I, myself, am allergic to making predictions. Not just out of the fear of being proven incorrect, but also because I don't know nearly enough about the way this world works to feel anywhere near confident in making any kinds of predictions, on any subject, especially not a worsening society being brought down by a series of factors (economics, energy depletion, etc.) that could potentially lead to the end of industrialized civilization. By the way, people are as asleep as ever. It is Christmas day, I am at my sister's, and my other sister (who is visiting with her financee from Connecticut) saw a book I was reading, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". She opened her mouth in disbelief and exclaimed, "Oh, come on!" As I don't make predictions, I also can't be fully confident in my beliefs about our state of affairs, but I really fail to see why reading this kind of book could meet with such disbelief. Is it so unfathomable that things could really go to shit in any society, even ours?
Anyway, I am digressing again; it's an unfortunate habit I've acquired in the course of writing these long blogs, and I am unlikely to give it up. I just hope that you find it interesting enough to read while I'm in the process of writing what I had intended to write in the first place.
I read another website that made several predictions about this upcoming year, as part of a sample of a quarterly publication called the Trends Journal. It seems to be geared to people interested in finance, but it looks like something many more of us can understand, especially this portion. It is predicted that things will continue to collapse, in spite of the heroic efforts that governments around the world have taken to prop up our financial institutions, and that seems like a no-brainer to me. On the other hand, there are some surprising predictions that, while I can't see them happening in the short-term, could definitely be possible as more and more of us realize that the "good times" are not coming back.
One element is the possibility of increased acts of terrorism as more people are becoming alienated at what has happened to them and their families as a result of our incursions into Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Pakistan. Some of the attacks can well take place from unexpected sources, like the gunman at Fort Hood. But as economic problems and the chances of there being battles over dwindling resources increase, Al-qaeda training camps will be the least of our problems.
Another prediction I can emphasize on, and agree with, is survivalism becoming mainstream. It wouldn't be too long ago that my reaction to someone reading a book like the one I am would be similar to my sister's, but I don't feel that way anymore. My personal circumstances are not worsening (as of this writing) but they're not really getting better either, and I think they would be if times were normal. Along with becoming enlightened of the chances of our demise, my personal experiences have really helped me understand the ability to prepare and acquire new skills for a new economy, and hopefully more people will take on this trend.
Our government has repeatedly justified their bailouts of banks and other financial institutions on the grounds that they are "too big to fail", and while looking at America as a whole, the writer(s) have determined that a lot of America is "too big". Our homes, our vehicles, our debt loads, our state governments, our military, it is all "too big". Like the Trends Journal, I also feel that being "too big" (in other words, living to excess) will become decidedly uncool in the years ahead.
Another trend predicted, and one that I can see on the horizon already, is illegal immigrants and American citizens jostling and competing for the scraps of what little is out there in terms of hard labor. What always bothered me about illegal immigration is the support that it received from people who really should have known better. Some time ago, I was an activist for primarily leftist causes, and I came across great people who were very passionate about many issues, among them being standing up for immigrants, be they legal or not. I understood where they were coming from, but I also couldn't help but see the contradictions playing out amongst these people; namely, claiming to be pro-labor and union but also pro-illegal immigrant. As more illegals joined the work force, they had the effect that any new clump of labor would, in that they depress wages for everybody. They also serve as an effective threat for business owners to use against their employees, as I've learned from people telling me their experiences. So, a fair amount of protest against illegals (both past, present and future) may be based in racism and intolerance, but much of it is also based on economic realities.
A backlash against China is also predicted in the form of "Not Made in China" movements and a press for more products to be made closer to home. While I think this will happen eventually, I think it will be more due to the expense of oil making globalization increasingly unfeasible, rather than any popular backlash. Many of us simply cannot make the connections between outsourcing our manufacturing to China and the dire economic straits of the working class; besides, we enjoy the cheap Chinese products too much. Additionally, we may not have the know-how necessary to build products, even if we gain the desire.
Lastly, a prediction that I really hope happens (not sure if it will) will be the demise of TV/cable due to the Internet Revolution, similar to what happened with newspapers. I think the two (TV and papers) are very different, mainly that the big liability of papers was not being able to report breaking news in an adequate fashion (due to their very structure, it could take up to a day or more for a story to "break" in a paper if that's the reader's main source of information), whereas TV news is much more immediate (about equal to the Internet in terms of breaking a story). Another big difference, and one that will hopefully hurt television, is its true, utter lack of reporting stories that have any value for the majority of the populace. Since most TV news outlets are corporate-owned, and also depend on the advertising dollars of other corporate entities, they specialize in harmless and meaningless fluff that is the mental equivalent of junk food. While this has the edge over the Internet, in that it appeals to morons, the Internet has the advantage of providing many diverse sources of information that will appeal to any person who has the capability and the willingness to learn (and I'm willing to bet that anyone with those traits is likely to make much more money than the morons who exclusively depend on television for what passes as "news" on those outlets).
So, there you are, with more predictions. While I'm not comfortable with asserting that these will come true in 2010 particularly, I am pretty confident that they will happen sometime in the near-future, at least in the next decade for certain. By the way, Merry Christmas. I think that we are at the peak of enjoying our fairly prosperous lifestyles, so we might as well enjoy them to the extent that we can. Eventually, many of us will see a fall in these lifestyles, and they might be quite drastic. Furthermore, it won't be optional.