Monday, August 02, 2010

Three factors

A bit of a riff on my 'hate it here' post (NB newish readers should probably see this post for a bit more on the 'hate' part).

I'm not very good at discerning the timing of events - that is, I underestimate the amount of inertia in the system, and things happen much more slowly than might be expected on abstract logical grounds. That said, these are things that I see being important over the next fifteen years or so:

- first, the whole question of Islam/terrorism, and the likely political and strategic conflicts and realignments that might come about in the Middle East;
- second, the ongoing financial crisis and deflation, leading to (probably) a shift in economic power to the East;
- thirdly, crashing into resource limits, especially the peaking of the oil supply.

Now all of these three are going to interact in multiple and unpredictable ways. What I'm pretty sure about, however, is that coming out on the other side, we will be in a very different place. Which is why a lot of the prognostications that depend upon more or less 'business as usual' seem rather unreal to me.

1 comment:

  1. I think that you forgot one other important development. In a world where anyone with a computer has access to many sources of information many institutions will be discredited. The politicization of science will discredit many of the fields that currently get favourable reviews from the public. The AGW fiasco will discredit many established agencies and institutions and will prove to be very embarrassing to most governments. Similar effects will be seen in the medical sciences where less than credible drug studies have been exposed. The public will get tired of 'experts' cherry picking data to produce desired results, hiding their methods and not disclosing metadata that is necessary for replication. They will see those 'experts' for what they are, empty suits who pretend to know more than they do and who are more comfortable pursuing political goals than they are doing unbiased research.

    I also believe that you may be underestimating the coming changes in Western society. The welfare/warfare society in the United States cannot continue because the country is broke. The UK and Europe are also broke and have no way of keeping the promises made to workers who expect a much better in retirement than they are about to get. Voters who see Russian and Chinese energy companies get to develop Saddam's oil fields will be angry about their governments' participation in the Iraqi misadventure. Young workers will be angry that their wages are used to pay retirement benefits that they will never be able to collect. A push for decentralization will take place and the EU experiment will end very badly. The frequency of strikes, riots and disturbances will increase as the economies in the West weaken and incompetent governments act to make things worse rather than let the markets cleanse the system and set the stage for sustainable recoveries.

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