I get kind of wrapped up about the next year or two (or shorter). I want to take a moment to look at some longer term events I think will come about.
I think that we’ll have a ‘universal healthcare’ of some sort sometime in the next 9 years. That is, either the next president or his/her successor (if not re-elected) will sign the bill. We’ll have teething problems for at least three years thereafter. We’ll see a challenge to the system not more than a decade after implementation. It’ll be as successful as every challenge to social security has been — at most only incremental. Note I’m not going to peg details. Just that there will be a system where everybody in the US is able to get basic medical care without having to worry about ‘pre-existing conditions’ or their employment status.
I think that by that same point in time the question of peak oil’s existence will be answered. By that point we’ll have begun seriously whittling our demand for it back down, which will drive prices down. Oh, the price of oil (and its products) will still be well above what it is now, and it’ll stay there for a generation or two. But between fuel/energy alternatives and energy-saving practices and construction — the things we started to do in the 1970s — our demand will decline. FWIW, it’s going to be an ugly decade. And there will be a lot of changes in a lot of things – which I’ll save for another post. But the misery won’t be permanent.
I think that sometime in the next decade the US will no longer be considered the “Leader of the Free World”, not even by many of its citizens. Oh, we’ll still be a big fish in the pond, but I don’t think we’ll be ‘number one’ economically. Note I don’t say militarily — at the strategic level money drives what your military can be like.
I think that we’ll have either resolved the Taiwan issue, or it’ll be out of our hands, by the end of that decade. Money and Oil and the probable legacy of our current adventures in the Mid East will hamper our ability to intervene.
That’s two touches on the military, let’s look harder. I think we’ll go through another decade of “hollow military”. It pains me. Those bastards ravaged our army, wasting it for what in the end will be no significant strategic gain. The navy and airforce aren’t as badly ripped (though there is spillover), but they are also heavily reliant upon money (on a per-capita basis). Fewer aircraft and ships are inevitable. Add the issue of oil (which applies to all three) and it’s going to severely revamp the system.
I think we’ll have gotten through the housing glut and its consequences by then. Prices, having dropped significantly, will be on the upswing. Foreclosure rates will spike sometime in the next two years, which will drive legislation (good and bad) reminiscent of that which came the last couple of times we got stupid about lending practices.
It’s going to be an interesting ride.