2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America
2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America is an intriguing vision of America’s future written by Albert Brooks. Albert Brooks is among the most inventive practitioners of motion picture comedy, as well as one of its most incisive commentators on contemporary life. Considering our country’s current economic, political, social, and financial situation 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America has some interesting ideas to what the world we live in could possible be like. In the future America of “2030,” the national debt has long since surpassed the gross national product. Why anyone wants to be president is “more and more of a mystery.” On the greener side, a cure for cancer has been found, turning the man who did it, Dr. Sam Mueller, into a billionaire and a guru. Along with a stock of lesser rejuvenating drugs and gadgets, Mueller’s breakthrough has left senior citizens cheerily hogging most of the country’s remaining resources. Seeing their own chance at the good life shrink to zero, young people are forming “resentment gangs” and committing acts of escalating violence against “the olds.” The white house first Jewish occupant, the brainy but melancholy Matthew Bernstein, would like to give them a fairer share of the pie, but even he does not dare risk the wrath of AARP. Early in “2030,” “the big one” finally hits Los Angeles; an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 that kills nearly 50,000 people while leaving most survivors homeless. Even though Brooks scenario thankfully leaves out nuclear meltdowns, his descriptions of the aftermath resemble the images from Japan more than he would probably wish. For president Bernstein, however; the pressing issue is the nations pocketbook: “Where in Gods name would the money come from to fix Americas largest city?” the cost of rebuilding Los Angeles is 20 trillion, and you can guess which foreign country can still afford that kind of loan. Off to Beijing goes Bernstein’s engaging new secretary of the Treasury, a former C.E.O. named Susanna Colbert. While imaging a likeable version of Carly Fiorina may be Brooks biggest leap into fantasy, the Chinese turn Susanna down. “You are a bottomless pit and we no longer feel comfortable feeding it,” she’s told, only to hear they’ve got another arrangement in mind. Meanwhile, the other members of Brooks large, unwieldy cast are getting on with their assigned chores. In Indianapolis, young Kathy Bernard once voted “angriest girl in her sixth-grade class,” and now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt after her fathers death falls for a charismatic budding terrorist named Max Leonard, who’s dreaming of a “final solution” to the age problem. A grumpy codger named Brad Miller is camped in a refugee tent city in Pasadena, fondling a brochure for the new “retirement ships” (floating old-aged homes) now that his condo is uninhabitable. As AARPs point man on youth violence gets wind of something major brewing from his new lover at the Justice Department, a health entrepreneur named Shen Li is pondering the business opportunities created by the latest American catastrophe. In this very plausible future, politicians are legislating all they can to keep the country going long enough so that the Baby Boomers can continue to enjoy the lifestyles to which they are accustomed at the expense of the following generations quality of life. This is the core social conflict of Brooks description of the future, not a culture war or class warfare, but strife between two generations known as the older generation that wont let go of what it has and the younger generation that has nothing. Baby Boomer Democrats refuse to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits because it is their generation that is starting to make use of them, and when Democrats and Republicans talk about raising the age of receiving Social Security benefits, they are invariably talking about the change being imposed on the generations...
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