So wrote a scriptwriter in a movie the rest of which I’ve long forgotten.
I prefer the sign I observed many moons ago at Josef’s Vienna Bakery in Reno: “Eat dessert first. Life is uncertain.”
The fun of the future lies in its limitless flexibility. It’s your plaything, your escape, fresh modeling clay.
Herewith, my personal crystal ball which uses standard business time parameters: short-term is less than one year; medium-term is one to five; and long-term means from 2014 to the day we evaporate in a flash of fire.
Short term: We will keep inventing new and better means of killing each other for increasingly meaningless reasons.
Medium term: The economic devastation of the United States re-shuffles the international deck, giving smaller countries greatly increased power.
Long term: History proves futurist Jane Jacobs correct. The strongest economies in the 21st century become those of emerging nations that split from larger political bodies. (Recent examples: Singapore, Norway, the Czech Republic.)
Comic Relief: Unreconstructed Republicans in Elko County, Nevada, attempt to secede from the union and become a separate nation. They quickly become frustrated that no one takes them seriously when President Jenna Bush sends a single military officer to tell them to back off or she will have them all shot at sunrise.
Short: President Barack Obama finds he has inherited a hollow shell of a government. His attempts to stimulate the economy through increased deficit spending prove ineffective, as the country has been on the economic equivalent of a drug-induced high for the past seven years.
Medium: Largely to avoid the bankruptcy of the Big Three automakers, Obama scuttles his campaign plan and OKs single-payer national health care, a basic government-funded program which covers everyone. Private insurers are allowed to sell plans for coverage above the government base, but few can afford them during Great Depression II.
Long: The Big One finally hits California. More than 100,000 people die in the earthquake. The disaster cripples the U.S. economy, which was just beginning to recover. The formerly rich and powerful United States is forced to accept huge amounts of aid from foreign countries. Learning from the economic success of smaller countries, the United States slowly breaks down into regional zones of economic interest.
Comic Relief: On a narrow vote, the old South decides not to reimpose slavery, opting instead for updated versions of the non-union sweatshops which infect the region today.
Short: Nevada Gov. Jim the Dim becomes the darling of the few remaining conservatives who believe that government governs best by governing least. Gibbons leads by example through not governing at all. Schools close.
Medium: Reno completes its transition from being a gambling town to a town with gambling. Las Vegas fails to plan ahead and much of Gomorrah South dries up along with its water supply and air travel.
Long: Nevada loses two congressional seats because of population shrinkage documented in the 2020 national census. Silver State housing becomes more affordable than at any time since the 1960s. Mining is finally taxed at a fair level and continues to expand, despite threats to move elsewhere. The foreign-owned industry’s bluff gets called as someone finally realizes that companies can move, but minerals cannot.
Comic relief: After being impeached, Gov. Gibbons is asked for his political role model. “Gerald Ford, I guess” he answers, “a president who did no more than preside.”
Short: Charter cable declares bankruptcy, placing emergency broadcast systems in serious jeopardy. (See last week’s column.) The over-the-air digital TV conversion leaves many households dark.
Medium: Failure to build a hotel-casino at the Sparks Marina forces the Rail City into bankruptcy in 2010. Starved by similar promiscuity with corporate welfare giveaways, the city of Reno follows suit shortly thereafter. Washoe County School Board member Scott Kelley is elected Reno mayor as every local government incumbent is swept out of office.
Long: Failing to generate the revenue for a new city hall, the Sparks City Council begins a long-running conflict over whether to move into free space offered by John Ascuaga at the long-closed Silver Club or by Harvey Whittemore at the Red Hawk casino. Whittemore, having hired far more former city officials, is tabbed as the favorite.
Comic relief: As my late wife, Betty, predicted all those years ago, the Mapes Hotel site across from Reno City Hall finally gets a permanent resident, a 7-11 store with three rows of gas pumps.
Short: Pope Benedict XV will continue pontificating in the Gerald Ford tradition.
Medium: As the deflating world economy continues to take its toll, people increasingly abandon sclerotic major religions for new approaches. The burgeoning green environmental movement concurrently fuels nature-based faiths such as Wicca and paganism. American whites find that they have much to learn from the ancient tales of the conquered original residents of this continent.
Long: Because we can no longer afford war, we give peace a chance. The first-ever major redirection of resources away from militarism brings economic recovery at last. Spreading the wealth brings the spread of peace, the fruits of which increase and multiply.
Comic relief: Mainstream religions suffer a body blow from which they never recover as little green men emerge from a spacecraft to hold a press conference. When asked if they have had contact with Moses, Jesus or Mohammed, they respond “Who?”
I get to hold and photograph grandkid number 10 just as soon as I upload this piece to the Tribune. I’m outta here.
Anyone who knows the film or author from which I gleaned the opening quote, please let me know. I detest using somebody else’s work without attribution. (A version of the above Gerald Ford line came from the late Newsweek Columnist Stewart Alsop.)
I wish you the happiest new year possible under current conditions.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. He hosts live news and talk (682-4144) Monday through Friday, 2 to 4 p.m. on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital channels 16 and 216, streaming at Barbwire.TV. E-mail email@example.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.