2000-2040s: In many aspects of physical, social, and economic conditions the world is becoming a colder, lonelier, and harsher place to live; there is also a growing divide between generations

(latest update of this section on or about 2-9-2001)

_________by J.R. Mooneyham_________
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Introduction to the Signposts Timeline (and Contents)

| 1990-2000 AD | 2001 AD-Present | 2003-2008 | 2009-2017 | 2018-2025 | 2026-2049 | 2050-2081 | 2082-2183 | 2184-2272 | 2273-2350 | 2351-2600 |

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Back to 1990 AD-2050 AD in Perspectives...

2000-2040s: In many aspects of physical, social, and economic conditions the world is becoming a colder, lonelier, and harsher place to live; there is also a growing divide between generations

International aid from rich to poor nations overall fell by some $7 billion between 1996 and 1997. Humanitarian emergency assistance also fell 40% during the same period.

Such aid is declining even as the need is rising-- there were three times more natural major disasters worldwide during the nineties than the sixties. Part of the tragedy comes from population pressures forcing more and more people to live on marginal lands which are often more subject to disasters of various sorts than other regions.

-- What about the disasters that CNN misses? By PETER FORD, Nando Media/Christian Science Monitor Service, August 26, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

Some of the growing lack of empathy among many citizens may partly be due to the increasing isolation they are suffering in terms of physical or close human contact, brought on by global competition leading to workplace, government, and educational institutions all making increasing demands on the personal time and energy of the average individual, which tends to minimize that person's resources available for development and maintenance of close, long term personal relationships. The growing importance of personal net interfaces to daily life is having an impact as well.

The immediacy of communications offered via mobile e-mail, cell phones, and instant messaging are reducing the likelihood of physical meetings, and keeping negotiations over all sorts of matters (including deadlines and appointments) alive and ongoing longer than ever before. This new environment is virtually ideal for postponing resolutions of many issues, both business and personal, indefinitely. This is allowing people to often simply delay those matters unimportant to them personally to the point that everyone else involved gives up, and the issue becomes moot, or some default contingency takes place to close the matter.

In cases where an issue is more important to others than yourself, simply letting the others dangle indefinitely can give you the upper hand in negotiations, allowing any eventual resolution to favor your personal interests over those of others.

The technology also makes it easy to over-extend ourselves, making promises we can't or won't keep, as the cost for such actions may be much less than it was in the past. Availability of instant communications may also encourage lower quality work, and slipped project deadlines.

This new mode of communications may thus encourage a predatory instinct in some users of the technology-- and inflict sufficient harm or inconvenience on others to render them less receptive to striking up new relationships or deals in general, and perhaps even fearful for their personal futures overall.

Thus does a new source of uncertainty and anxiety enter the human experience, to make the 21st century one of the most stressful periods in modern history.

-- How Info Age Efficiency Can Weaken Our Connections BY DENNIS BERMAN, November 6, 2000, BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: E.BIZ PERSPECTIVE , and other sources

-- Can cultures survive in our wired world? By DAVID BLOOM, Los Angeles Daily News, October 30, 1998, NYT-10-30-98

The growing mega-corporate control of the media, plus the understandable interests of a growing population of workers invested in stocks via various retirement plans and other means, as well as the saturation people get from daily news reports about global competition and job insecurity, all combine to encourage a largely pro-business, anti-government mind-set in many nations, even among the relatively poor.

A decades-long, largely political argument (burdened with sizable flaws in terms of economic theory) has successfully convinced many people in the developed nations that government is never the best agency to provide certain products or services to a population, while business always is. Note that, as is the case with many absolute statements like this, it is false; professional economists have long argued that markets (or business) are best for certain functions, and governments for others.

Both reasonably free markets and thoughtfully restrained governments appear to be necessary to allow a reasonably humane, secure, and democratic society, as well as the fairest possible distribution of wealth and opportunity (i.e., a relatively large middle-class population) for the resources available.

Tip the balance too far to government, and you might get a heavily censored, strictly regimented totalitarian and/or widely impoverished and sickly society. Tip too far to business, and you might get a heavily censored, strictly controlled dictatorship and/or widely impoverished and sickly society. Note that in both extremes the majority of the population becomes reduced to essentially modern day peasants with few if any rights, serving a tiny, super wealthy elite. Examples of either extreme may be easily found worldwide as of 2000 AD. Notice that the most desirable places to live circa 2000 AD are those nations somewhat balanced in terms of free markets versus government control, such as USAmerica, western Europe, Japan, and Australia. Virtually none of the citizens of these countries circa 2000 AD would want to move to places like China or North Korea or Iraq or Algeria-- and yet those same citizens often support various politicians and legislation which could help take their states closer to such conditions as those less desirable countries, if such entities successfully made it through the gauntlet of necessary votes and legal challenges. A simple examination of USAmerican political history provides ample evidence for many near misses of this sort, which often as not only America's Constitution and Bill of Rights managed to stop (Of course, given sufficient time even bulkwarks like those may be eroded away bit by bit, by corrupt politicians and power hungry elite exploiting the short term passions of the masses and/or consciously manipulating those masses to support such changes).

The often barely restrained financial markets of the late 20th century may offer cautionary tales for the much freer global markets of the 21st-- especially where geopolitical governments increasingly bow to the regulatory wishes of mega-corporations (regardless of social welfare). The former markets were volatile, "...prone to speculative ruin...[and]...more vulnerable to self-inflicted calamity..." due in large part to a given market's regulation by governments being inversely proportional to that market's size. Laissez-faire economies may have no natural defense against excessive and destabilizing speculation. In the late 20th century there was no single institution of sufficient power and wisdom to temper global excesses in the financial markets as certain national concerns could do for inidividual countries.

-- WHEN THE FREE MARKET IS TOO FREE BY ROBERT KUTTNER, Economic Viewpoint, Business Week/The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., October 12, 1998

Not all the essential functions of modern civilization are necessarily best handled by business concerns. Business all too often puts profits ahead of public safety and welfare. Performance and accountability can also suffer where multiple companies share overlapping responsibilities.

-- Business decisions By Ralph Nader, In the Public Interest, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Oct. 13, 1999, http://www.sfbg.com/

Anyway, the market versus government debate becomes dangerously unbalanced worldwide during the early 21st century, resulting in events which threaten to plunge humanity entire into a new Dark Ages, from which they might never re-emerge, due to surveillance and enforcement technologies not available to previous dictator wanna-bees.

This 21st century imbalance much resembles a mirror-image of the 20th century imbalance in these same matters; only where during the 20th century the scales tipped too far to government control in places like Red China and the Soviet Union, now in the 21st they bow more towards giving markets and business their head; single multinational corporations become larger and more powerful in economic, technological, and political terms than most geopolitical nations. The global environment is treated as little more than a military and manufacturing cess pool, which results in full-scale catastrophes of various sorts afflicting humanity.

Fully 25% of all world economic activity and value appears to be concentrated in just 200 corporations, which combined employ less than one percent of of the labor force worldwide; Over half of the 100 largest economies on Earth are now corporations rather than nations

From 1983 to 1999 profits of the 200 companies described above increased by over 360% while their employment rolls grew by only 14%.

82 of the 200 companies are USA corporations. 41 are Japanese.

-- Study Reinforces Public Distrust of Corporations, the Institute for Policy Studies, found on or about 12-14-2000

-- Information poisoning By Caleb Carr, Jan. 8, 2001, Salon.com

-- Climate disaster possible by 2100 By Alex Kirby, Sci/Tech, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk, September 10, 1999

Until 2000 greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane offered some of the major worries in regards to global warming. But then trifluoromethylsulphur pentafluoride (SF5CF3) was discovered. SF5CF3 is up to 22,200 times worse than carbon dioxide, and likely can last up to 3,500 years in the atmosphere before breaking down into less harmful substances. It is definitely not a naturally occuring compound. Apparently it began appearing around the planet in the late sixties, early seventies in measurable amounts-- though its exact origin is a mystery. It is likely the consequence of some unexpected chemical reaction between different industrial pollutants, or decomposition of same-- such as of SF6 or CF4.

-- New, Mean Greenhouse Gas Appears By Michael de Laine, Discovery.com News, April 10, 2000

Much as the Nazis swept into power in post WWI Germany with ideas like natural German superiority and the injustice of foreign ways and powers, near the dawn of the 21st century proponents of pure market power and corporate practices as the ideal form of human organization and justice manage to convince many worldwide that wealth in itself is a sign of virtue, and anyone or anything which attempts to interfere with the natural acquisition and dispensation of that wealth is helping virtually no one (even themselves), while at the same time increasing taxes, and reducing jobs, liberty, and living standards for all. The same pure market proponents also tend to poo-poo concerns expressed by many scientists about market-related damage to society or the environment, or toxic dangers to human beings from industrial or military processes and R&D. They often point to indications of natural environmental calamities of hundreds of thousands or even millions of years past as evidence that the worsening world environment is due to nature itself, and not man. Another perspective they like to offer is that of the emergence of new or additional environmental problems on the scene as simply fresh new business opportunities to be realized, which will mean more jobs and more wealth for everyone. When pressed on the fact that business so far appears to be doing little to solve such problems but when pressed by law, they tout coming new technologies-- even nanotechnology-- as likely remedies to such. And promise that such aids will be available very soon now...

Some of President George W. Bush's conservative supporters are criticizing the Bush Administration as acting too much like a corporate entity rather than a presidential one. They say the administration is "relentlessly pro-corporate".

-- Bush Sparks Mild Grumbling From Some Conservatives By Deborah Zabarenko; Yahoo!/Reuters; March 30, 2001

During this period people in general worldwide are suffering significant reductions in the free time they possess to devote to such considerations themselves. Plus, public and private educational institutions alike worldwide are becoming increasingly corporate-controlled, much like the media before them-- thereby reducing the ability of future generations to objectively consider such issues, too.

Futurologists seem too often to ignore the basics of human nature in their forecasts of future changes sparked by technological advances. One result is predictions which all too often alarm and dismay many, and perhaps even raise resistance against any and all change, no matter how small or mundane. In other words, futurologists may be inadvertantly encouraging people to become more conservative in their daily thoughts and actions than they might otherwise be-- thereby leading to indefinite delays in much needed technological improvements and/or the debates and consideration necessary to wisely guide those new technologies which will, eventually, be adopted by society.

-- Life in the Fourth Millennium By Steven Pinker , May/June 2000 Viewpoint, TechReview.com

Thus, more and more everyone tends to simply accept what the corporate-controlled media tell them.

The growing shortage of personal free time also contributes to a sense of urgency to make everything about one's life and household more efficient, more productive, and more profitable. And, after all, aren't for-profit corporations the model for such activities?

People in the developed nations are often, knowingly or unknowingly, reshaping their personal and home life to more closely resemble their work life. This seems to be one consequence of many coming to the conclusion that at least some work practices may offer benefits of improved efficiency in households if applied there. One force pushing this is mounting time pressures on employees from several different sources.

Managing a household like a corporation appears at least superficially to make sense, in terms of reducing expenses and increasing productivity. It also sounds smart and ambitious. And helps justify the increasing tendency to perform some household chores at work, just as more work is often being done at home, than before.

Some of this tendency to carry over work practices into home life is a phenomenon piggy-backing on the office/business technology itself which is increasingly finding its way into the home, such as computers, cell phones, internet access, PDAs, and more.

-- Study: Tech helps blend work, home lives By Tom Mainelli CNN, December 8, 2000, Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com, and others

But there are other factors playing a role as well.

A growing number of adults of this period worldwide are the end result of one or more of the following childhood conditions or circumstances:

One-child families; zero biological relatives younger than themselves; parental divorce (sometimes several divorces); geographical and social instability (frequent uprooting from communities due to life within a highly mobile labor force); single-parenting; abandonment; orphanages; reform school institutions; poor quality education; poverty; malnutrition; child slavery and abuse; a toxic living environment; and a lifelong saturation in a media environment which often gave the same weight to pure opinion as it did to scientific or historic fact, and encouraged self-gratification, obsession, addiction, violence, exclusivity, division, greed, paranoia, and acting on impulse.

World population may peak and then start a decline of indeterminate length, during our lifetimes. After 2050 world population could conceivably shrink by 25% with each subsequent generation.

In 1995 the populations of less developed nations outnumbered those in developed states by four to one. In the scenario described above that ratio would become seven to one by 2050.

Circa 1900 and before the world population's median age stood at roughly 20. In 1995 it reached 25. In the scenario above, by 2050 it would be 42+. We're talking a world with far fewer children and far more middle-aged and elderly than human civilization has ever seen before.

In such conditions social security and welfare income redistribution systems would have to be completely revamped, or go bankrupt.

The perspective of individuals might also be changed significantly when many or most find themselves possessing no biological relatives younger than themselves. The term "family" for these people will come to mean a group including no biological peers in age.

-- Congressional Briefing 23Feb98, World Population Implosion? Nicholas Eberstadt, Population Research Institute

Between the 1950s and 2000, something happened to make today's young adults and children more anxiety-ridden than they were in previous generations. During the 1980s average children possessed a higher level of anxiety than child psychiatric patients of thirty years before.

It is thought that child anxieties reflect those of society overall. If this is true, then social stresses on adults are growing. The increased isolation due to high divorce rates, plus worries about crime and disease, may all be factors here. It appears that people increasingly distrust those around them, too.

Exposure to violence, both real and virtual, seems one source of this anxiety. Disruptions in personal friend and family ties, another. Lower quantity and quality of interaction with parents breeds still more concerns for youngsters. Many of our young seem to feel less safe and less connected to others than previous generations.

This mounting anxiety is apparently contributing to rising rates of substance abuse and depression among the younger population.

-- Children's Anxiety at All-Time High By Suzanne Rostler, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 15, 2000, citing the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000;79:1007-1021

In developed nations like the USA, many corporations are exploiting the way TV, radio, videos, games, and the internet have become defacto babysitters of many children due to the frequent absence or inattention of their parents, stemming from both often working and being otherwise time-pressed. These corporations use the latest child psychology information available in state-of-the-art multimedia to seduce children via violence, addictive mental hooks, and gaudy sensuality into shrill harassment of parents for the purchase of various products/services the corporations are pushing. This is leading to more than 50% of parents admittedly buying items for their children which they themselves disapprove of, but feel compelled to buy to avoid disappointing their children.

This ongoing virtual child abuse appears to be desensitizing children to violence and its results in general, perhaps leading to some of them later on inflicting great tragedies upon themselves and others as teens or adults. In short, this corporate abuse of children today may be leading, at worst, to a new 'lost' generation of violent criminals tomorrow. Or, at best, to a future generation of adults who themselves may become poor excuses for individual human beings-- and even worse parents.

The Center for a New American Dream is one group formed to combat this phenomena.

-- The nanny by Ralph Nader, Oct. 27, 1999, Ralph Nader/In the Public Interest, San Francisco Bay Guardian, sfbg.com

Violence appears to be a socially learned behavior, rather than any innate characteristic of normal young adolescents. Subjects showed that an inclination to violence necessarily followed significant social exposure to same. Such exposure included instances within the home and community, as well as video games, films, music, and internet usage.

Other items which increased the likelihood a given youth would be prone to violence included being male, smoking cigarettes, exhibiting signs of depression or gang interest, and "multiple substance usage" (this was not fully defined in the article, but I assume it means something like at least occasionally indulging in both smoking and alcohol, or other combinations of drugs).

The more attendance of religious services youths made, the less prone they were to violence-- no matter how much exposure to violence they endured.

-- Violence is a learned behavior, say researchers at Wake Forest University, 6 NOVEMBER 2000, EurekAlert!, Contact: Rae Beasley, rabeasle@wfubmc.edu, 336-716-6878, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

Over a matter of decades USAmerican audiences have become more and more entranced by violence in entertainment media, resulting in the production of ever more violent TV shows, films, and other media, in an ever-reinforcing spiral. This desensitization to violence has also affected children.

Original purpose of escalating violence in movies backfired, Virginia Tech film critic says, EurekAlert!, 25 OCTOBER 1999, Contact: Stephen R. Prince sprince@vt.edu 540-231-5044 Virginia Tech

50% of baby boomers have been divorced, which doesn't bode well for their elder years, as they will get less care from their children (on average) than those parents who did not divorce. They will get even less care from step-children. These conclusions from research may mean significant future problems for Medicare and Medicaid. The public sector may be forced to fill in these shortfalls in family care for aging parents.

In the study cited below 68% of single elderly (single due to divorce or spouse death) received some type of assistance from biological children, while only 30% got such assistance from step-children. Biological children were also more likely to provide care personally than step-children, who more usually bought services from others for such tasks. Biological children provided twice as much assistance as step-children, financially.

Divorce apparently affects deep and long term changes in family structures, often to the detriment of parents in their later years.

-- The silent time bomb: divorce, health care and the baby boom generation, EurekAlert!, 2 FEBRUARY 2000, Contact: Joel Shurkin jshurkin@jhmi.edu 410-614-6610 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Is modern society skewing the course of human evolution by way of inadequate child care?

As of the dawn of the 21st century, humanity may be facing a crisis, in that we may be suffering a historically record number of unwanted and/or inadequately cared for children. Another possible precedent is the large numbers of such children which survive to reproductive age themselves. This may result in a steadily growing portion of the population with little or no capacity to empathize with others, due to their own lack of past and present close family relationships.

A long term consequence of this trend might be a decline in human compassion across the board in future social interaction, institutions, and markets.

-- Inhuman futures, From New Scientist, 11 December 1999. Interview of Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of Mother Nature: a history of mothers, infants and natural selection by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Pantheon/Chatto and Windus, $35; interview conducted by David Concar

People forced by circumstances not to have children as young adults end up just as happy as those that did, usually making up the difference by being more socially active in their later years than parents with grown children.

Thus, it would appear that there are few long term impediments to more and more people favoring career or other matters over having children of their own.

-- Childless Adults Just As Content As Parents By AliciaMarie Belchak, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 15, 2000

All the above causes a relatively precipitous decline in reproductive rates worldwide-- significantly more than most experts of the late 20th/early 21st centuries predicted. These adults tend not to want children of their own, being as they are career-driven or prefer to spend their free time and money in the pursuit of self-gratification rather than raising a child. They are often resentful of previous generations, and struggle under substantial tax and regulatory burdens put into place to serve the growing elderly majority of many developed nations. Their struggle causes many to increasingly join in and contribute to various virtual state efforts, in a hope to someday escape or overthrow the geopolitical economy in which they presently live.

Of course, perhaps 50% or more of the young to middle-aged adults of this time (in the developed nations) did not suffer most of the injuries of the first group described, in youth. But they are definitely sharing some of the same generational disparities with their injured peers now-- such as the consistently losing hand in geopolitical elections and issue referendums, as compared to the older living generations. Indeed, those adults who enjoyed better childhoods than the other group may actually now be straining under greater burdens than those others, in economic and social terms. Because unlike the others, they have aging parents they wish to care for, as well as sometimes children of their own. But the politico-economic demands of tending to the society's politically powerful elderly leave little room for sparing either younger group from much of the resulting tax burden and other matters.

Back to 1990 AD-2050 AD in Perspectives...

Introduction to the Signposts Timeline (and Contents)

| 1990-2000 AD | 2001 AD-Present | 2003-2008 | 2009-2017 | 2018-2025 | 2026-2049 | 2050-2081 | 2082-2183 | 2184-2272 | 2273-2350 | 2351-2600 |

The above article(s) come from and make references to a collection copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by J.R. Mooneyham (except where otherwise noted in the text). Text here explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham may be freely copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes in paper and electronic form without charge if this copyright paragraph and link to jrmooneyham.com are included.

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