Steve Lunetta | What Will the Future Look Like? Part Two

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Last week we looked at this author’s view of how the future will shape up for transportation, retailing, dining, and the home. I’m still upset that we don’t have flying cars.

Let’s take a few moments to pontificate on more topics.

Government/Politics

Like it or not, we have always been a socialized republic. Social Security, welfare, unemployment insurance and Medicare are all examples of this. The thing that always held this back was America’s fierce independent mindset with the belief in the sovereignty of the individual.

We believed in freedom within the context of personal responsibility and a faith-based sense of morality.

We used to be taught these values in schools but no more. Now, children are taught collectivist ideals and the predominance of the group over the individual. They are taught “self-esteem” without understanding that this comes from achievement and not a publicity campaign.

All of this will continue to fuel the tribalism and further fracturing of American society. This will be reflected in leaders being unable to work together, much like the current wall crisis. As is the way in all republics throughout history, ours will probably slide toward authoritarianism unless we can make radical change now.

At the state level, we have a huge unfunded pension liability. Unless public employee unions are willing to stop the pension madness and accept some form of employee 401(k) system such as most private sector employees have, California will be insolvent in five to seven years, if not sooner.

Locally, the victory by Democrats Katie Hill and Christy Smith was quite a surprise but was more an expression of dissatisfaction with the president and an inpouring of funding than anything. I think the district will turn back red in the next cycle but the writing is on the wall.

The Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys will continue to turn blue unless the Republican Party makes the changes that it so desperately needs.

Education

Clearly, education will soon be facing some disturbing realities. The unionization of teaching staff will have a huge impact on the future of public education. We are seeing the tip of this iceberg in the L.A. Unified labor problems right now.

The LAUSD teachers were offered a 6 percent pay increase but the union wants more — smaller class sizes, hiring thousands of new teachers, nurses and admin staff. Sounds great, right? Except there is no money. Increasing labor costs with a declining annual enrollment is creating a budgetary perfect storm.

The LAUSD spends about $500 million beyond their income per year. True, there is a $2 billion slush fund but it will soon be gone, especially with the huge deficit spending. What is the root cause? Pensions. The union-negotiated retirement programs are rapidly bankrupting LAUSD as well as many other public entities.

LAUSD is just one example but it drives the discussion of the future of education. The cost of people in this business will cause more push toward automated learning and charter school funding.

This “automated learning” will cause social problems as districts will be divided into the haves and have-nots due to the cost of computers/devices needed. Parents in have-not districts will push for more funding or more charter schools.

Society

This is the disturbing thing for me. Much of who and what we are is based on that marvelous old document, the United States Constitution. However, the authors of this document assumed a very important thing: faith-based morality would always exist.

I don’t think that it ever crossed their minds that America would become so secularized that the very sense of right and wrong would be endangered.

As church/synagogue/temple attendance continues to decline (and with it, moral guidance), what are young people replacing it with? The latest gossip on Reddit? The opinions of their Facebook friends (whom they have never met)?

Putting spirituality aside, faith has a powerful component in that it creates shared values and norms. Without these, people lose a sense of unity which leads to tribalism and conflict. Sound familiar?

We now quickly move to anger when someone disagrees with us. Technology has had many benefits but it has also allowed uncivil behavior to grow exponentially. I think this trend will continue. By the end of the Roman republic, discussion was no longer the primary means of resolving conflict. It became political assassination.

I thought that I’d be able to wrap up the future in two columns. Boy, was I wrong! Next week will be the third and final installment of the future. Hopefully, I’ll write it from a flying car.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is great at predicting the future. He has a Magic 8-Ball on his desk. He can be reached at [email protected].

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