Tomorrow evening, I'll be giving a talk at the University of California, Berkeley: My Predictions for The Coming Decade.
Here are my notes for that talk. Your comments are welcome--I will see them before my presentation and will revise as appropriate.
The Biotech Breakthrough Decade--including cancer, heart disease, depression, retardation. Global partnerships will create the breakthroughs. Longshot prediction: By 2020, it will be possible to enhance intelligence.
Virtualization Decade: meetings, supervision, companies. Longshot prediction: By 2020: virtual trips will be seen as a vacation alternative.
The Decade of The Incredible Shrinking Job: part-time, temp, automate, offshore. Longshot prediction: A tax will be imposed on a company for each job it offshores.
The End of Conservative Media: Fox News fades, talk radio shrinks. The networks cut news budgets. CNN and NY Times (which may merge) dominates. All of this would impose great cost to society's hearing diverse perspectives. Longshot prediction: By 2020, Fox News dies and then covers only business news. Talk radio becomes predominantly liberal.
The Decade of Thrift: We'll see further housing price decline until a household with $100,000 total income can comfortably afford the mortgage payment. We'll see modular mixed-use housing.
Companies will spend more on collections.
We'll more often repair, not replace. B-to-B biz opp: Buy a successful small commercial/industrial equipment repair business from a retiring boomer.
More of the middle class will be childless. That combined with the continued high birthrate among the poor will not help America's global competitiveness.
We'll see a boom in mini-cars as in Europe (e.g., SmartCar). 2020 longshot prediction: The most popular car will be a plug-in electric Toyota that will get 125 mpg and be fully chargeable in a few hours.
The E-commerce Decade. Despite the slow economy, online spending will continue to rise while and bricks-and-mortar spending will decline. Barcode-enabled smartphones (See this video) will hurt bricks-and-mortar businesses: consumers will shop at stores, bar code their item and buy it cheaper on the Net. Longshot prediction: By 2020, the number of malls will have shrunk by 80% from current levels. Many chains--e.g., Macy's, Cost Plus, Barnes & Noble, will have gone completely online.
The Declining Marriage Decade: The trend was boosted decades ago by Murphy Brown but now, media/school/college-induced disdain for males, decline in the # of women who feel parenthood is a necessary box to check in life, unemployable men, increase in gays/lesbians, increased economic viability of women (unmarried women in their 20s earn 116% of what unmarried men earn) and anti-male divorce and child custody laws will reduce marriage rates. Longshot prediction: Only 50% of people the nation's households are made up of married couples. By 2020, it will be only 33%-including gays, whom I am confident will have the right to marry in all 50 states.
The Decade of Campus Decline/Online is Fine. People won't or be able to pay for fancy campuses. The only reason this trend has been slow to accelerate is that govt. so heavily subsidizes the high tuition with financial aid. The more the govt. gives, the more the campuses raise their tuition and fees. Degree proliferation: the master's is the new bachelor's. Longshot prediction: By 2020, many universities, including major publics, will offer a completely online bachelor's degree.
The SinglePayer Decade: Businesses that, under the Obama Plan, will be required to pay not only for their workers but a share of the poor, will have programs (including cash incentives) for weight loss, blood pressure and diabetes control. But the already overtaxed health care system will collapse resulting in a single-payer approach being adopted. Truly longshot prediction (more of a hope:) a return to fee-for-service + catastrophic insurance + a safety net for the truly needy.
The Pot Decade. The slow economy combined with medical marijuana (Already, there are more legal pot dispensaries in SF than Starbucks.) will bring increased pot abuse. Longshot prediction: By 2020, pot is legalized in California but it's repealed by 2025 when pot use among teens soars.
Capitalism's Decline Decade: Ever more GDP will be transferred from the private to the public sector, and from the haves to have-nots, Higher taxes would generate too much protest from the middle class so the govt will use more subtle ways to increase net taxes received: a recent example: L.A imposing $100 fine for a barking dog. Using environmental benefit as a balming explanation, we will be subject to ever increasing tolls at bridges, tunnels, and roads (that were supposed to expire when those bridges were paid for.) The average American pays 48 cents per gallon in gasoline tax. Municipalities are replacing parking meters with kiosks that issue receipts so you'll never again be able to pull into a meter with time left on it. Cameras at traffic lights are proliferating, with $300-$500 fines for red light runners. Even a stop sign violation, where I live, costs $250. (Alas, I learned that from first-hand experience.) San Francisco has just installed hundreds of additional crosswalks, and if a driver fails to yield to a pedestrian, the fine is $500. The IRS budget and its technology will increase. Jobs should be plentiful for government employees and contractors involved in "revenue enhancement." Longshot prediction: The U.S. elects an officially Socialist president in 2020.
The Decade of War Miniaturization: suitcase nukes, cyberattacks, bioweapons. Longshot prediction: By 2020, a terrorist will have successfully detonated a suitcase nuclear bomb or poured a bioweapon into the a small city's (e.g., Peoria) water supply.
The Nuclear Decade: Nuclear energy will burgeon. Longshot prediction: By 2020, solar and wind energy will have been fads that faded when the delimiting physics will become clearer.
The Islamo-Latinization of America. Both groups have high rates of immigration and births. Increasing numbers of African-Americans are converting to Islam. Despite promises of border enforcement and a high-tech 2,000-mile wall, it will fail: the government admits it can't stop enough trucks. Our prioritization of "civil liberties," our celebration of diversity, and fear of being even unfairly called racist will preclude our seriously enforcing borders. Example: Even the modest Arizona illegal-immigrant law has, in the mainstream media--e.g., Time magazine, been called: "police state, apartheid, racist, Nazi--'Papers!')." There will be amnesty with token fine (no return to Mexico required before legally returning.). Latino USA (the name of an NPR radio program) is apt. Latino but not Islamic immigration is worrisome because it is the first large wave of immigrants that is unscreened for health or criminal records, and to immigrate, may need no more ability to plan or delay gratification than to hide in the bottom of a truck for the brief ride from Tijuana to San Diego. Also different is that many Latino and Islam advocates are insisting their people not assimilate but retain their native culture. So the U.S. will ever less have a unifying culture--Optimists call that a salad bowl in which the total is greater than the sum of its parts; pessimists call it balkanization that will lead to cross-cultural enmity, civil unrest, and terrorism. Longshot 2020 prediction: As with the Indian reservations, the U.S. will cede part of New Mexico to Mexican sovereignty. Longershot prediction: Mexico becomes America's 52nd state. (Puerto Rico will be the 51st.)
The Decade of Asia's Sunrise and America's Sunset. America does retain strengths: women and minorities have opportunity, entrepreneurial culture, freedom of speech, universities while profoundly needing reinvention still attract smart people from around the world, and the U.S. remains for now the centers for finance and for high-tech and biotech innovation. But as society gets ever more tech-centric/knowledge-centric, the majority of Americans will suffer an ever larger achievement gap compared with the average Chinese or Indian national. And our politics of so-called "redistributive justice," while well-intentioned, will make the U.S. ever less able to create a competitive workforce--Example: mixed-ability classes. Another disadvantage: China has a more balanced approach to environmentalism. Here we'll spend enormously to preserve a snail darter or spotted owl, let alone a Louisiana swamp--oops, I mean "wetland." Liberal "kindness," which redistributes from those with the greatest potential to create jobs to those with the least will ever more be fueled by a media more interested in liberal activism than fair reporting--with GoogleSearch and GoogleNews the dominant players, manifested by Obama's election--The National Journal ranked Obama the #1 most liberal senator. Longshot prediction: Over the coming decade, the investment return on China's equivalent of the Dow 30 (stock symbol FXI) will be twice that of the Dow. I've moved much of my savings from Vanguard S&P 500 fund to FXI.
Final point: Humankind has always figured out a way to make progress and will continue to do so. In balance, the world will be better in 2020 than in 2010.