in Superpower-level foreign policy strategy, or is an utterly xenophobically militant, whatever economic goals might be served by the destruction of the US, they could be met by something much less catastrophic.

Willowmound
06-02-2009, 11:52 AM
Ruv Draba, that was a very thoughtful post. You've highlighted some interesting points.

I have actually found a solution now. I'm sort of circumventing the problem by making the destruction a side effect of the villain's plot rather than the goal. I'd explain, but I'm horribly hung over.

Thanks everyone for helping out!

Stijn Hommes
06-02-2009, 12:51 PM
Wipe out the majority of the population of the US and you've eliminated the bulk of the world's consumers. No consumers - no sales, no matter what your product is, unless it's embalming fluid.
There is no economic advantage to destroying the US - it is your market. Not by a longshot. You're forgetting about Asia which has far more consumers than the US. China alone has more people...

Stijn Hommes
06-02-2009, 12:57 PM
The US has a national debt of over $10 trillion (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7660409.stm). So there's no need to financially ruin the place. It's already bankrupt.

RJK
06-02-2009, 04:39 PM
@ Stijn - Both China and India have many more people than the US, but the US is still the largest consumer, by far, and I don't mean per capita. Take a look at the statistics.

backslashbaby
06-02-2009, 04:53 PM
And Asians would not have the same incomes by far if their most crucial consumer base were wiped out. This matters for them and for anyone using them as a consumer base (less income, fewer things bought).

benbradley
06-02-2009, 06:46 PM
The price of gold would probably shoot through the roof if US bullion stocks were destroyed or became unavailable -- people often buy gold when international trade collapses.
Go for Fort Knox. Gold wouldn't be destroyed unless you put a nuke/hydrogen bomb right on top of it and it heats up enough to boil away and evaporate. If it as much as melts you've got a big mess on your hands, but at least it's still there under all the rubble.

You'll need a convoy of tractor-trailers, forklifts and drivers for them, and a waiting ship or two at the nearest seaport. And watch out for pirates.

Be sure your sailors can navigate with sextants, sliderules and such, because GPS will become inaccurate and eventually fail without continued maintenance paid for by the US Government.

All this weight of gold and moving it around makes one long for something with a higher value-to-weight ratio, such as illegal drugs, but you've just destroyed the biggest consumer market for that, so the drug trade will collapse.

This is not my idea, and I'm posting under a stolen AW login account. :D

cherubsmummy
06-03-2009, 11:18 AM
@ Stijn - Both China and India have many more people than the US, but the US is still the largest consumer, by far, and I don't mean per capita. Take a look at the statistics.

I'd like to see the statistics. It was my understanding that China had overtaken the US's consumption in practically everything but oil. http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update45.htm This is in spite of the per capita income being around a fifth of the US average.

My personal experience here in Australia is with the coal industry. Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal, and in 2008 eighty percent of the coal we exported went to Asia. That's some pretty hefty consumption. http://www.australiancoal.com.au/the-australian-coal-industry_coal-exports.aspx

RJK
06-03-2009, 05:48 PM
I stand corrected - One of the articles I read stated that the population of North America, and western Europe make up 12% of the earth's population and consume 60% of everything produced. That article was also written in 2005.