2007 July 20 Friday
Americans Grow Increasingly Pessimistic About Future

America is stuck in a stupid foolish war. We have huge unfunded old age pension liabilities. The world's running out of oil. The American population is aging and dumbing down. Oh, and population growth has driven up housing costs for a rising percentage of the population. Is it any wonder that an increasing portion of the likely voters think America's best days are behind us?

Confirming a growing trend of pessimism, only 33% of likely voters across the United States believe the country's best days are ahead of us. That figure is down from 41% last November and 48% in January 2004.

Forty-three percent (43%) now believe that the country’s best days have come and gone (see history).

Women are far more pessimistic than men. Just 25% of women believe the nation’s best days are ahead of us. Forty-four percent (44%) of men share that assessment.

Younger Americans are less optimistic than their elders. Just 22% of those under 30 believe the USA has better days ahead.

Republicans are evenly divided on the question—40% say the best days are in the future while 42% believe they were in the past. Among Democrats, just 30% hold the optimistic view while 48% are pessimistic on this question.

I can understand the higher levels of pessimism of younger generations. After all, the pyramid schemes that form the foundation of government-funded old age retirement programs can't last and in a major intergenerational shafting people who are now under age 50 are going to foot the bill. Also, oil and some other natural resources are getting depleted. Plus, population growth from immigration will dumb down and swell the population, increasing crime and housing costs as people compete harder for land in the safer and more desirable locales. The future certainly has some big downsides.

But the future holds out some amazing promises. Most notably, the youngsters need to know - failing a total breakdown of civilization - that by the time they get old full body rejuvenation will become possible. 20 year olds today will turn 70 in the year 2057. Their life expectancies at that point might be measured in the thousands of years.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 July 20 10:23 PM  Polls Future Prospects


Comments
Gary said at July 21, 2007 7:39 AM:

"Their life expectancies at that point might be measured in the thousands of years."

That is why some official of the Bush administration felt compelled to comment about how the finite nature of life is "gift" from God that we should not disregard, or something or other to that effect.

Why would the government care about this enough to comment? The only reasons I can think of are that (a) it might actually be closer to becoming a reality than anyone is admitting, and (b) the technology will at first be very expensive, and therefore unavailable to all but the very wealthy. Can you imagine the sort of social unrest that might result if functional immortality is available primarily to well-off caucasians, while blacks and Hispanics are left out? Remember, by 2050 our country will have a non-white majority, and unless I am very much mistaken we will also have had damn near 100 years of affirmative discrimination in favor of protected minorities, with the attendant entitlement attitude that that produces. I can very easily picture demagogues demanding that the technology that has taken years and billions of dollars to perfect being confiscated by the government in the name of "fairness." That will be the last nail in the coffin of our capitalistic system (not to mention representative government), since it will be clear to anyone that any invention could be taken by the government, for any reason, so why bother going to the trouble?

Wolf-Dog said at July 21, 2007 8:25 AM:

"That will be the last nail in the coffin of our capitalistic system (not to mention representative government), since it will be clear to anyone that any invention could be taken by the government, for any reason, so why bother going to the trouble?"
=------------------------------------------------------------

Those new inventions that are strategically significant (or seen that way), are always confiscated in some sense. For example, until the 1930s, every kind of physics, including nuclear physics was being researched and developed strictly at the academic level both in Germany, Japan, France, U.K. and the United States, and there were no government restrictions for the free exchange of information in all areas of physics before World War II. But at some point during World War II, it came to the attention of the U.S. Government that Germany (and also Japan) were thinking of building some new weapons by means of nuclear physics. And at that precise moment, the formerly pure academic nuclear physics, suddenly became a national or government property, in such a way that the research papers of any college professor who invented something new in this subject, could be confiscated or classified, and even the inventor could be punished for revealing it to any entity other than the government at that time.

So if the government confiscates or nationalizes any new invention leading to immortality or any kind of genetic advantage, this will not be something new (as far as politics is concerned.)

But for very deep reasons, I am sure that nature made it sure that it is VERY difficult to acquire immortality.

But returning to the important subject of immortality (or rather who deserves it if it is very expensive), it is not clear whose money is more equal. In other words, it seems to me that how the money was earned, is also important. If some hedge fund manager made billions from using tricky information, is his money more valuable than the money that Jonas Salk did by inventing the polio vaccine? Jonas Salk is almost certainly poorer than many hedge fund managers, but it seems to me that his money deserves more respect, and he should be given the immortality treatment at a lower price due to his merit.

Schloopy said at July 21, 2007 10:55 AM:

We're not running out of oil! (sorry pet peeve.)

We just can't produce any more than we can right now. Other people want more. Supply flat or declining, demand increasing. Resource wars.

End of story.

But I do love that link to The Oil Drum. They do amazing work. http://theoildrum.com if you're interested in learning a lot more about this.

Septeus7 said at July 21, 2007 10:50 PM:

"Their life expectancies at that point might be measured in the thousands of years."

Only if they are rich and not living the "tent-cities" in third-world American or aren't dead because some nut starts releasing bio-weapons to cause a massive pandemic. Well, what this young American thinks by 2057 only the top .1% of Americans will access to the post-trans-human enhancement technology and the Government will have the rest of us either killed through Neo-eugenics/Sterilization while forcing a select few into breeding and genetic modification programs to create a Brave New World type caste system. There is NO HOPE for America or the world so get drunk and post video of your drunk self on youtube.


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