Guest post from Tim Urban
As we consider President Trump’s speech to Congress, his tweets, executive orders and philosophy of his advisors and cabinet members, and watch Republican legislatures trash established policies and institutions, we face a brave new world of our own.
What could America look like in four to eight years?
- Protected public lands turned over to business interests, the abandonment of funding for National Parks and an acceleration of pollution of our waterways and air. Natural disasters increasing with diminished response from government.
- Public education going through a dramatic decline. “Choice,” the mantra of the Trump Administration, only works if you have transportation from segregated neighborhoods and a wide choice of viable schools. While affluent and religious parents get public support for home schooling, church schools and charter schools, inner city and rural children are left behind in public schools starved for government support. “Separate and Equal” never worked in the 50s and will not work now.
- Income inequality accelerating with no minimum wages, minimal unemployment protection and the destruction of collective bargaining. Big business taking over government, with workers dispensable to profits.
- The imposition of Christian religion in the public sphere sustained where businesses and governments exclude non-believers or those with “immoral” life styles. Abortion and end-of-life procedures outlawed and gays treated as outcasts. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism becoming commonplace.
- Open carry of guns and other weapons in public places, including our schools, and “stand your ground” protection increasing the atmosphere of fear that Trumps promotes. The drumbeat of fear feeding mass incarceration of immigrants and blacks in new private prisons, subsidized by taxpayers and more mass killings.
- New bridges and toll roads farmed out to private managers to avoid use of public funds; access expedited for affluent Americans.
- Tariffs imposed on foreign goods spiking inflation, further squeezing the Middle Class and triggering new alliances against the United States.
- The few remaining federal programs moved to the states, shifting the burden for reduced funding of public services. The disparity in public services such as health services and education increasing. America becoming a Republic of “have” and “have-not” regions—poor Americans migrating to “blue” states that still provide public support, leading them into fiscal crises.
- Jobs disappearing for uneducated Americans:
—Between 1948 and 2015, the work rate for U.S. men twenty and older fell from 85.8 percent to 68.2 percent. Among the 10 million men not in the workforce – men who are not even looking for a job – 57% of the Caucasian population between 21 and 55 collect disability benefits, which means they can get Medicaid benefits and cheap narcotics: increased opioid addiction and suicide.
—As Medicaid is abandoned, longevity rates for white males over age 50 continuing to fall., fueling more hatred and violence.
—Automation of workplaces and driving will create jobs, far fewer than it will destroy. Estimates are that by 2030, 25% of vehicles will be autonomous. The total job loss from autonomous vehicles just in the U.S. might approach 10 million: 5 million truck drivers, 75% of whose jobs could be replaced, and 250,000 taxi drivers, 160,000 Uber drivers and 100,000 Lyft drivers.
- Health and Day Care only accessible to affluent Americans, food stamps discontinued and poverty increasing across all racial and ethnic groups.
- Draconian laws sustained by new majorities of elected or politically-appointed judges, muzzling media and weeding out “Liberals.” Attacks on science leading to a wholesale debasement of intellectual advancement. The loss of civil liberties advanced as a crusade against “Elites” and as a cover for authoritarianism.
All of these changes would be defended as a return to “self-reliance” or as some Republicans define it, freedom from government mandates. America could join many other nations, run by thugs or oligarchs.
The leaders in Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ thought science and art were dangerous and needed to be carefully controlled so they did not foster critical thinking and lead people astray. Those leaders learned over time that permanent war is a good antidote for liberty and individuality. Trump’s rhetoric that regional wars will increase as Western alliances are weakened. Catastrophic climate change around the globe will accelerate mass migrations, war and famine. Populist movements, exacerbated by migrations, feed political instability or fascism in liberal societies. China, Russia and nations within their orbit of influence tighten their grip on freedom under authoritarian regimes. The transformation of society in the United States could occur as the role of government, broad civil liberties, safeguards against corruption and authoritarianism are abandoned by Congress and the President. As voting is suppressed and billions of dollars buy votes and elected officials, we could join a Brave New World of fear and hatred.
by Tim Urban