Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let Me Take A Look In My Crystal Ball...

Ah, yes. The future. That wonderful time that I'm sure will be pleasant. Eventually. However, it seems to me that there is a very vocal segment of the American population that doesn't want a future. And these people have gotten into power, and they're making policies in a not-so-veiled and not-really-well-though-out attempt to stop it. So, following the whole economic crisis we had this past weekend, I've been prompted to take a step back and look at the direction we're heading. Keep in mind, some of this stuff I've been predicting now since the early part of the century (2004/6 at least.) I predicted the rise of something similar to the Tea Party. I know it has no bearing now, because I have no proof, but let met make a similar set of predictions/promises based on what's happening now. Let me look into my crystal ball at the future, and show you what I see. And trust me. It's not pleasant.

1. Americans do not vote. Fewer and fewer liberal Americans vote in the elections that actually matter; the senatorial and gubernatorial elections. The reasons are manifold; most liberals of voters are poor, some are single parents who are working two or three jobs (and thankful to have those jobs), some are jobless and destitute, some are minorities, most have jobs and work, most are all of the above and then some I'm forgetting. When you combine these reasons with the Republican gerrymandering of districts to make it even more difficult for the liberals to go out and vote, even fewer liberals will. America, then, becomes represented by the White conservative minority who consist of mostly retired individuals or individuals who are so strongly convicted in their (wrongheaded) beliefs that they'd drive half-way across the country to vote. Conservatives vote more the Liberals do in the elections that actually matter.

1.5. Republicans are staunchy against "entitlements" (that is, the stuff you pay for with your tax dollars to have access to should you need them). What, exactly, constitutes these "entitlements" varies, but most would like to see state aid to poor (read: Black, single mothers) removed, while keeping tax credits for private jet ownership. Some on the right posit a "government a la carte" system, the ultimate capitalist system, where by you pay your taxes to the state but then also pay for whatever services you want rendered - a monthly fee to get help from the police, for instance. If you don't pay the fee, you get no help from the police.

2. Right now, we run secret prisons overseas, in countries that are more than happy to overlook civil right violations. The purpose of this is three-fold; the first is to isolate potential "terrorists" and remove them from the greater society. The second and third are this: they're on foreign soil for so they can be readily denied at the moment's notice, and because it helps us prop up these regimes (after all, I imagine we pay them to house these prisons in their countries.) These regimes are not regimes recognized for their humanistic achievements. And the scary part? Most Americans do not care.

3. The Right controls the way language is used in this country. This has been a steady thing; gradually increasing in prominence over the years until we're at the point where we are now. The language of the debate is framed by them; our so-called "media" won't question them at all, and in a desperate bid to remain "neutral", they refuse to call out the stupid and dangerous ideas cropping up on the Right. They refuse to call incidences of Christian terrorism and Right-wing terrorism what they are. So, instead, they focus on Bread and Circuses, who's marrying who, who's in rehab, and general celebrity worship - the one thing they can't get accused of being biased over. That leaves any real reporting to the Opinionated Talking Heads, who are not the individuals that need to be doing it.

4. While I'm on media bias: our media is biased towards laziness and sensationalism. 24 hour news is at the mercy of the sponsors, and if they can't get sponsors, then they'll be taken off the air. Thus, they do what is necessary to bring in views. It often means sensationalizing things, half-reporting what's going on, an "debating" things that don't need to be debated. Take a look at the most trusted news program on television: it's hosted by a comedian, who has said numerous times that his show is not a news program. That's not knocking Stewart - he does a fantastic job - but he's a comedian. Not a reporter.

5. And on that sponsorship of the news media: our media is not free. It's beholden to the corporate dollar; each company that buys money for airtime to support the news network is one more corporate dollar that the network needs to try to keep in order to stay afloat. But it's more than that - there are numerous other companies that own stock in our media networks. That's right - the media is corporate owned. Of course, you probably knew that already.

6. Our education system gradually crumbles and deteriorates. This new debt ceiling bill means that they'll have to find funds to cut somewhere, and together with the strong anti-union bias in this country, you're looking at seeing more drastic cuts to our public school system. Perhaps even the dismantling of the Department of Education, the federal entity that makes sure that all of the schools are on the same page and that everyone gets (or is supposed to get) the education that the society deems they need, in addition to the entity that rates schools and judges by their test scores who gets what for federal funding. More kids in a classroom, less books, more challenges means more good teachers leaving the profession for something else. It means those kids aren't getting what they need to get as far as education goes. It means that the system ultimately breaks, because it can't function without support.

7. The attack on reproductive freedoms is nothing if not smoke and mirrors to hid a series of blatant lies, and the lying liars who tell them. And they've made great progress over the last few years - they've come within a hair's breadth of overturning Roe v. Wade. Birth control, punishing women for having miscarriages, making pregnancy a crime, bringing the state in the bedroom - they've been scarily successful.

8. The general destruction of unions, not just teacher unions. I do not understand the anti-union hysteria in this country. It's the ultimate case of "you're hurting yourself, you stupid fucker," but that's just my personal opinion. Unions are the leveraging point. If you want to call it collective bargaining, good. It is. We need it, otherwise the lower classes would continually be exploited. With the opening of free trade, those companies decided they didn't want to have to deal with the unions anymore, and they made their way overseas. In order to get them back, we have to lower our standards, otherwise we have no jobs.

Now let's put those pieces together:

You can't count on the left wing voters, because as times go on, they'll become more and more marginalized. They won't have the education they need, being minorities, and they'll be handling kids. Lots of them, because the tools to prevent them will not be there.

Once the schools start getting smacked, the people who depend upon public schools can no longer rely on them. There's a loud outcry against the dilapidated state, and the voucher system is resurrected. The public schools are ultimately dismantled completely, and the voucher system works only as well as the government funding lets it. Which, in this case, isn't very well, because education has never been a huge priority. If you use the voucher system, your schools of choice will be limited only to the corporations that run schools who accept them. If no school accepts them in your area, that's your misfortune for living in that area. Now, these corporate schools will run the school like they're corporations. This means throwing out or downgrading those kids who can't keep up. That means special education kids will not be accepted. Children with an IQ so low, or children who have difficulties, be they mental or physical, will be left by the side. Accepting those students means that you'll be lowering your competitiveness with schools that don't. Which means you'll get less voucher money; and with a corporation, the bottom line is all that matters. Teachers, if they're left at all, will be expected to move with assembly line efficiency in a setting that is not conducive to it. The corporation will set the standards, because there is no government set standards anymore, meaning that there will certainly be entities that game the books to make their schools look better than they actually are to sucker unsuspecting parents in, until they're caught, shut down, and those kids are thrown out on the street to go to yet another school like it. I'm only talking about lower class kids here - it's obvious that the rich kids will be well taken care of. America takes care of her rich. I see no reason why this should change.

So what's this mean? This means we'll have a hugely uneducated population and an uneducated workforce. Corporations cannot handle an uneducated workforce, so the only kind of work we'll be drawing to this country isn't any kind of high technology work. Our position as a technological innovator will be gone within 20 years. We'll end up relying on the rest of the world for technology.

But this is made worse. See, by removing reproductive choices, what you end up doing, ultimately, is causing a boom in two things: STDs and the population. People who are poor are stressed - stress is not healthy for you psychologically. Alcoholism will become rampant, and so will drug use, as people try to escape the destitution that they experience day in and day out. Because sex feels good, and because sex education probably went with the public education system (corporation: why do I have to teach that? Look, there's no questions about it on our test, okay? If it's not there on the test, it's pumping their head full of information they don't need. So we won't even bother), women will find themselves pregnant. A lot. Many times. And without the tools for safe sex, STDs will spike. I guarantee it. This population spike means there's more people to cram in this crappy education system. There's more people to burden that system, which will spit them back out without any kind knowledge beyond what the corporation deemed necessary for them to pass the tests, and therefore, unequipped to handle any kind of major job. There will be more people and less jobs, which will make returning those unions, and that worker equality, a pipe dream.

And there's no healthcare. See, you have to have money to have insurance. I pay 104 dollars a month for my insurance plan, and I don't get much with it. It's a 40/60 plan, with me paying up 5,000 dollars should I need hospitalization. That's $104.00 a month; I have a part-time job that pays for it. These people will not have jobs. They will not be able to afford that 104.00 a month. They will not have healthcare. They will get sick, severely, with these diseases, and these diseases will go untreated. After all, the Right insists on low government intervention. They will die of diseases that should be preventable. The average life expectancy will plummet to developing world levels.

The population is unsustainable. The current climate and environment is having a nasty impact on the south right now; if something isn't done, that'll only get worse, not better. When you can't grow food to support a population spike, what happens? Well, nature has ways of culling the herd; famine and disease. Intercity gang wars over territory and food - oh, and yes, crime will not just be a problem. It will be way of life. Without funding , cities will have to cut somewhere. A city south of here, Pontiac, has just cut it's entire police force. Let me repeat that - Pontiac, Michigan no longer has a police force; they're relying on the county to do the police work for them. If you don't think it'll happen, you're being dense. What's more, there will be a push for "government a la carte"; that is, government where you pay for what services you want. They have that already. Imagine what'll happen when police are put there, because in some parts of Tennessee (or maybe it was Kentucky), the fire department is already on that list. If you don't pay your fire department fee, you don't get fire department services. If you don't pay your police fee, you don't get private mercenary police services. Now, I'll admit that may be a little bit out there, but when you as a city don't have any money, and there's no place else to cut, where do you start? Obviously you won't be making any money from taxes, because, well, nobody will have any money to tax. And you don't tax the rich; so you've got something like 40-50% who can't pay taxes, and 2% who don't pay taxes, or get every cent back in write-offs at the end of the year. So anyway, this crime thing - gang warfare will kill people off quickly. It'll quickly escalate to warfare over things like food and clean water (something else that might get cut; or become especially rare as climate change/global warming turns the world inside out). More drugs, more drop outs of a crappy education system, more people being born into this environment where they don't even bother trying. Back alley abortions will be the only option for HIV and drug-addled women who already have five children they can't take care of and are lucid enough to know they don't need a sixth.

Have I scared you sufficiently yet? Because I'm not done.

Remember how I said that because liberals either can't or don't get out and vote, conservatives routinely win? It won't take them long before they're rolling back the social successes of the era. Homosexuality will be considered a crime of some sort. Whether it will be a felony or a misdemeanor will depend upon how much control you're willing to give the dying banshees of the Religious Right. I'm not going to give them much control, because I know they're a dead breed. They're going, going, gone, and frankly, I'll be pissing on their collective grave when they're dead. It couldn't happen to nicer bunch of assholes. But the media, ever scared to question, will give the impression that there's still some force left, so everyone (or, at least, those in power) will think they're still an authority of some kind. So they'll bend over backwards to appease them. I know a few gay people. I'm rather partial to them, they tend to be my friends. The thought of them being railroaded and thrown in a private prison (who pays off the judges and prosecutors so they can make money; every inmate is that much more money from the government, $$$$$). If you stand up and shout, well, who's to say that you won't get labeled a terrorist and vanish? The term has no meaning; in fact, there are plenty on the right - the more vocal of that collective breed of twisted asswipes -  who already shout that left wingers who criticize their authority are treasonous.

And then there's our infrastructure. It's gradually sliding down hill as it is; be careful of the potholes, they'll eat your damn car (or rip the bottom out, whichever). Our power grid is ancient. Our roads need work. Our Internet infrastructure is on par with Italy and Spain, rather than Germany or Japan. And that's today, as of Wednesday, August 3, 2011. Power outages and rolling brownouts will become normal thing. Especially during those hot summers. The heat will only get worse. The winters will only get colder. Food and fresh water will become stressed and in short supply. Wealthy and high tech industries couldn't survive here. They just couldn't. They'd either invest in the local infrastructure or they'd take off somewhere else where they could find the infrastructure they needed and the educated population they needed in order to thrive. The corporations that'd be sticking around wouldn't be any that we wanted to stick around, because they'd have no use for any of it to begin with, because if there was a place with a better infrastructure, they'd be there in a heartbeat.

Will this lead to Fascism? That depends. Americans by in large are authoritarian. That's the sad irony of this nation; we're willing to accept whatever our leaders tell us or we don't accept it at all and collectively bitch and moan, but do nothing else. We're either so cynical that we don't trust anyone with power, or we're only cynical towards those we disagree with. A situation like the one I've outlined above ends in two ways: it ends with a hugely oppressive and inefficient fascist system in place or it'll end in anarchy when the government collapses. Maybe it'll end in both.

This is our future. Take a good long look at it, because it's coming in one form or another if we keep on the path we're on. This isn't a prediction. This is a promise. The degree of extremeness behind it - and how much religion gets injected along the way - depends exclusively upon the individual, but this framework, or, perhaps more fittingly, these gallows, are from what our future will be hung.


  1. A city south of here, Pontiac
    Based on that comment, we may live quite close to each other. Not sure if it's "cup of coffee" distance, (do you know the Good Bean Cafe?) or "Drive an hour to EP game night."

    I don't see a way to contact you directly. Hopefully you'll be able to contact me, if interested, through the Google log in I'm using.

  2. I'm from Flint/Burton; some 40ish miles north.

    Out of curiosity: are you one of the folks who followed the link I left over at the EP forum here, a Slacktivite, or someone who found this place via Google?

  3. Wait... The Good Beans Cafe off of North Grand Traverse?

  4. That would be the one. Perhaps we've run into each other at The Gamers' Sanctuary.

    I'm a slacktivite who's interest in trans-humanism began when I was forcibly exposed to Transmetropolitan. Although before that I was thinking similar ideas, just didn't have a name for it.

    e-mail is my username w/o any spaces at gmail dot com