Two weeks ago my commentary was all about “good news” that is rarely covered by the press since it isn’t really considered news. I wanted to come back and talk about some “bad news” that also is rarely covered by the press because it is too much in the future when the focus on news is what is happening now.
Tyler Cowen wrote about what he called, “The Decline and Fall of the American Empire.” He doesn’t think America is falling apart right now, but he does see some ominous trends in the future. I like to think of these as challenges that we (and our leaders, both political and spiritual) will need to confront in the future.
First, he is rightly concerned about the shrill public debate. We see this in the inability for Congress to pass meaningful legislation to the recent circus atmosphere surrounding a nominee to the Supreme Court. Politics is ugly and that makes it unlikely that the political sphere will adequately address the nation’s pressing problems.
A second concern will be federal spending. “Aging and entitlements will force the next president, whether Democratic or Republican, to look for a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.” The growing national debt will force politicians to cut back on infrastructure maintenance. He concludes that much of the country will “end up looking like – forgive the colloquial phrase – a dump.”
Advances in technology will affect everything from our privacy to entertainment. Artificial intelligence and facial surveillance will invade our privacy. High-tech virtual reality will entice many to live in the cyber world where life is easy and everyone is beautiful. Driverless cars will reduce accidents but they will probably make the roads more crowded.
Many believe these trends spell the decline of America. I like to think of these trends as challenges we need to address as we move through the 21st century.