Saturday, September 03, 2011
Albert Brooks: 2030: Until debt do us part
Title: “Twenty Thirty: The Real Story of What Happens to America”, a Novel (aka “2030”)
Publication: New York: St. Martins, 2011, ISBN 978-0-312-58372-9, 375 pages, hardcover
Want to know what happens to America? It’s not like “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “2010” (already passed). No, shortly after 2030, the US gives up its sovereignty (and a lot of people’s civil liberties) to China. Donald Trump told us so.
In fifty-seven short chapters, Brooks lays out, in real time, docudrama fashion, how America unravels under its first Jewish president.
Cancer and (more or less) heart disease have been “cured”, and the elderly, with their clout, are living forever. Medicare benefits have been slashed, and their adult children are getting stuck with the bills. (Brooks could go into detail on filial responsibility laws if he chose to.) And the health care system is still fragmented into islands of self-interest.
Most of the US budget is taken up paying the debt. Then, one June morning in 2030, LA is leveled by a 9.1 earthquake. Flash mobs rule the city, and the US cannot afford to rebuild. So it enters into a political “parthership” with China to rebuild, eventually jeopardizing its sovereignty.
For newly homeless seniors in LA, the new powers that be come up with an ingenious “final solution”: retirement ships. Seniors turn over their lives for little cubbyholes on a ship that carries 2500 of them at a time out of harms way forever. But that sets up the climax of the “novel”: the hijacking of the ship by the rogue “young people” who, among other things, demand that no one be allowed to vote after age 70.
Brooks does allude to various other issues, like how the news media has become fragmented by bloggers and amateurism (p 38). He mentions gay bars and a gay conservative writer at one place (is that me?, or is it “Gay Patriot”?). He could have talked more about the “demographic winter” issue, but his view is that the senior care crisis is coming anyway (he could have gone into Alzheimer’s more). At one point, a younger character expresses the view than an elderly person has lived his life and it's the young person's turn. But the young people have been assigned the filial debt of their parents and grandparents.
There is something about a catastrophe of the size of the LA earthquake in the book: it makes the monetary system and paper wealth rather irrelevant.
Michelle Singletary, Washington Post financial columnist, wrote a review and dire warning based on this book Aug. 7 here, "'2030': This financial horror story could be our future", link here.
The AP has an embeddable clip:
Check YouTube also for a NYTimes interview of Brooks.