2076: A far scarier scenario
Editor’s note: This column is a continuation of a previous piece in which the writer imagined “the rosy picture” of America come the year 2076. This, in turn, envisions a far gloomier future.
As Americans entered 2076, the tri-centennial year, there were no plans for national celebrations, because the USA no longer existed. The people were still there along with geographic boundaries that served no purpose.
The demise of America had started gradually with significant Supreme Court decisions that eroded and finally ended the concept that the Constitution was the Supreme law of the land. The legal idea of “emerging international standards” became the supreme law.
The ratification of the Treaty of Brussels meant that the United State gave up its’ sovereignty by accepting membership in the European Union. All issues involving monetary policy, sovereign debt, taxation, economic planning, and foreign policy now were subject to approval by the European Parliament. Americans accepted this because they had been convinced it would be economically beneficial.
America’s military decline, long predicted by many, took place during a brief Pacific war over Chinese claims to islands near the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan. Although America was prepared for counterinsurgency wars, it had neglected its navy.
Within a single day, two obsolete American aircraft carriers were sunk by advanced Chinese supersonic stealth ship-to-ship missiles. Thousands of Americans died. Like the defeat of the Russian fleet by the Japanese at the Battle of Tsushima in 1905, the balance of power in the Pacific had shifted.
China immediately became conciliatory by asking for a peaceful settlement, providing medical care to captured Americans, and returning POWs.
American public opinion was against a long war with China, and a negotiated peace was signed in the Second Treaty of Portsmouth. The United States withdrew all its’ forces east of the International Date Line, agreed to allow Chinese fishing vessels within our 300 mile economic exclusion zone along the west coast and Alaska. We agreed to the Chinese demand not to station U.S. Marines in the Pacific.
Numerous American military officers committed suicide when ordered to cease hostilities against the Chinese.
The American government, as a cost saving measure, mothballed the Pacific fleet, abolished the Marine Corps, and combined the three service academies into one. All the Asian nations, including Japan, accepted Chinese hegemony in the Pacific. The sight of Chinese warships and fishing trawlers off Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego became commonplace.
America’s 400 million people were aging. Their birthrate was below replacement level, the average household consisted of 1.4 people, and over 50 percent of households consisted of single people, up from 25 percent in 2013.
Less than a third of adults had ever married, 92 percent of children were born out of wedlock, inflation had wiped out the middle class, and 3 percent of the population owned 98 percent of the wealth. Twenty-five percent of single men and women, aged 18-35, no longer dated but used robotic sexual partners.
The standard of living of Americans, adjusted for inflation, was about that of 1950. Entrepreneurship had died because of high taxation and governmental regulations. Only 25 percent of the adult work force had full time jobs, now defined as working more than 20 hours per week.
Social commentators noted that most Americans suffered from a deadly combination — hedonism and apathy. People no longer felt in control of their lives, and that all levels of government were not responsive to their needs.
Like people under the Roman Empire, “bread and circuses”, kept the populace quiet. In 2076, governmental income transfer payments, electronic games and media dulled people’s senses. ambitions, and physical strength. Americans no longer played active games but watched genetically modified athletes instead.
The great institution of public schools no longer existed. A network of private, charter, religious, on-line schools, and home schooling had replaced it. Without public schools, Americans no longer shared common values. The ability to write cursive, spell, and engage in face-to-face conversation had died out. International measures of educational achievement placed Americans in the bottom third.
According to some Christian theologians, America’s abandonment of Israel led to God’s punishment against us. This was a minority viewpoint, but by 2076 Israel no longer existed. The majority of the world (including 96 percent of those living in Europe) accepted the view that Israel’s establishment in 1948 was a mistake, an injustice to Arabs, and consequently, Israel had no legitimacy.
The stopping of America’s military aid and a worldwide economic boycott of Israel led to a collapse of Israeli morale. Within a one-year period, most of Israel’s Jewish population had fled to the only places in the world that would take them: Australia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, and the five American states of California, Florida, New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The small remaining Jewish population of what was once Israel converted to Islam or was killed. There were no American military forces anymore in Europe or the Middle East to help them.
Jewish religious practices in America declined due to cultural assimilation and governmental actions. Most American states banned “kashruth,” kosher slaughtering meat, as being too painful to animals, and circumcision as being too painful to male infants. Despite these restrictions, Jews and millions of Arab refugees from 60 years of Sunni and Shiite conflicts felt safe in America.
Although 30 percent of America’s population considered themselves happy in 2076, and the economy was starting to recover from a half-century of decline, one despondent observer wrote “that in their hearts and souls Americans had withered away”.
July 4, 2076, passed unnoticed and unobserved.
Rick Sirvint lives in Rindge.