||[Feb. 17th, 2008|04:31 pm]
it's a fairly common idea in the cyberpunk school of fiction for employers, particularly of mercenaries but of all corporate security forces really, to provide their employees with things like steroids and combat-specific drugs. There're a lot of rumours coming out of Iraq suggesting that this is already happening. Blackwater, one of the biggest names in what are euphemistically known as "private military contractors", have come under fire (if you'll pardon the pun) for the seemingly over-aggressive and irrational actions of their field security forces.
Now it's not that I'm surprised as such, or even particularly shocked. It was really just a matter of time before something like this came to light. Frankly I'm slightly stunned that a scandal like this hasn't happened sooner.
See, the fun thing about supplying free drugs to your ground forces is that they're addictive and they generally make it impossible to get a job anywhere else. A one hundred percent loyalty rate among your employees is really nothing to be sneezed at. As long as you're smart enough to maintain that ever-present ideal - plausible deniability - then any trouble that your employees get into is theirs and theirs alone.
Alternatively you can follow the Blackwater/Halliburton model and carefully maneuver your political resources into a position where you can basically operate outside the law. Seriously, look it up. They're not held accountable under US law or Iraqi law. these guys can do anything they want and nobody can do anything to them. Oh sure, they're monitored by the US state department (which is interesting in and of itself in a purely nominative way, in that the State dept. is running an overseas operation) but so far there has really been little to no repercussions.
The next step is to implant your employees with what we cyberpunk buffs refer to as "loyalty devices". These clever little things range from the subtle (like small sacs of neurotoxin implanted in your pulmonary artery set to dissolve without the presence of a certain chemical which the company has placed in the coffee) to the blatantly obvious (like a small explosive charge behind the cerebral cortex set off remotely in the event of termination of your contract. All done, of course, in the name of protecting our investment in training, outfitting and cyber-enhancing the employee. Plus, if you take the subtle option and don't tell them, then not only are you able to stop them from working for your competitors, but you also avoid those nasty allegations of coercion and murder.
It'll happen, you mark my words. There'll be a bit of an outcry, a certain amount of hand-wringing, some token lawsuits and sacrificial scapegoats, and then it'll just be business as usual.
Or I could be wrong. Let's hope so.