Skip to comments.THE FUTURE: The Next 10 Years Better Than Ever!
Posted on 06/22/2002 6:33:29 AM PDT by freeforall
A LITTLE OVER a year has passed since our last update on the future. The general outline remains about the same, but the specifics for some items has changed to become even more positive. For instance, just last month in an edition of Applied Physics Letters, U.S. researchers announced the creation of a new type of semiconductor material. It is based on a heretofore largely unexploited principle called spintronics. The field, in its infancy, takes advantage of the spin characteristics of electrons. In regular electronics, the focus is on the charge of an electron, but not its spin. This limits microelectronic devices to two states: on or off (charged or not charged), representing zeroes or ones, the basis of all digital information storage or processing. But in spintronics, information can be stored and processed in millions and perhaps billions of different states, corresponding to the almost infinite variety of spin states of electrons. This development should have profound effects on science, economics, and politics because it blows the lid off the anticipated limits of computer processing. If spintronics proves out, it means that we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible in computing power.
Developments such as this continue to move mankind forward. Another example? Okay. Australian scientists this month announced an advance in the teleportation of laser light and predicted that teleportation of atoms is only 3 to 5 years away. If so, they said, the "transporter beams" in Star Trek may not be impossible science-fiction after all.
Improving Economy As we usually do, let's update the economy first. Given the media's gloating over gloom, it's understandably still a worrisome subject to many readers, especially those who suffered from the year-long rise in unemployment. But things are better than either the media or market gurus tell us. Unemployment is already falling again and confidence is rising. In retrospect, the economy slipped into negative territory only for a few weeks last yearperhaps not a true recessionand was growing again by fall. By the first quarter GDP and other indexes of growth were already equaling some of their best growth rates of the previous boom. TOA Daily continues to expect healthy conditions between now and about 2009 or 2010.
However, one caveat. I also continue to believe that we could have a true recession by the end of the decade. For poorly understood reasons, freedom and demographics appear to run together in almost perfect 40-year cycles in the U.S. Things vary slightly from cycle to cycle, but not much. If they hold with past patterns, thendue to slight freedom setbacks, or at least stasissome of the steam will probably go out of the economy after the second George W. Bush administration. While real growth, adjusted for product quality improvements, will probably average around 7% for most of this decade, that will not be true after the 2009 or 2010 recession. The decade of the '10s will "only" average 4-5% grow. Yet that's pretty good. The recessionary "stagflation" decade of 40 years earlier (the 1970s) averaged 3% and the recessionary decade of 40 years before that (The Great Depression) averaged 1% (not a net decline, as is commonly assumed).
Due to both financial deregulation and accumulated experience with excessive monetary growth, inflation should remain benign. We will see the start of serious political discussion about the possibility of privatizing the U.S. Federal Reserve Board's functions, and perhaps some Treasury functions. Energy will not prove to be the huge problem that the media and a few politicians today concoct it to be. Energy production, refining, and distribution is being steadily privatized worldwide. By the end of last year, California itselfthe worst of the worsthad put enough new generation capacity on line to end its electricity crisis. (That was the real solution; not the political rantings and misconceived controls of Gov. Gray Davis.)
Last year I predicted, "By early 2002, oil prices should be closer to $12 a barrel than to the current $27." That hasn't proven true. They got close for awhile, but as I write this they are again in the mid-twenties. But I still believe price declines are coming, for the most basic of reasons: New oil and gas sourcesindeed, new power sources of many types, including nuclearare on the way. Not only is it becoming clear that oil and gas reserves are many times more extensive than once thought, but the next 10 years will see a dramatic surge in power plant construction and interstate energy transportation. These things will combine to create downward pressure on energy prices. Another positive: Russia has now become the #1 oil producer (it surpassed Saudi Arabia last month) and is rapidly expanding its output and is not beholden to OPEC cartel. OPEC itself is doing what it's always done: selling oil out the back of the tent, circumventing its own agreements.
As to the presidency, I remain confident that Bush will, in the end, prove the be one of our great presidents. Despite what some Euroministers think, he is no dummy. He is proving to be a savvy administrator, clever persuader, and excellent commander-in-chief. In fact, regardless of its own leadership shifts, I expect Congress will give Bush most of what he wants down the road. He's on the right side of the history of freedom, and so is most of Congress. (Were that not true, the past 30 years' of deregulation could not have occurred. Think about it.)
I expect that the U.S. will deploy a missile defense; the 1972 ABM Treaty expired June 15th, so that is no longer a drag. The Aegissea-borne system the Navy is building has had some spectacular recent success. Hence, it appears that we'll be getting land- and ocean-based defenses against ballistic missiles in the very near future. Last year I wrote, "Probably we will avoid a serious war, though we may have to put out some brushfires." Well, the war on terror is proving to be quite serious, although not the damaging kind that World War II was. You might say it's brushfires times ten. And I expect it will drag on for years, just as VP Dick Cheney says. We will probably suffer at least a few more major hits before we get a full handle on terrorism. In this regard, I also expect terrorists to bring smaller scale bombings to America, like the kind Israel is experiencing: malls, churches, schools, and perhaps infrastructure targets like dams, bridges, and so forth. But we will learn to thwart them, prevail, and prosper despite the terrorists' worst efforts.
Freedomand not just economicwill expand under Bush. He will continue to confound his critics. Demographic trends will enable him to move vigorously toward privatizing Social Security, lowering welfare loads, and cutting taxes, among many other things. He spectacularly achieved the first step of his tax-cutting goalsmoving his opponents from their no-tax-cut policies of 2000 to last year's agreement to reduce taxes by $1.35 trillion this decade. In his first year, Bush gained over $110 billion concessions per month from his political enemies. If he can get more accomplishedwhich he's already vowed to do, even in the face of the temporary shift to Democratic leadership in the Senatehe'll be able to assure that the recession in 2009 will be mild, leaving a good start for his successor in the 2010s. (By the way, I think Bush is going to back off some of his anti-trade policies, such as his steel and lumber quotas. I think those reflected short-term political ploys, not long-term intentions.)
Despite certain politicians' efforts to block it, deregulation will survive as the dominant trend in the U.S. It will go on in many fields, including energy, the environment, transportation, and agriculture. Taxes will gradually experience further declinesperhaps not in raw dollars, because we'll have a growing economy and a widening tax basebut they'll fall as a proportion of wealth creation. That is the most importantand least-recognizedway to objectively calculate tax-trimming progress. U.S. bureaucracy, by the same standard, will also decline. I believe that the consolidation of some 100 agencies within the new Department of Homeland Security will result in a net deregulatory effect in America. That's not a prediction I've seen anyone make, but it's one of the effects I expect. I think evidence is mounting that Bush is using the war on terrorism as an incidental wedge of opportunity to trim down government by combining disparate and often duplicative agencies.
With the implementation of teacher testing and other tougher standards, education will improve across the boardalthough there will be renewed strife over the role of the federal government. Fortunately, the strife will have an unexpectedly positive consequence. It will fuel more productive debate about the nature of educational funding and control. Out of that debate will grow a rejuvenated awareness of the possibilities of privatizing education. After all, education is merely another kind of information service. It deserves the same, private-sector benefits enjoyed by other information services. But that's not where the real future of education liesnot in traditional schools, public or private. There's a better way coming at us by stealth technology. What I mean is this. Hi-tech, computerized educational tools are slowly, but increasingly, making self-education (home education) the preferred way of learning. As the technology advances, the trend will accelerate. We're only at the beginning, but by 2025, perhaps sooner, it should be the dominant form of education in the U.S.
As computing power moves more deeply into everything from inventory and shipping to research and development, more will become possible for the High Frontier. Space will become more populated. Man will establish a permanent presence off his home planet, currently on the international space station, later on the Moon and Mars. (China a few weeks ago said it intends to be the first to establish a permanent Moon base. This could spark a new space race.) Ideas for tourist hotels in space continue to move through advanced stages of planning. Cheaper, better rocket fuels, possibly the advent of electrogravitic propulsion, and eager private capital will create a new dawn in space. Manned commerce will expand at rates of 40-50% annually. (The norm is already 30%.) In this decade, we will witness the flowering of a true, dynamic, private-sector Space Age.
Collapse of the Hyper-Greens As technological and agricultural efficiencies soar, the environment will continue to improve in quality. Next to freedom (not license), industrial efficiency is, and always has been, the main benefactor of the environment. Private, non-coercive ideas for species and habitat preservation will become the norm, edging out the old proscribe/prescribe, jackbooted government methods. This is another stealth advance. The coercive side of the green movement will decrease in popularity. More intelligent, civilized notions will dominate. Violent greens will be the exception, not the ruleand the FBI and other law enforcement agencies will pursue them for what they've become: criminals dressed in green shirts. The more successful conservationists and preservationists will employ innovative voluntarism to accomplish more, faster. The fanatic green religious left will go on, but in a less totalitarian, neo-theocratic fashion. I believe the harsher side of the green movement has already peaked. The greens will never again achieve the raw political power they enjoyed under Clinton.
Medical breakthroughs will be far-reaching and arrive quickly this decade. Among them: cures for Alzheimer's, depression, Parkinson's, arthritis, much heart disease, AIDS, and several types of cancer, including stubborn forms of leukemia, lung cancer, and melanoma. Medicine will begin to conquer inherited genetic dispositions to disease. Genetic diagnosis and therapy has already debuted and is fast becoming a mainstream process. Rapid genetic engineering of vaccines will emerge, making it possible for the first time in history for man to jump on, and thwart, diseases almost as soon as they arise. Note: I think these things will occur even if Congress attempts to partially restrict genetic engineering (such as stem cell research). Why? Many other nations will not do so, and their advances will cause Congress to rapidly reverse any controls it imposes. Competition is more worldwide than ever. Congress must get used to playing in a bigger pond.
High-tech medical devices, including mechanical organsas well as organs engineered from human tissuewill hit the market big-time late this decade. Prices will fall rapidly, following the pattern of computer pricing. Many forms of blindness and deafness will end (supplemented by new, CCD retinal implants, which we reported on here several weeks ago). Small scourges such as hemorrhoids, vericose veins, skin wrinkling, aging spots, baldness, and so forth will begin to fall before the blade of science.
As prices drop, life-extension techniques of many kinds will spread from availability to a minority of the population to the general public. Computer technology will make both physical and mental labor easier. People will have fantastic new choices about how to seek happiness and immensely greater means to achieve it. Lifespans and health will improve so dramatically that by decade's end it will become clear that no Social Security or Medicare crisis will evolveeven if privatization progress proves minimal! The positive side of the equation will finally come to light: the elderly will be more productive, mentally acute, active, and start new businesses (and mentor old ones)i.e., will be wealthier and more self-supporting, nowhere near the burden that the fretters and frowners expected.
Within a decade we could see the development of an unanticipated occurrence: a threshold of health that leads to indefinite lifespans. As I've often said, there may be no fountain of youth out there. However, we could reach a point where the cumulative effects of small developments in life-extension will result in the equivalent of a fountain of youth. We could see the elderly reach 90, 100, 110, 120 with perhaps actually enjoy regression of aging internally. Some in the field have told me that there are some signs of this already happening in isolated segments of the population. We'll keep an eye on it.
Better Defense In addition to the construction of a missile defense, national security will see vast improvements. As more intelligent missions and strategy develop under Bush through the impetus of Operation Enduring Freedomand the consolidations of the impending Department of Homeland Securitymorale will return to historic norms. Higher-tech systems will get an extra kick. The U.S. will remain the world leader in military science and technology. We will be able to do more with lessbut without the strain on resources that we saw under Clinton. For instance, only last month the U.S.'s first, fully dedicated unmanned combat jet, the X-45A, completed its first test flight. Within this decade, unmanned combat planes will begin to heavily replace manned ones. (Already in Afghanistan a modified version of the Predator flying robot has undertaken scores of unmanned air-to-ground missions using Hellfire missiles.)
I continue to believe that this decade we will see the creation of a new service branch, a Space Forceor its interservice equivalent. In order to protect the space lanes for commerce and defense, the U.S. will vigorously militarize orbital space just as it did the oceans decades ago; this is now official policy of the U.S. Contrary to anti-defense worrywarts, the effort will pacify space and help open it to healthy commerce. U.S. defense will protect and encourage the next stage of off-planet capitalist development and exploration.
Overseas, India will rise as a premier capitalist power this decade. (Providing it can avoid nuclear war with Pakistan; that could set things back for several years.) Even now India is rivaling nearby China. The Far East, Mideast, the ex-Soviet empire, and Africa will continue to experience regional warfare and strife, but it will gradually diminish as the U.S. assists in pacification techniques. China could soon attempt a kind of "nibbling" conquest of Taiwan and other nearby real estate. Instead of an all-out invasion of Taiwan, though, I expect China to try to take an island here, an island there, escalating its intimidation as it goes. However, if the U.S. substantially increases its assistance of Taiwan's defense, China may think twice. We will also boost our presence in the region during the war on terror. Even so, it's fluid. Things between the U.S. and China could get tenser until the rise of the next generation of less tyrannical Chinese leaders. The changeover could be hastened by a major Chinese recession; China is already growing more slowly than India.
Russia will retain a hefty portion of its nuclear and rocketry might, but may never again be an empire like it was in Soviet days. By the end of this decade, the bulk of the Russian nuclear arsenal will have decayed to nonfunctionality and Russia probably will not be able to afford to replace itnor may it see the need. Although I'm cautious about Russia's future, since our last update I've grown more optimistic. Putin has unexpectedly been embracing more capitalist policies. For instance, he has cut income taxes to a flat 13% and is moving to cut other taxes, too. He's also pushing for an expansion of the private property movement in Russia and appears to want no more major conflict with the U.S. These are all good signs; we'll see how they develop.
Japan will lumber along, but its future is clouded. A major factor in my pessimism is that Japan's population has crested. Only about one child is now born to every couple. This is a demographic problem of no small proportionsone which, by the way, much of Europe is also on the verge of facing. The Euro currency will not save the Continent from the ruthlessness of demographics. Unless they embrace much more immigration, learning to establish their own U.S.-style melting pots, the increasing childlessness of Japan and Europe will cause a significant slide in their division of labor. No economy can retain a good growth rate under such a slide. The same difficulty will eventually plague China, India, and many other nations.
Alone among the majors, the U.S. is on a pro-growth population trendnot only because we have higher lifetime fertility rates than Europe, Japan, China, etc., but also because of our sympathy for immigration; we bitch about it, but we keep the doors pretty widely open. The odds are that by the end of this century the U.S. will be the world's most populous and prosperous nation. It will have about twice the number of people it has now; at least 500 million. By then India and China's populations may have crashed to only about 400 million each.
In other words, like the 19th and 20th centuries, the 21st century will also be "The American Century." Not just freedom, but demographics, will be a big reason for it.
More Rational Politics I revivebut not reviselast year's prediction for more rational U.S. politics. Not only did the 9/11 Massacre shake a lot of goofy notions out of political heads, but politicians will not be able fight the wider culture. The wider culture is moving toward greater self-reliance and more state and local problem solving. As division of labor and a combination of mental and laborsaving devices raise everyone's individual living standards, personal empowerment will roar forward. The flip side of individual empowerment will be: demand for government will be less. As the demand falls, politicians will lose influence. As they do, government as a share of the culture will shrink. The lowered burden of the shrinkage will supercharge the private sector, making people even less dependent on government for either their current needs or future ones.
In effect, capitalismnot communismwill cause the state to fade away; no, not completely, but to a degree greater than even utopian libertarian optimists normally expect. In this decade, we should see the continuation of the trend. Because few people recognize it for what it is, when awareness hits it will seem like an astounding event. The readjustment shake out likely will take place in the next decade, during the slower growth of the 2010s, much as the 1970s shook out the pro-regulation crowd and issued in the era of privatization and tax-cutting. The coming shake out, really building steam at the end of this decade, should make the '70s' shake out look puny, paving the way for the next Roaring Twentiesexcept the roar will last through the thirties and forties, too.
Finally, as I did last year, I anticipate continued growth in U.S. optimismexcept more so. Despite the darkest hopes of our enemies, the 9/11 Massacre rebooted America's confidence in itself and its determination to create a brighter and more prosperous future. This sentiment will result in the spread of a more intensely can-do view of life in human psychology. (It will resemble, but be stronger than, the can-do years that followed World War II and the can-do Reagan years.) The change will occur mainly via the publishing industry (both traditional and electronic) and the churches, which have already supplanted traditional psychological counseling as the main conduits for self-help psychological information. Optimism is a get-things-accomplished worldview. It's life-oriented and creativity-oriented. It's appropriate that optimism will experience a new Renaissance in the U.S. this decade, because the U.S. has always been the world's most positive-thinking country.
As the new optimism spreads, it will provide a renewed psychological foundation for economics, science, politics, theology, and even philosophy. In fact, I think the value of positive thinking to philosophy is only beginning to seep into that stodgy profession. As it has in economics, optimism will eventually transform philosophy from a scholastic debating society into a mission-oriented system of practical thinking. What will the mission be? No big secret. It's in writing: the Founders identified it over two centuries ago as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
In sum, the next decadeindeed, the next centurylooks even more exciting than TOA Daily originally projected when this website came on-line nearly three years ago. And despite 9/11, the future looks more upbeat than it did last year at this time. I remain confident that man's long climb from the caves will go onand at an accelerating paceand that America, as the world's beacon of liberty, will continue to lead the way.
Are Bush-skeptics invited too?
Or is this only for Bush-lovers?
Wow, I didn't know that a vote for Bush was a vote to end all of these diseases!
Your "Attention Bush Haters" headline is gratuitous kool aid.
BTW, anytime someone says that AIDS will be cured you know they're full of nonsense. How many viruses has medicine ever "cured?"
1) He has done little to change immigration to keep us safe.
2) He has abandoned vouchers
3) He has signed a bill for record federal spending on education
4) He has supported affirmative action in court
5) He is for granting amnesty to illegal aliens
6) He signed campaign finance
7) He supports a Palestinain terrorist state
8) His signing the airport security bill (federalizing employees)
9) His support of steel tariffs
10) Not going after clinton corruption
11) The massive farm bill
12) 500 million for AIDs
13) Has treated Saudi Arabia as a friend even though they're a terror sponsoring state
It's not hate. It's envy. ;^)
Not when I'm behind the sofa.
And I'm always behind the sofa.
There is always hope and always room for optimism.