What will be the future of our political system and society in 2050? Although we have touched on some of the issues, our August edition will focus entirely on the fate of our cherished institutions and what lies ahead for all of us. Here are some of my predictions which will be discussed in the August Edition of Future2050.
As previously described, 2050 will offer vastly different lifestyles and realities to specific sectors of the population. The backdrop of society will see greater polarization by income and education than ever before as wealth and status become more concentrated in a technological elite. This stratification has become more pronounced during the Pandemic of 2020-2021 which has seen a proliferation of billionaires and economic slippage for the middle class. You can multiply that by a thousand. Everything will become more extreme.
Covid has systemically altered the American workforce by displacing entire industries which employed the middle and lower economic groups. The government has responded to a humanitarian crisis by passing trillion-dollar recovery legislation to keep the economy and disaffected limping along but at the cost of national solvency.
In 2016 when the National Debt was $13.7 Trillion, the United States was effectively insolvent with large amounts of the annual tax revenue going to pay off the interest on bonds held mostly by foreign nations including China. By 2020, the total debt has doubled to 26.9 trillion and continues to climb in response to the challenges wrought by the Pandemic. This number will grow exponentially in the wake of global warming, massive flooding, and crippling hurricanes, forest fires, and heatwaves. Critically, the likely outbreak of further pandemics will repeatedly shut down the American economy and accelerate the polarization of economic classes and ultimately the destruction or massive shrinkage of the middle class entirely. Our economy will experience a negative feedback loop as the loss of jobs will reduce tax revenue which will in return cause further debt and employment dislocation. Everything will go downhill fast and reach a precipitous tipping point.
What will be the effect of this economic dislocation and potential extinction of the middle class particularly if our government is unable to offer financial support given the proliferation of the national debt? It is a simple fact that at a certain point in the future, and potentially by 2050, the entire tax revenue and budget of the U.S. will be allocated to make interest payments to foreign investors. What happens then?
Various socio-economic studies and models predict that with increasing wealth polarization and unemployment, violence will increase across the country, particularly in the large urban areas which include whole sectors of the economy which have just fallen off the map. What will happen to the great cities of American and will urban violence infiltrate the suburban areas?
How will the very rich and professional intelligentsia (which services this group) fare? Will the urban violence find its way into the gated communities and country clubs of America? If the elite can no longer rely on the Federal government to protect their property and families, will they form private militia and forces to protect themselves?
As the infrastructure deteriorates across much of the country and employment becomes scarce in the absence of advanced degrees, rural Americans will form a more cohesive group and fend for themselves. It is doubtful that the South will Rise Again, but I would anticipate something analogous.
Will our national government and federation of states remain intact given the panoply of destructive forces which will crescendo by 2050? Most democracies and republican forms of government fail to hit their three hundredth anniversary including ancient Greece and Rome. Is the same fate in store for the U.S.?
A most fascinating subject will be to explore the future of Capitalism which will confront its greatest challenge by 2050 given the decimation of the middle class which currently sustains a mass consumptive economy primarily driven by expensive consumer products including automobiles and other items purchased online via massive outlets like Amazon.
Certainly, the economic dislocation will gut the size of the middle class. A larger determinant, however, will be the vast expansion of AI to service entire sectors of the economy currently populated by the very young, minorities, and the middle class. These areas include personal service representatives, clerks, secretaries, and even low to mid-level professionals including accountants, doctors, and attorneys. AI combined with advanced robotics will have the same effect on blue-collar positions. Computers will perform these functions inexpensively and better. As such, a large swath of entry-level and blue/while collar positions will suddenly go extinct. As with whale oil, these jobs are not coming back.
If you destroy the middle class which has predominantly purchased the consumer items in America and generated tax revenue, who will be left to order goods on Amazon and pay Uncle Sam? How will a bunch of rich people support their lifestyles if there is nobody around to buy their products? That is a most compelling question.
Finally, who will benefit most from the technological advances predicted by 2050 including a vast extension in lifespan and access to extra-human artificial intelligence? The easy answer is that will be the very rich. Most likely smooth sailing for them but with the assistance of a private army. It might get a tad bit turbulent, just so you know.
Come explore these fascinating questions and others in the August edition of Future2050.net.
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