Prognosis not so good
I want to have children, because I want to be a father. I think life can be beautiful and awesome, and the pain I experience does not compare to its beauty. But I am young, and have been fortunate to live a sheltered life.
To me it seems likely that the next 100 years will be very, very difficult. Not from great global financial reckonings or the decline of the US, but from global environmental disaster, water crises, and potential plagues. I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic (but that’s what pessimists say.) I’ve blogged about this.
Some counter: “it’s always predicted we will run out of food all the time and are always wrong,” or “technology is always getting better,” but that is neither predictive or very convincing.
I’m holding out hope, but it’s hard to trust in the world when *five* articles (some opinion and some news) from the Most Emailed in the New York Times today include these gems:
A Guided Tour of Modern Medicine’s Underbelly:
“Nobody expects American politicians to write their own speeches anymore,” Dr. Elliott reminds us, “and nobody expects celebrities to write their own memoirs.” Apparently doctors have now joined the ranks of the charismatic talking heads, mouthing the words of others.
Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning:
Adding to water managers’ unease, scientists predict that prolonged droughts will be more frequent in decades to come as the Southwest’s climate warms. As Lake Mead’s level drops, Hoover Dam’s capacity to generate electricity, which, like the Colorado River water, is sent around the Southwest, diminishes with it. If Lake Mead levels fall to 1,050 feet, it may be impossible to use the dam’s turbines, and the flow of electricity could cease.
The New American Normal:
Fragmentation holds sway. The stock market used to be a fair proxy for the state of the economy. Now it’s a market of traders, not investors. They want to know what the spread is today and tomorrow; they can make money on the way up or down; they care far less about U.S.A. Inc. So the market goes where it goes — up of late but largely directionless (which makes it harder on those up-or-down traders) — while out on Main Street the struggle to make family payroll continues. People work longer hours, they juggle how to cover their kids’ needs, how to de-leverage just a little — and they’re still meant to “consume” for the economy’s sake.
The Tea Kettle Movement:
The issues that upset the Tea Kettle movement — debt and bloated government — are actually symptoms of our real problem, not causes. They are symptoms of a country in a state of incremental decline and losing its competitive edge, because our politics has become just another form of sports entertainment, our Congress a forum for legalized bribery and our main lawmaking institutions divided by toxic partisanship to the point of paralysis.