Running the futures — why I knew we were screwed some time ago
It is better to meet danger than to wait for it. He that is on a lee shore, and foresees a hurricane, stands out to sea and encounters a storm to avoid a shipwreck.
Charles Caleb Colton
I think for me it’s a mom thing, but a mom thing built on a life platform that included childhood abuse, being a street kid and being in a juvenile institution. It’s basic extrapolation in most ways, but I call it “running the futures” because what I do is look at a situation and run it out to its logical conclusion.
Do you do that, too?
It really began to form as a life skill when I became a parent and it quickly became obvious that if I didn’t learn to stay a step or so ahead of my little geniuses, they had a very good chance of ending up dead. “No, get down from there,” was actually “If you run along that brick wall at that speed, the toe of your shoe is likely to catch in a space between bricks, sending you flying and the possible ends to any of that range from a bloody face to actual death, so Slow the Fuck Down.”
If you’re a parent, you do that, too, right?
All too often, maternal admonitions landed on deaf ears and, sure enough, some degree of physical damage was taken during their now long past childhoods — a few nearly fatal. Because that’s parenthood — the most glorious, impossible, frustrating, magnificent job for which we have no more training than the parenting we got.
Oy. And furthermore, vey.
It was pretty inevitable that I would wind up taking this idea and applying it to the rest of my life. If I chose to do whatever I was considering, what would likely happen? What would the consequences be? I would take it step by step, adding layers, tweaking with vagaries and variables untl I had a pretty sturdy, three-dimensional mental view of the likely futures that could come of whatever choices faced me.
As long as I remember to do this, it saves me from a world of hurt. That’s as long as I remember.
It applies just fine on a larger scale, too. It allowed me to see the great recession of 2008 coming long before most people even saw it coming.
It started with the gas prices. While driving to work, I got to thinking about how, when gas prices go up, everything does, because of transportation costs. So I visualized what would happen to families having a much larger chunk of their budget going to gasoline and hence, far less to spend on luxuries. They would be watching more TV and fewer videos. They would be making their clothes last a lot longer or going to thrift stores. They would be buying more staples and fewer tasty treats. In short, they would start conserving their money rather than spending it, which meant unemployment for the people whose livelihoods depend on their little luxuries selling, and then the people dependent on them, and so on and so on — and that’s what would bring it all down. Because the economic health of the world depends on not so much the existence of money but its circulation, and I could see that was grinding to a halt.
It’s a bit more complicated than that, but in the end, that’s just what happened.
Fast forward through the Obama years as I watched our past president do what he could to save us while the ghastly wall of decaying, obstructive old man flesh (and a few, horrid, patriarchal women) did everything they could to obstruct him. Somehow, he brought the economy as far back as he could in the time and under the circumstances he had. Why? Because he loves this country and its people — which means that yes, President Obama loved us enough to put up with a Teapublican shitstorm for nearly a full seventh of his life.
So imagine how I felt watching Donald Trump storm the fragile minds of conservatives, with their tenuous grasp of practical reality, their biological dependence on fear as a personal guidance system and their completely incomprehensible ability to literally watch their religious and/or political hero committing or admitting to crimes so heinous that it makes the liberal head spin and still insist that it never happened.
Totally fake, folks. We have the greatest fakes. Greatest fakery in the world. Yuge. You’ll love our fakes. Totally believable and you will believe them. I guarantee it.
It felt like disaster on a scale I had never personally seen coming at our reasonably water-tight ship. We had just about righted it, only to watch conservatives open up all the valves to flood it again.
So here we are. We have President Trump, who gives all evidence of narcissistic sociopathy and the temperament and impulse control of a toddler. He has no concept of how a real government works, nor does he care. He will approach this country as if was a for-profit corporation run to make as much money as possible for himself and his cronies.
He’s already started. It began when he gutted a new regulation that helped people with their mortgages and signed to start the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It will proceed as he dismantles consumer and environmental protections we’ve come to count on. Even as I write this, he’s adding to the list of horrors he’s unleashing on us.
A forward-thinking man would delight in finding ways to help keep the American people healthy on every level, including financially. After all, it’s common knowledge that a healthy middle class is the foundation of a healthy society. This lumbering orange lamprey of a man thinks of this world and its inhabitants only in terms of business — how to grow it, how to make it dominant, how to create a more nurturing climate for it. To do so will require him to use every nasty, selfish, cheating trick he has while simultaneously screwing we, the people, as much as humanly possible. Because money in our pockets isn’t making him a dime, now is it?
But shall we hearken back to 2008? To the understanding that a healthy economic system doesn’t require the owning of great swaths of money but to the circulation of that money. When our system is deliberately retooled to the near-exclusion of all but the elite, super-rich, we get poorer. Which means we spend less. Which means luxury businesses fail. Which means their people are unemployed — and so on and so on and so on, just like 2008 but with a truly nasty twist unique to the lurching parasite the conservative dupes blasted past the majority vote to put into office. Add in the destruction of environmental protections, the easily manipulated sycophancy to authoritarian figures (particularly the Russian one), the empowerment of abuse against all this bastard considers “other” (anyone not a white male, for the most part) and We Are Fecking In For It.
Mind you, we won’t make it easy. The glorious, global, millions-strong Women’s March was proof of that. We are an enormous presence, not easily deterred. But he’s President, backed by monsters of his own ilk, and he is hunting us down as fodder to fuel his drive toward infinite power and wealth. I can only imagine the tiny little erection he gets at the thought of the bounties of world domination.
Oh, wait. Let’s not and call it good.
People, we’re all going to have to run the futures as if our lives and our children’s futures depend on it more than ever — and to act to prevent whatever disaster President Babyhands is herding us toward.
The consequences if we don’t will be unpayable.
(Dan P. McAdams’ outstanding article in The Atlantic: The Mind of Donald Trump)