by Kevin Baldwin
I've been told many of you stopped paying attention to much of anything after the 2010 midterm elections, so here's an update. The “shellacking” of the Democrats extended into 2012 and swept Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell into the oval office.
The real tipping point was peak oil, which was actually reached in early 2011, but couldn't be confirmed until just before the election. Saudi production fell off a cliff and nothing could replace it. Gasoline shot up to $5, $10, and then $15/gallon. The world suddenly seemed both smaller and larger at the same time.
A rehabilitated Ted Haggard (who since stepping down from his church in 2008, received a JD from Regent University) was nominated and confirmed to replace a retiring Chief Justice John Roberts just last year.
The financial meltdown that began in the waning months of the Bush II administration accelerated not unlike that of the Arctic ice cap, which is now a memory for much of the year. Inflation got so bad that dollars are now either burned to generate heat in the winter or are stitched together to make fabric. “New Madras” as it is called was created by an Indian fashion designer as kind of a post-post-modern joke, but became a legitimate staple of the clothing industry almost overnight, being both colorful and breathable.
Money became so devalued that, in scenes reminiscent of Weimar Germany, people had to carry money to the bank in the back of their SUVS. I know what you're thinking: How are people still driving those dinosaurs? Many have been converted to burn biodiesel, which is now rendered from liposuctions, a surgery that people are now paid to receive, so valuable is their biofuel. A few lucky individuals (about 1% of the population) are able to rapidly regrow adipose tissue following the surgeries and can be milked periodically for their lipids. Incidentally, the skin from the various tucks made possible by aforementioned liposuctions, is now a highly prized designer leather having great strength from supporting so much weight while being extremely supple. Courtney Love just covered Nancy Sinatra's “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'” as part of an ad campaign for some new footwear. But this won't last, food has gotten so expensive that what obesity remains in the population is rapidly diminishing.
The US population has greyed considerably as baby boomers have continued to retire. New classes of dementia are being described as people who did lots of drugs in the 1960's are running into new kinds of cognitive limits as they age. DSM VI promises to be even thicker than its predecessors. To keep costs down many are warehoused in what used to be big box stores. It is amazing how many people can be crammed into one building. These facilities are staffed primarily by Iraqi and Afghan immigrants. Some accountant at an insurance company figured out that people from countries with the highest population growth rates would be willing to work for the lowest wages. Not surprisingly scenes reminiscent of Abu Ghraib are occasionally playing out in nursing homes across America. What goes around, comes around, as they say. But the real competition for these jobs is now from Bangladeshi refugees who are increasing in numbers and desperation as they flee from the encroaching Indian Ocean, whose rise is being driven by the spectacular meltdown of both Greenland and Antarctica.
Another healthcare cost-cutting method has come through the innovation of so-called “brown market” pharmaceuticals, which are reclaimed from sewage by genetically engineered algae. There is an interesting tension between insurers that are trying keep down costs and pharmaceutical companies that are trying to boost sales of newly manufactured meds. More than one drug company is trying to engineer drugs that can only be used once. I imagine insurers will try to counter with processes to subvert that technology.
Well, I've got to go to work. I used to data-mine for one of the Big Brokerages, but since the collapse I mine treasure at Fresh Kills, which is now enjoying its third incarnation as a source of valuable materials, having previously been a landfill and then a park. In a few more years, it will no longer be the tallest point on the Eastern Seaboard. Now that's progress, isn't it?