Expectations Shrinking for Very Small People Project

Salt Lake City, Utah, June 29, 2108 -- A spokesman for the Human Reduction Institute's Very Small People Project announced at their annual meeting today that the group had achieved "only limited success" thus far in their attempts to reduce the size of human beings by 90 percent or more. The project, which has been coming under increasing fire over the past decade, may now be in danger of being scuttled altogether. Representatives of the institute remain optimistic, however.

"We're definitely on the verge of a breakthrough," said chief resident reductionist Dr. Albert Skulp. "I would say that within two to three months we should have a good chance of achieving our objectives of making people very very small. Up to this point, however, I must admit that our primary achievement has been to make them vibrate until they explode."

The goal of the federally-funded Very Small People Project, or VSP, is to shrink living human beings down to one tenth of their size in order to improve the chances of civilization's survival in a time of increasingly scarce natural resources. Originally proposed by author Kurt Vonnegut in his science fiction masterpiece Slapstick, in which the Chinese successfully reduce their population down to near-microscopic size, the project has grown from a futuristic pipedream to what may soon be a realizable technological ambition.

The population of the United States has skyrocketed since the contraception ban introduced during the second administration of President Rick Santorum in 2022, with a rate now exceeding that of any major industrialized theocracy. Efforts to promote abstinence as a population control method ultimately proved ineffective, despite repeated assurances by President Santorum and top congressional majority leaders that they had no difficulty at all following the program.

The closing of the United States borders in 2026, coupled with the "Reproduce American" campaign and the banning of women from the labor force merely exacerbated the problem. By 2050, the population growth rate had passed the critical mass of eight children per fertile female, and has now reached 16.

With nearly two billion Americans now competing for increasingly scanty resources, the VSP project was introduced in 2097 with great fanfare as perhaps the only humane means by which to preserve the American way of life.

"It's a beautiful dream," said Jeremiah Stipple, a leading proponent of the project. "Imagine what we could do if everyone were eight inches tall and weighed less than 20 pounds. You could comfortably house over 400 people in a typical suburban split-level. With 30 people seated comfortably in a single mid-size automobile, the three-day traffic jams experienced by the typical commuter would simply evaporate. There would be plenty of food and fuel for everybody. It's an enchanting vision, and we're going to keep working until we achieve it."

One controversial element of the project, however, has yet to achieve full acceptance by the American public. Given the fact that virtually all machinery, factories and vehicles are currently dimensioned for standard human size, VSPs will be unable to operate them during the transition phase, which is expected to take at least twenty years following the widespread application of the reduction program. As such, a large group of Americans, termed the Patriotic Regiment of Large Equal Citizens, or PROLES, will be required to remain unshrunk and act as chauffeurs, custodians, and technical, industrial and maintenance workers tending to the needs of the VSPs. Membership in the patriotic regiment will be involuntary and will be determined by the Federal Selective Reduction Committee.

"It's simply a necessity during the transition," said Stipple. "You can't drive a bulldozer or a garbage truck when you're seven inches tall. Once we've built enough tiny factories, we'll go ahead and shrink them, too."

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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