Stan had been negotiating a number of government contracts on behalf of Zurich which would increase its reach, and the Board was behind him every step of the way.
“Zurich Espagna has been tracking their Moroccan immigrant contingent, and despite their unemployability, they have exceptionally low PQs. The Claims department there is reporting benefits of G-Matching mixed race, and reducing claims. They’re only two years into the programme, so we’re talking a few hundred planned mix-race progeny, but the evidence was already there in the Moroccan data we got from Saham last year on their longer term assessments. I’m not sure why the immigrants are all so healthy, and why they’re not scoring more highly on social unrest factors, but I’m checking with their head of R&D to see if this is a particular cohort or just the general migrant population. There are differences in the ZE algorithm of course. They actually don’t weight the social unrest factors as highly as we do. You know, the Spanish are much more of a laissez-fair bunch that the Brits.”
Stan was making a short Board presentation as a run-up to outlining the Claims Strategy Department’s latest thinking that rather than re-scaling the PQ all the time to make the existing genome problems less of an insurance risk, why not move towards fixing the genome so that everyone is healthier and less expensive to insure?
“So, Stan, if I understand you right, they’re saying that the value of these immigrants to the Spanish gene pool exceeds their deportation price, so they’re allowing more integration?” Geoffery Grainger, the CEO, was always a step ahead, “You’re thinking about how we can bring this benefit in here, given the tight controls we’ve got on immigration. Where would we find the racial mix we might want to integrate? Have you spoken with anyone in the Spanish Government?”
“You’ve got it Geoff. This is all about relative costs and margin, and so I haven’t raised the political implications yet. In my view, the issue is timing. Deportation values on Moroccans are relatively low at the moment because they don’t deliver an active resource to the receiving market, and there is little resistance to repatriation. The Spanish didn’t have a strong case for sale to the usual accepting nations, and in normal circumstances, they’d be repatriating, despite Morocco’s desert conditions. The US hasn’t been bidding more than $5 a point. On the other hand, if Spain keeps them and integrates them, as they’ve been doing, the margins on premiums have been steadily increasing, as claims drop. These guys are strong.”
The $5 a point rate for deportees would equate to a $750 price on the head of each of the 12 million UK people with high PQs in the list which Stan had compiled of potential UK deportees. It was certainly a substantial bounty to the Government and a healthy commission for whoever won the contract for handling their transfer. If he was going to go against Zurich’s normal short-term planning approach, and advocate a much more subtle long game to alter the gene pool through bioengineering, there would be a short term investment, coupled with the opportunity cost of not deporting people with high PQs, and there’d be shareholder resistance if the payback wasn’t definable and timely. The problem with most genetic engineering was that one ‘correction’ often led to several side effects, some of which would be damaging. The key to good planning is to pre-plan through iterative modelling, so that when the plan is finally enacted, it achieves the desired results.
“However, Stan, the return on premiums of bioengineering is a five to ten year benefit, at least, given the time it takes for a generation to be born, while deportation payments or swaps are immediate.” This came from Martin Fuller, the FD. “Right now, Spain has Solar credits to trade and the US is like a bloody black hole when it comes to energy demand. They’ll take the Moroccans if the offer is right.”
“I know, Martin, but that doesn’t mean we always have to go for the quick fix. I know you’re going to argue share price, and cashflow, but we may be on the cusp of a series of opportunities in Crispr which would allow us to remove problems from within the PQ, rather than playing with the premiums and benefits packages so much. Frankly, if we take any more benefits off the UI package, they’ll have no cover at all. What I’m talking about is engineering more healthy, less costly people who behave themselves, eat less, want less. The alternative is we let it all slide and in a few years, we have far fewer people to insure. The birth-rates among the UI cohort are falling far faster than among the top quartile, as you all know.”
Stan had been involved in the genome programme for thirty years, and his vision for the management of populations had been with him since the very start, ever since the PQ system had been adopted nationally. It had only been in the last two or three years that advances in genome editing had accelerated, and Stan’s focus had been on modelling the likely outcomes of a wide range of potential ‘gene fixes’ in terms of the population. If one made people less dependent on animal protein in the diet for instance, and farming switched to arable, and if those people were also smaller and less hungry, less active and less likely to travel, other than in small local community spaces, the levels of risk, coupled with the reduced cost of living would be good for the bottom line, while the impact on the planet would be far lower.
“That’s all very well, Stan, but what about the share price in the meantime? What about the front loading on the cost, and what are the long-term cost implications if people no longer need insurance because they’re so healthy and hardy? I can’t see this being good for Zurich, and if I don’t, the shareholders won’t, and you just won’t get it through.” Martin had a nasal timbre to his voice when he was calm, and when he became excited or enraged, it became more of a whine. He had fought Stan every step of the way when Zurich had set up the Crispr Lab, and when budget approval for Claims Strategy R&D was required, and Stan hated Martin’s tendency to threaten shareholder revolt, as though he was some sort of independent voice. Right now he was whining for England.
Stan wasn’t going to have some narrow-minded, jumped-up fucking accountant dictate to him how he should operate.
“We need to see past the end of our noses here, guys. Get a bit of blue skies into our thinking and start to leverage the gene pool a bit more. I wonder, Martin, what your motives are in putting up all the objections. It wouldn’t have anything to do with Chatelaine Futures, would it?”
Chatelaine was Martin’s side venture, a small deportation futures house he ran with his wife. It was obvious to Stan that Martin had a conflict of interest which continually drove Zurich towards short term trades rather than investment in R&D, bolstering his brokerage business.
“Oh come on, Stan, that’s uncalled for. As you know I’m nothing to do with Chat…”
“Oh, fuck off back to your abacus, will you Martin?”
Stan often bullied Martin in Board meetings in order to get his way, and Geoff didn’t stand in his way, knowing that Stan was not only far more able and valuable to the company, but that he controlled too many of Zurich’s inter-woven business development projects to be removed.
Geoffery Grainger was also conflicted when it came to deportation trading. Before he joined Zurich, he had run a leading security contractor, and one of his first moves when he got the Zurich job was to set up a deportation processing division, under the code-name Egress. This unit pre-selected potential deportees from the company’s PQ databank, and set up pre-shipping documentation and travel approvals on all ‘at risk’ individuals so that when they did commit a crime, it could undercut competitors on the handling charges associated with their relocation. The Egress List had huge value to the security contractors as a predictive tool to profile potential offenders, and he’d sold it into his previous security firm even before Egress was fully developed.