How The Big Banks Went Down (And What Happened Next)

Personal dispatches from the bankless future

Art and text by Hallie and Nick Bateman.

When we look back at the catastrophic banking implosion of the late 2080s we have to take into account the prevailing feelings of the time, which were described by famous philosopher Jaden Smith as “pretty bad.” People simply had no more patience for the underhanded dealings of these nearly monopolistic corporations. After doling out trillions in personal loans for anything from a home to a mail-order bride, the banks had dug themselves a hole.

For the first time, the U.S. government did nothing to help. As the banks liquidated assets and desperately attempted to collect on their loans, it quickly became apparent that a more creative solution was needed. In a famous act of self-sacrifice, John Ash Westington, CEO of the Great Bank Trust, took on the entire personal debt of the country and promptly set himself on fire. As 99% of all debt was legally absolved, the YOLO Act was passed, which decreed that every American had the right to follow their dream. These are the stories of the men and women witnessed it first hand.

Mike Delphino, Accountant

My first thought when the YOLO act passed was “Oh, crap.” I never realized how much security I took in the fact that I came from a family crippled by debt, so a steady job had always been my only feasible option. I never even thought about what I truly wanted. I almost had an aneurism thinking about it until I realized that — you know what — being an accountant IS my dream. I was alone in this — everyone else wanted to be a rock star. I felt ashamed. But after not too long, I found out there was some mystique to accounting that I hadn’t … accounted for. See, when anyone can be a rock star, they’re not hot any more. Accountants are hot. Seriously. I got laid more times than I could count. And I’m very good at counting.

Noreen Pedrosky, Astronaut

Being an astronaut is pretty great. There are 400,000 launches per year in the U.S. The only problem is the money isn’t that good. I always wanted to be the first person who walked on Mars or whatever, but when the first mission landed there were so many people that no one could tell who was first. I got my name on a plaque with 75,000 other people. That really took the spark out of me. Nowadays I just do my job and I keep my head down. A paycheck is a paycheck and I’m just trying to support my kids. When they ask about my job I tell them to look for dreams that pay well and let them see their families.

Theresa Renald, RadioShack Cashier

One day I was just a working schmuck, putting off my dreams for a paycheck. Then the YOLO Act passed and I didn’t know what to do, so I stuck with my job. When the salary adjustment came through, suddenly I was in the same position, but I was getting paid a shitload, and I was wearing a pantsuit every day. I commanded every room I was in. I flew to Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, for work. Coke, caviar, all the company we could want — it was the Golden Age for RadioShack employees. Nobody wanted to do customer service, but everyone had issues with their bluetooth.

Arthur Couple, President of the United States

Well, being the President sure as hell isn’t what I thought it was going to be. Ever since everyone gets to follow their dreams we can’t just have one President. We have a different Commander in Chief every day now. We all have to live at the White House for the whole year, though. Just me and 364 other guys. You know, I really would have expected there to be at least one woman here too but I guess not. I get to work on June 11th — I’m pretty excited about it, though I hear it’s all pretty much fanfare. We only get to really pick one issue to work on. I’m choosing tax reform for mine.

Ed Wheaton, Homeless Guy

Most of the other guys I knew from the old days, when we were homeless, made it big in the fast food world. I guess I was different. I heard about how much money they were making, but it didn’t matter. Sometimes you just know who you are. I was meant to sleep outside and ride the rails. There aren’t too many of us, that’s for sure. It’s dangerous. From what I knew as a kid these guys would jump onto empty boxcars and ride for hours and hours. It ain’t the same today. Most bums who stuck with it died jumping onto bullet trains. And as soon as you’re on, the ride’s over. It’s not as glamorous as it used to be, but someone’s got to do it.

Actor, Rachel Darson

Hollywood changed a lot in those days. You really did go to Los Angeles to make it. The governor was throwing around the motto, “An Oscar on every shelf.” I got mine after a couple of months. It didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. I didn’t really know what to aspire to any more. It was like I just landed at the top and it was a straight, flat view, my life stretching ahead of me. I got into heroin for a while, which added some interesting road bumps, then I just went back to landing my dream roles. I got used to seeing my face blown up on billboards and buses. It was strange at first, and then it was just the regular old world to me again.

Kenny Purckle, Sanitation worker

I knew something was gonna go astray, like everything the government does, and I wanted to be far from the flames when it all went down. I thought I would pick a low-key dream that would give me steady work. Maybe my old man drilled it into me too much, but “follow your dreams” sounded like bull. I never figured I would end up as wealthy as I am. Everyone left garbage back then. I saw people leave to be movie stars, CEOs, race car driver, all of it. When they left, it seemed like it was just me. In four and a half years “garbage collector” became the third-highest paid job in the country, right under human billboard. Fine by me. I never minded getting my hands dirty, anyway.

Sponsored by SoFi, The Future of Money is a series of stories that explores a world in which banks no longer control our finances. Learn more at

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