Fractal is an American village of 100 people you’ll probably recognize. For example, one man named Wilson Corrigan controls 35% of all the wealth in the community. Wealth equals assets minus liabilities, and Corrigan’s assets are immense. He’s worth billions of dollars, and he owns all the major businesses and most of the prime real estate in the area. No one else in the village earns over $500,000 per year. In fact, few even approach this income, but a handful of others do manage a comfortable living. Ten people in Fractal control 75% of the community’s wealth. While Corrigan runs things, the other nine carry out his agenda, either knowingly or unknowingly, depending on how important their duties are to him. They determine who gets elected to public office, what information will be delivered through traditional media outlets, what’s taught in school, including the charter schools, and how the police force and judicial system operate.

These ten people promote a particular version of reality amenable to their interests. One way they do so is by withholding information. For instance, of all the documentation generated by the city government, over 50% of it is classified, which means most Fractal residents have a limited understanding of what’s really going on in the world around them. One thing they’ll probably never figure out is what happens to their tax money when it’s absorbed by the community black budget, which was designed decades ago to ensure protection from internal and external threats. By law, the village government has no obligation to tell its constituency where black budget money is spent although everyone has been obliquely notified that part of it goes to an information apparatus designed to spy on everyone, anywhere, at any time.

Moreover, while the official voice champions things like improved economic and social welfare, enhanced or new energy sustainability, better neighborhood security, and the ongoing protection of core moral values, a fair portion of the real system runs on financial corruption, secret military expenditures, unconstitutional information gathering, money laundering, and even drug trafficking, which is one of the world’s most lucrative industries. Almost everyone wants money whether it’s illegal or not, and since drug trafficking is such a popular business in towns like Fractal, money laundering is essential because it isn’t traceable.

Needless to say, the ten wealthiest and most powerful Fractal residents pretty well do as they please, especially given that they own the local media and can therefore frame whichever discussions, debates, and entertainment diversions they choose. Meanwhile, the other 90 Fractal residents own only 25% of the village’s remaining wealth. Since 80% of the local economy is service-industry driven, just a few high-paying jobs with room for serious advancement are available. A number of people fight like wild dogs for these positions, probably because the average Fractal family has only $3,800 in its savings account. In fact, just 23 people in town have enough money saved to cover at least six months of expenses.

Keep in mind, too, that fifteen Fractal citizens, or one in seven community members, live in poverty. They rent run-down apartments in a distressed neighborhood, where single adults make less than $11,500 per year, single parents with two children make less than $18,000 per year, and two adults with two children make around $22,000 per year. Five of these unfortunates are children. None of them can acquire the basic goods and services necessary for dignified survival on a regular basis. Often, they can’t access or afford critical healthcare, and the children receive inferior educations. They also have less access to clean water and sanitation, and they get by with little physical security and inadequate protection from the police. They lack a substantive public voice, too. In total, they have far fewer opportunities to better their lives.

Understandably, most Fractal residents avoid thinking about these things. They have jobs, kids, health issues, and not enough energy to deal with anything else. When they do find time to escape the anxiety, fear, and panic associated with their daily lives, they want to indulge in mindless distractions, not evaluate byzantine forces beyond their control. However, a few of the locals still believe in truth, sovereignty, and rule by the people. They know that silence and indifference damage an open society, thus affecting everyone at the most personal level imaginable. They’re the ones who will always question the official version of reality regardless of what others think, and every so often, they create an environment for positive change in their quest to convince others to join them.