June 30, 2061
I am dreaming. It’s a cool 72 degrees in my bedroom, just the way I like it. I will be a awake in a few seconds, but I am fighting it as usual. The alarm clock has gone off twice already, but each time, I have given it my chosen command for snoozing, a swooshing of my hand just like the Jedi warriors from an old movie I saw as a kid. I am in denial, but soon another work day will begin.
I am awake now, rubbing the sleep off my eyes. The curtains have automatically opened, as I have previously set them on a timer for 6:30 AM. They aren’t really curtains, but we still call them that. They are really just a dark film on the windows that blocks out the light. Promptly at 6:30 AM, the film dissolved, allowing the sunlight to shine through. It is a bright sunny day, and I am starting to realize that today’s sunlight will be wasted since I will be stuck inside, on my computer all day as I assist my company stay afloat in a slumping economy. However, with 30% unemployment, I count my blessing and don’t complain, lest the company find someone else to do my job.
I stumble into the shower, where 4 jets shoot water at me automatically as I step in. I have no time to waste as the jets will only be on for another 3 minutes. Water shortages have caused the city to require timed showers. If I don’t finish my shower in 3 minutes, I will have to wait 30 minutes before any water will be authorized. That would make me late. Another 30 seconds for brushing my teeth, and one flush of the toilet and I am grabbing my freeze dried breakfast and rushing out the door. I have to get to the bus stop before it leaves without me. It happened to me twice this month already, and everyone knows what happens the third time.
The lack of affordable gasoline has driven most people to public transportation. You would think in this day and age the country would have weaned itself off of oil and we would be flying around in electric cars. Unfortunately, this is not so. Electric cars simply never took off. The cost of the cars never reduced to match their gasoline counterparts. Then the cost of gasoline skyrocketed due to years and years of unrest in the Middle East. Finally, an unwillingness of the American government to drill for oil at home caused most in America to abandon their cars for public transportation. The government now builds and maintains buses. Technically, it is General Motors but the company is fully nationalized due to its inability to stay afloat in the private sector. Ford and Chrysler could not compete and closed their doors.
Once I arrive at work, I stop at the door in front of the building. I am annoyed at having to stop for about 5 seconds while the retinal scan machine finishes its thing. You would think by now they would have improved the system so it scans you as you are walking, allowing the door to open sooner. How archaic. These days there is no such thing as “punching a clock”. Retinal scans have replaced everything with regards to record keeping. About 30 years ago, citizen records were centralized, so that all records are now kept by the government. It was deemed much more efficient this way, since now individual companies did not have to maintain their own servers, reducing their IT personnel. All they need now is the computer equipment to run the retinal scanners and a connection to the government servers. Since the government now produces most of the computer equipment, they also offer the equipment and maintenance at a lower cost, so companies jumped at the opportunity to save money in these hard times. Of course, the money is instead coming out of our taxes.
The records system has been expanded over the years. At first, they only kept employee records to simplify paycheck delivery, taxes, and social security benefits. That allowed them to deliver them directly to employee bank accounts more efficiently. The program was then extended to medical records, so that now no one needs to worry about making sure medical records are sent from doctor to doctor. They are already there. Today, the program is a part of our lives in every sector of society, from grocery stores, to restaurants and bars, to even our food and drink consumption at home. Just recently I was mildly annoyed when my local bar cut me off after only one beer. Apparently, the system knew I had enjoyed a beer at home, and two beers within 3 hours was my limit, given my height and weight, not to mention that my family history showed an incidence of fatty liver. It is all for the best I suppose.
The work environment has not changed much over the years. Well, of course, now our computers are much smarter. They know how many keystrokes are necessary for a day’s work, and it politely warns you when your productivity is slipping. If you fall too far below, it may lock you out. This is no big deal. All you have to do is notify your supervisor, who records the incident, then unlocks you. A good employee learns how to mange it so it only happens a couple of times a month. Oh sure, some people have been fired, and of course, they always complain that it was unfair, that it wasn’t their fault. They are just whiners. If everyone would just comply with the rules, life would be better for all of us. Don’t they know that?
At the end of the week, we all get paid. Instead of a paper check, we just get an email telling us we were paid, and then we can check our accounts online to see the amount. The amount changes every week now. When social security and medicare ran out due to government mismanagement, something had to be done. Our poor and elderly had to be cared for somehow. So now, a portion of our checks still go for these benefits, but it is no longer called Medicare and Social Security, and none of it goes to fund our own retirement. The money now goes directly to the sick and poor of our society.
Essentially, it is a mandatory charity. Social Security retirement benefits no longer exist. Those who age in our society continue to work as best they can. The only people who are eligible for benefits are those whose illnesses are on a list of approved illnesses, are over 70 years of age, and cannot work. They are housed in government run facilities that provide medical care and meals, although their families are also required to help pay the cost. A portion of these funds also goes to government sponsored housing facilities for the poor, which provide temporary housing and meals. The amount deducted from our salary changes each week depending on the needs of our specific community. Sometimes the fluctuations can be significant.
While there have been many advances in society, it has brought about the need for adjustment. Most can no longer purchase homes on their own, since a larger portion of salaries are going to the government to help those in need. Extended families now live together under one roof to save on expenses. Tax is now a consumption tax, so the more we consume, the more tax we pay, and most of us ration our consumption to be able to keep more of our salaries. The good thing is that obesity is now becoming a thing of the past. A growing black market makes the streets a dangerous place, but since consumption is now discouraged, most people stay at home anyway, safe from the lawless in society who try to break the rules and avoid paying their taxes by buying homemade items on the street, rather than from government approved retailers.
Such is life in our times. Occasionally, we hear the President on TV. He usually tells us to stay calm, work hard, and soon we will see relief from our economic worries. After all, the corrupt politicians from 50 years ago caused this mess, and it will take some time to crawl out of it.
All we need is a little patience.
Do I believe this is really our future? No not really. But folks, we are dealing with some serious issues in our society. This post above takes an extreme view of our future, but I do believe some of these things can happen if we don’t make the right decisions today.
I have hope that America’s best days are yet to come, but we all need to take some interest in what is going on in our country, and make some hard choices.
And dare I say, maybe we could pray a little more as well…