The International Lottery

 

1

 

Once upon a time there was a global financial crisis. The economies of all the countries of the world, so intricately entwined, were in recession. Everyone was hugely in debt with everyone else, everyone was getting poorer, everyone was getting stupider and sicker and more criminal, and everyone was working harder, and, despite all the hard work, there were no jobs. So corrupt and untrustworthy was the system of governance that nobody was willing to straighten out their affairs: credit was nulled and paper money was looking more like paper. No one understood why the crisis had happened, nobody knew how to prevent it happening again, and nobody could tell if things were to get better soon, to remain equally as bad, or to become much much worse. There was such a wealth of figures and information that very little was known about anything. Those who were best informed quoted the various contradicting expert opinions. This gave to much conversation, as contradicting expert opinions changed on a daily basis.  Those who were ignorant, tried to ignore it. The economy, the economy, the economy: nobody really knew what this word even meant. 

 

Well, one day, a bright young genius from Harvard or Yale devised a solution. He declared that the world economy had stultified because its systems were global, but the governance was national. Each country made plans to save itself from bankruptcy; these plans were often to the detriment of other nations who were likewise devising insular solutions. Clearly  a global economy should be planned on a global scale; the current parochial strategies were only making matters worse. The world was run by the global markets, and the locally elected politicians could only succeed if they accepted that their power lay in the hands of the worldwide money movers. Thus, said the bright young Doctor of Economics from Harvard or Yale, an international monetary fund should be gathered and invested into the global market, effectively lubricating the whole system like a blast of WD-40.

 

Well, of course, the critics immediately pointed out that there would be no way of persuading the different nations to invest in this project. The bright young genius, however, had an answer: no need to request investment; greed runs the world so create the fund in the pursuance of greed’s needs. Create an international lottery! A ticket costs ten million American dollars, each and every nation can buy tickets, as many as they like, the winner takes half the total money raised, and the other half goes to investing in the global economy. So, for example, if 10 million tickets are bought internationally, there would be a fund of 100 trillion dollars, the lottery winner would take 50 trillion for investment in their own national economy, and the remaining 50 trillion would be invested in the global market. There would be no losers!!!

 

The idea was at first merely discussed with passing curiosity amongst garrulous academics, but, one night, at a cocktail party, to which she had not been invited, a freelance journalist heard of the idea from a lonely postgraduate economics student. Thinking a story based around the lottery could sell, she credited the lonely student as a source and concocted a rumour around the idea. Her rumour declared that the idea of an international lottery was secretly in discussion among senior politicians across the world. Thus, an idea was made into a happening by the annunciation of a lie.

A popular tabloid newspaper agreed to purchase the story, and, after the editor had made the speculative article more affirmative, it was plonked onto the front page during what had been a particularly dry week for hard news stories. GAMBLING BILLIONS read the headline, with an amalgamated picture of various heads of state looking unhinged.

 

The next morning the readers read about the idea; in the evening the news channels and news websites were all running various tellings of the same article with the word ‘alleged’ being inserted when legally required. By the following day, hungry journalists had hunted down the bright young genius from Harvard (or Yale) and were asking for a quote - very much enjoying the publicity, the very intelligent young man confirmed that certain (undisclosed) world leaders had in fact been touch with him about his recent academic paper and were asking for advice. Reruns of the original article were published: now the media was bolstered with quotes and a short live TV interview of the young genius, as well as interviews with other economists and political analysts. The airwaves and netwaves and paperwaves were in a storm as it became clear that the public was keenly interested in the prospect of an International Lottery… Imagine if your country won! Imagine the benefits! A nation of millionaires! The story went global within twenty-four hours. In the space of but a few days, a flirtatious anecdote at a cocktail party had become one of the most enthusiastically discussed stories since the financial crisis began.

 

Very soon politicians were asked for their opinions, and if they could confirm any of the more outlandish rumours (the less outlandish rumours were assumed to be accurate). The politicians were flustered, they all supposed the rumours were true, and that plans for an international lottery were in fact in motion, but they all believed they were out of the loop. As such, in interviews with the press, they refused to confirm or deny knowledge of the lottery plans in order to seem well-informed. This of course stoked public interest further, as everyone understood that political evasion of the issue was confirmation of its validity.

 

A clip of a particularly inarticulate parliamentarian refusing to give a yes-or-no answer became a massive hit on video sharing websites. The rock star, Bono, performed a live acoustic cover on a late-night chat show of “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers (a not-particularly-poignant moment of popular satire). Several photoshopped photographs of expressionless politicians playing card games, entitled “Poker Faced”, appeared in magazines and were shared widely on social networks. In general, the press revelled in the confusion and the ‘scandal’ soon became known as “Lotter-gate”.

 

The higher up the political ladder the politicians were, the more paranoid. Heads of State assumed that other countries were planning the lottery without their consent, and that perhaps ticket prices would be levied for their own nation if they were introduced to the plan after it had been enacted. The American president was advised that it was likely a European conspiracy, and the European presidents and prime ministers were told it was certainly a hair-brained American scheme; the rest of the world of course assumed it was a Western project designed to exclude and exploit everyone else.

 

Within four days it was decided that an emergency summit at the UN was required and the International Lottery should be discussed openly at last. The secrecy with which certain politicians and economists had treated the issue was condemned and the more adaptable politicians were now using the line: ‘The public has a right to know’.

 

The UN summit, after all the hype, went by surprisingly quickly. The representatives of every nation prepared for the debate on the assumption that everyone else was colluding towards a previously organised legalisation of the International Lottery, and as such everyone turned up with intern-researched evidence in favour of the idea and why their particular country had been proactive in developing it. As such, there effectively was no debate at all and a motion was passed to legalise and instigate the lottery at once. It all happened before anybody was fully aware of it, and once it had happened, it was essentially irreversible. Suddenly everyone started to panic about the inherent complications and flaws of the grand plan.

 

It was decided that a minimum of 24.688 trillion dollars would have to be raised to give enough of a boost the global economy, and that tickets should be priced at 11.12 million dollars each. To start off the pot, the UN took out a loan of 50 billion dollars. America wanted all tickets to be sold in American dollars with a higher exchange rate (England also tried her luck by suggesting the pound sterling), but after much political strategy from the other nations, this idea was vetoed. There would be no exchange rate, and if any individual billionaires wished to purchase tickets for themselves, it would be tax-deductible. Advertising for the lottery would also be mandatory amongst all nations in order to keep up popular support.

 

However, these motions were the easy part of the planning process. The most controversial issue was on how the international lottery was to be administrated. The person in charge would be responsible for more money than the annual budget of many of the wealthiest nations combined.

 

A solution was soon found, however. All the ticket money would go into a private account on the island of Nauru, and it would be impossible to withdraw until after the lottery results were announced. Nauru is a tiny and remote island nation in the Pacific Ocean with a population of 9,322 people. Its government would be in charge of seeing the money was safe. When the Nauru government protested that it was unwilling to accept this responsibility, the island was outvoted at the UN. The island was surrounded and surveillanced by a huge UN naval fleet and patrolling airforce, and several international nuclear warheads were aimed towards its peaceful shores in case of emergency. No one would be allowed to leave or enter while the lottery was in process. If obliterated by nuclear holocaust, the private account on Nauru would automatically return all the money to senders. When the winning ticket was to be announced, half the money would automatically be sent immediately to the winning nation, and the rest would be locked until a decision could be made on its investment.

The winning number would be chosen by an incredibly simple computer program that could be read and understood by someone with only the most basic knowledge of computer code, and, as such, it would be incorruptible. An ancient Buddhist monk from the mountains of Tibet was employed to insert the data into the computer system on Nauru while being watched by 193 live cameras streaming directly back to their respective nations. Everything seemed fair and so the fun could begin.

 

Since the cocktail party with the flirtatious student and the desperate freelancer, there had been a couple of weeks of frenzied activity, but now that the lottery tickets were finally on sale there was an anxious impasse between nations. Would anyone take the fund seriously? Sure, the lottery had been organised at the cost of many resources, but it was not too late to opt out now - no tickets had yet been purchased. The pot stood at $50 billion: the loan from the UN’s starter fund. Nothing happened for several days, much to the chagrin of every politician who had pretended to support the project.

 

But then, to everyone’s delight, it was discovered that the US Secret Service, through a bank account of the fictional ‘James Gatz’, had bought several hundred tickets in the hope of winning the lottery by default as the sole bidder. Of course, after the uproar, almost every nation on Earth began purchasing lottery tickets by the hundred in the hope of denting the US’s chances and increasing their own.

 

As though it were an auction attended by children with imaginary money, the pot rapidly rose into the trillions. Indeed, it was almost surprising that no country made a bid for infinity-plus-one lottery tickets in order to leave everyone else irritatingly stuck in the realm of real numbers. Only a few countries refused to buy tickets: mainly small, poor island nations which were unable to raise the funds, and France, in which there had been very little public support for the lottery since America had taken the lead in its implementation. China also refrained from buying any tickets: its strategy was to pick up the pieces after the whole mad enterprise collapsed in on itself.

 

Some poorer countries bought a couple of tickets simply to appease an electorate with a gambling problem. Even the Vatican bought a score of tickets, in the hope of using the winnings to create a new, yet more lavish, headquarters in South America. Dictators invested entire annual budgets and even future budgets in pursuit of personal greed, and all the richer nations took out loans in order to fund their lottery addiction. Many billionaires bought tickets too, mainly as part of self-publicity projects, although some saw it as a decent investment. Everyone was extremely put out by the prospect of an individual billionaire winning what was fast becoming a fund larger than the US Federal Budget. At least it was very unlikely that that would happen...

 

In a typically frugal move by the Scottish Government, Scotland had purchased a single ticket: even some flamboyant millionaires, including prominent pop stars and actors, had had more dignity than to purchase only a single pathetic ticket. There was a joke going around that David Bowie’s cat (which had three tickets) had more chance of winning the international lottery than the whole of Scotland. The Scottish electorate, however, were happy with their government’s decision. At least they were still in with a chance ...

 

Well, the days went by, and the total lottery fund had risen way past the original projections that economists had deemed sufficient for a jump-start cash flow into the global economy. The date for announcing the winner was finally here. The lead up to the event had been outrageously extravagant. With the entire world media focussed on the story since its outset as a tabloid rumour, every television network, website, radio station, and public gathering was geared in anticipation of the International Lottery. Already a movie had been released about a billionaire who wins the International Lottery and with the cash sets up his own private army to take over the world - the film ended with the billionaire escaping in his spaceship to another planet where he would start his own new civilisation. Concerts and festivals were held across the largest cities of the world, and entire neighbourhoods took the day off work to barbecue and party in the streets, as the build-up to the winning ticket crescendoed. Everyone was imagining how greatly their lives would improve when their country won the lottery - and if not, at least it would mark the end of the financial crisis!

 

And, all the while, behind the scenes of the media-fest, grand feats of espionage were underway...

 

Spies were everywhere, especially on the island of Nauru, which had remained strangely quiet amidst the excitement of the world media. Every nation with a sense of self-respect had a plan to rig the results in their favour; no undercover endeavour could ever be more valid than this. The big mistake that every secret service agency made, however, was that on the island of Nauru, with its population of 9,322, everybody knew each other: indeed, most people were related, directly or indirectly, in some way or another. Thus, the arrival of hundreds of international spies on the island did not go unnoticed, and very soon each and every one of them was apprehended by the Nauru police department, with its 9 full-time officers and 41 volunteers. It was in the direct interest of the overworked Nauruan police to capture these invaders, because none of their families wanted to be destroyed in a nuclear explosion.

But the Russians had an agent with a distinct advantage - she was one-half Nauruan, and popular on the island for her brief spell as the NTV weather forecaster. The Russian-Nauruan spy, therefore, managed to infiltrate the computer which determined the winner, and reprogrammed it to select a Russian ticket number. Alas, after so much hard work, she entered the number incorrectly into the machine, an eight digit number with one digit mistaken. She had no time for a quick check-over before hitting the enter key... the ancient Buddhist monk from the mountains of Tibet who had been entrusted with the computer system, and with whom she had been sleeping, was about to reenter the room with two glasses of Coca-Cola. So easy a mistake to make: a slip on the keyboard when typing in a rush. And so it turned out that the eight digit number inserted into the machine was, by sheer chance, the very same which was printed on the single, lonely ticket of the people of the nation of Scotland.

 

2

 

2-4-0-6-1-3-1-4. The number was announced to confusion and silence across the screens and speakers of the world. 24061314!

 

But who has won? The connection to Scotland had been lost. Every phoneline and airwave in Scotland went dead.

 

The airports, railway lines, bus stations, and post offices of that northern nation seemed to be inoperational and it seemed that they would remain so for quite some time. There was transportation chaos as journalists and envoys from every corner of the Earth flew into a stalled Heathrow airport and booked out almost the entire London taxi fleet to drive north to Scotland. A surreal horde of black hackneys passed Hadrian’s Wall and crossed the moory border between Scotland and England, heading straight for the overcast skies of Edinburgh. Every road north of Newcastle was eerily quiet, the fields unattended to, the little towns deserted.

 

The convoy rolled into the ancient city of Edinburgh. Again, the place was disturbingly silent and apparently empty of life. On the pavements empty bottles rolled clanking in the breeze: there was a vague smell of cigarettes, piss, and booze in the air. Used condoms were an occasional sight by the roadside, alongside burnt-out fireworks, broken guitars and soundsystems, and the odd shoe, t-shirt or bra. They had arrived late: the party had finished.

 

The queue of black taxis lined up on the Royal Mile outside the castle and came to a stand-still. Confused, the journalists and envoys paid their grinning cockney drivers and stepped out of the vehicles gingerly, looking around in disbelief at the shambles of the empty streets.

 

And then, from somewhere in the silence, a voice was heard drunkenly singing. It was hard to make out the tune at first, such was the grunting and hawing of the voice, but it eventually became clear that it was ‘O Flower of Scotland’ sung more or less without lyrics. The chanter soon appeared, staggering into the road, shirtless, fat belly painted blue (or was that just the cold), with a can of beer in one hand, a tattered Lion Rampant flag in the other, his hair randomly shaved in tufts, and with ‘$’ signs scribbled all over his face in permanent marker ink.

 

On seeing the jam of black taxis, he stumbled to a stop, blinked, dropped the flag, and stuck out his hand to hail a lift. The world press stared at him, and in an instant cameras were flashing, tape rolling, questions yelling, and all was in commotion.

 

Not having a clue what was happening, but completely unfazed by the sudden chaos, the inebriated Scot, calmly raised his arm and said with the slowly enunciated diction of a drunkard: ‘Settle down, settle down! One question at a time, please!’

 

An American reporter got in first: ‘Sam Samson, ABC news. How does it feel to be an international lottery winner, Scotsman?’

 

The drunk Scot grabbed the microphone from the reporter’s hand, and looked directly into one of the cameras. He paused dramatically for effect, before screaming, ‘Absolutely brilliant!’ He dragged out every syllable to its fullest possible extent in the way that screaming Scots excel: ‘Come on, Scotland!’

The journalists could get no more out of him, because, following this summative outburst, the beer-bellied man waltzed off in excitement through the gathered press and envoys in a reeling, impromptu ceilidh dance. Caught up in the fun of the thing, much of the young press officers joined in the dance as well, and the analysts back in the studios were left to muse over the encounter for the rest of the afternoon with a mixture of intellectual portention and comic enjoyment.

 

After a few days though, the country of Scotland did eventually come back online. On announcement of the numbers, half the money in the Nauruan account had been wired to the Scottish government, and now it was time to set affairs in order (and a large percentage of the winnings had to be cut off already in order to pay for the party bill). Of course, the rest of the world was highly disappointed that they had not won, and Russia was completely dumbfounded, but the jealousy did not start right away. The joy of the Scots was somewhat infectious and the party had been open for anyone willing to make the journey. Following the hysteria of the build-up to the winner, and the stories covering the let-down of the governments who had probably invested too much, and the ecstasy of the Scots who had apparently invested so little, the rest of the world’s attention soon turned to the issue of the remaining funds and the revival of the world’s economy.

In the meantime, the Scots could focus on spending their winnings, which made Scotland by far and away the richest country on the planet. Had Scotland a population the size of India, Scotland would still have had the highest per capita income in the world, but as it was, Scotland had a population of little over 5 million, and as such, a nation of millionaires. But how to distribute such wealth? This would ever be a tricky question.

 

Luckily for Scotland, at the time they received the money, the Tories were at a low in opinion polls, so the Scottish Government decided it would be pretty uncontroversial to firstly invest in public health. Hospitals were kitted out with the most expensive technology and the fanciest drugs for all sorts of rare and wonderful diseases. Sadly, this did little to address the lack of healthy choices amongst the Scottish population, and the low life expectancy among Scots remained stable. But, nevertheless, they hiked the wages for nurses and doctors and created hundreds more positions for staff across the National Health Service; they bought four-poster beds for the wards, excellent artworks for the corridors (some people would visit hospitals purely to view the art collection), and Playstation 8s for the patients; hospital meals were brought up to gourmet standards: soon the NHS would be by far the most luxurious hotel chain in the world. Going to hospital was a delight - at last! People couldn’t wait to get sick again! Everyone in the country - except a few right-wing loons - was pleased about this.

Next on the list was education. Each university was quickly funded into a state of supremacy. Glasgow University became world leading in Post-Marxist Biologically Normative Intersectional Colonic Studies. Teacher salaries matched those of footballers and classroom resources such as robots and jets were made ubiquitous. Classroom sizes were reduced to four teachers per pupil, and more and more professionals turned to teaching as an attractive career. And, after a student vote, every child was given a pet tiger. Schools soon became places where children loved to be, and children were realising, with such a wealth of support behind them and so much attention focussed on their individual needs, that learning was a chief pleasure of life. Plus tigers and robots were great.

Income tax was scrapped. A Universal Basic Income of 500 grand a year was set up. VAT was scrapped, and beer, gambling, and cigarettes were actually subsidised. Council tax was scrapped; national insurance scrapped. Corporate tax, capital gains tax, property tax, and sales taxes were scrapped. Multinational corporations licked their lips. Glass office towers grew up across Glasgow, in the shapes of every fruit and appliance imaginable. It soon looked like the city would become the centre of world capitalism - a far-cry from the post-industrial wasteland it once had been. Most locals, in typical commie nostalgia, said they preferred the old days of smoggy streets to the new developments of smug elites. As such, all the corporate HeadQuarters were decorated with traffic cones in drunken protests, and everyone laughed. The people decided that they had made their point. Despite the postmodern vandalism / art, it was business as usual for the corporations.

The police received funds to reduce corruption, improve training and put more officers on the streets. They spent the money on tanks and ray guns. Drug abuse actually went up, but luckily no one stole to buy drugs because everyone could basically afford it.

Controversially, everyone’s mortgage was paid off for them, and those renting or living in council homes, were given free houses to live in. Old ugly housing estates were knocked down in poorer areas, and flashy new bungalows were built out of the latest trendy building material - Xmas wrapping-paper (all the rage in Dubai). Sadly, these new bungalows weren’t built to last, and most of the new homes fell down after a few days of rain - the old poor got shafted again. But it didn’t matter - they had plenty more where that came from.

All public transportation systems were replaced with a monorail which reached every house in Scotland, including those in the Highlands and Islands. Plus everyone got an automatic Segway for free!

Other controversial projects, such as buying the Royal Residencies and turning them into Techno Clubs, were pushed through, and Balmoral Castle soon became the second best night club in the world (after the Arches, which was reopened).

Also, the media was banned. Every newspaper and TV station was bought and closed by the people and there was much rejoicing.

Science and art funds were such that Scotland was soon attracting and producing the brightest creative and deductive minds. The Turner Prize winner was always from Dundee. And a Scot won the Nobel Prize every year (two of the greatest discoveries being: how to dry the rain, and a cure for the common hangover). What’s more, the tofu and artisan coffee trade was positively roaring.

Thanks to much public pressure, a grand investment was donated to Scottish football. This resulted in an arms race between Celtic and Rangers football clubs, and they soon came second and first in every competition in the world. Sadly, the Scottish national side remained crap. Similar investment was put into the sport of elephant polo. Scotland soon had the world’s highest paid elephant poloist (Njovu Thako) and he won the World Cup practically single-handedly.

Finally, a huge part of the budget would go to developing nuclear-fusion power to make Scotland a mighty force for change in the future. The streets would be fume free; the city air as clean as the mountain air; a nation completely self-reliant: the increasingly volatile price of gas and oil around the world would be irrelevant. After a vote, most of the nuclear-fusion funds went into expanding the nuclear arsenal at Faslane.

 

All of this seems all so good, and it was, for the most part, but, of course, there is always a darker side to fiscal accountancy.

In general, the Scottish government were relatively well-behaved: they had their licentious publicly-funded parties, their expenses-paid holidays, and their illegal investments, but such was the vastnesses of the wealth won by Scotland, their corruption was merely a licking of the cake mixer. One MP, however, did manage to steal about fifty million pounds and run off to an island somewhere. The irony is, even with this stolen loot, his quality of life would still not have been much better than in Scotland, such was the culture and peace and beauty of the streets, and the state-gifted benefits to every man, woman, and child. Every other country appeared to be a nation of squabbling savages. And, in the circumstances, as it turned out, they were...

 

Well, the first problem that occurred was relatively minor: ex-pat Scots from across the world came flooding back into Scotland. Many were half or even quarter Scottish, but this was enough to earn them Scottish passports and residency in the country - immigrants from England, Wales, and Ireland alone increased the population by one million, and Scottish names from Canada, the States, Australia, New Zealand, and hundreds of other pockets of the globe, added another two million mouths for the government to feed. Fortunately, an extra 3 million people hardly made a difference, and, in fact, the Scottish government was rather pleased at the inflation of population: it would help them on their way to becoming a significant military power. Most of these immigrants settled in Glasgow, doubling the city’s population: the metropolis was fast becoming a melting pot not unlike New York in the 1920s, and one of the most culturally significant cities in Europe.

Quickly, however, the government realised they would need to shut their doors to immigration, and a much called-for decree was issued stating that anyone who was not already living in Scotland could not be given residency for over three months; if anyone chose to leave and have a family elsewhere and then return in later life, access would be denied. It was firm, but, most Scottish people agreed, fair. They couldn’t have their country overrun by hangers-on and leeches, and have their justly-earned wealth drained away from them by immigrant chancers.

The new law seemed simple enough, but its implementation was a financial disaster. A hefty chunk of the budget had to be set aside for hunting down and evicting illegal aliens and creating, not only an elite airport border security, but a heavily manned coastguard patrolling the long and crooked coastline of the country. Eventually it was decided that a wall across the border with England would have to be erected. Twenty-six foot high, seventy miles long, topped with barbed wire and defended by regular watch-towers, Hadrian’s Wall the Second, or HW2, was the grandest individual construction ever erected in British history. It was incredibly expensive, but deemed necessary by the increasingly paranoid Scottish government.

The English were infuriated. They took the wall as a personal insult. The English economy had suffered a brain-drain as the new Scottish economy took off, and many of the top London firms had re-established themselves in Glasgow. Wasn’t Scotland a part of the United Kingdom anyway? Shouldn’t Scotland’s money be Britain’s money? After all, for hundreds of years the economies had been intertwined - wasn’t it England that saved the Scottish economy from collapse before the Act of Union in 1707? England used to subsidise Scotland!

And very soon, it wasn’t just the English who were irked...

 

The plan to reboot the global economy with a cash surge had failed. The debts incurred by the leading bidders, especially those in the West, were enormous: some nations had foolishly risked everything on the lottery. Inflation was out of control. The lottery money was debt money and, so huge were the debts of almost all nations, that the cashflow actually decreased. The debts owed by the richest and the poorest nations stalled the global economy even harder and faster than before. Nobody even seemed sure who the money was owed to in the first place. The economists said that it was the banks that were owed, but the taxpayers owned the banks. So, therefore, it was decided that it was the working taxpayers of the world who owed the money, and it was them who would have to work to earn it back. The world leaders despaired; the working people despaired; the financiers profited.

Some of the worst hit nations suggested simply nuking Nauru in order to reverse all transactions of the Nauru account and bring things back to the way they were before the disastrous International Lottery. It wasn’t until these aggressive nations were convinced that such a plan wouldn’t work, as the account was long closed and the transactions were now irreversible, that the nuclear warheads were disengaged. The scattered Nauruan islanders again sighed with relief: no one lived on the island any longer (except a half-Russian ex-weather forecaster, who remained in exile) - it had become a cursed and dangerous place.

 

But what about Scotland, the lottery winners? Surely they should repay the winnings since the rest of the money failed to save the global economy from ruin? The International Lottery was only fair if everyone benefited; the winner was only supposed to benefit the most. The world is suffering and Scotland is lording it over us all with its corrupting benefits, over-educated populace, cultural decadence, and party people. They hide themselves behind their wall! They don’t let anyone in or out! They dine on fine whisky and delicacies while the rest of the world starves! They hide in their castles while we die in the fields of our sybaritic overlord!

There was a worldwide slander campaign against the Scots, painting them as drunk, overeating, lazy misers, and all the indebted nations focused their public’s attention away from the problems they were suffering at home and onto that most selfish of nations, the thieves of the lottery, Scotland. Something had to be done about the Scottish keeping the wealth away from the world.

After much vitriolic debate, it was agreed at the United Nations that Scotland should pay back its winnings. Scotland, of course, refused. The UN threatened force. Scotland, defiant, welcomed force. An international naval fleet was assembled and sailed towards the British Isles; troops were lined up along the southern side of Hadrian’s Wall 2; and airforces began to patrol the skies around the Western and Northern Isles off the Scottish coast. It all happened very suddenly and with great speed. But no order was given to attack. The threat was hoped to have been enough persuasion. The international army waited at the borders of the small and affluent nation.

With as much haste, Scotland diverted its vast riches away from public wellbeing and into military spending. They bought the armies of the most indebted nations and hired mass legions of mercenaries from across the globe to stand guard at the wall. Soon, the Scottish army was the most technologically advanced and best-equipped fighting force in the world. Compared to the armies surrounding their shores, the Scottish military was small, but it was elite.

Certainly, the international force would be able to conquer Scotland and force them into repaying what remained of their winnings, but aggressive action would mean massive losses, and with the economies of the world being as weak as they were, war was disagreeable. The siege of Scotland stood at stalemate.

 

With neither side quite knowing how to proceed, the siege lasted a very long time. The global economy limped on; the quality of life in Scotland deteriorated. The war was eating away the budget: soon huge cuts had to made in the education sector, and these were followed by cuts in healthcare. The infrastructure of the cities began to decline and soon the castles had to be sold off to foreigners. The culture became more and more fascist, as hatred of the outside world increased, and all scientific endeavour was routed into espionage and chemical warfare. The state became more and more authoritarian as dissent against the war increased: civil liberties began to be stripped away and crime increased across the country. It was like the Gulag Archipelago, but with better banter. Things were awful beyond belief (but still actually better than they had been before the lottery win). Eventually, the money ran out.

The siege ended with a bankrupt Scotland’s surrender. The triumphant armies of the world marched into a ruined nation. Scots crawled in the streets. They were beaten. They were hungover. The world shrugged its shoulders. The armies left without exacting the debt. Because it was useless. There was no money left.