Martha Thomases: The Future Is All Right
The electricity, heat, hot water, Internet and phone service all work today. Even my elevator works. Doing without is last week’s news.
This week’s news is the election. As I write this, people are voting. We won’t have results until tonight at the earliest. Since I’ve voted already, I’m going to try to ignore the media until the polls close. There’s nothing more I can do, and that is frustrating. I want to do everything, and I can’t. If you are a spiritual person, pray for me.
For the last few years, my Republican brother-in-law has been telling me that the problem with the economy (and Obama’s presidency) is “uncertainty.” Because job-creators don’t know what Obama will do, they hesitate to expand, to hire more people, because what if they make the wrong choice? As someone who started a business (albeit in 1979), I can report that I never knew what was going to happen, nor did I expect to. It was my responsibility to make things happen.
According to Aaron Ross Sorkin in The New York Times, the election won’t make any difference in solving this problem, even if things go my brother-in-law’s way.
What will the future bring? We don’t know. When I was a kid, I thought the future meant I’d have a jetpack, or a flying (electric) car, and my clothes would have those pads on the shoulders like everyone wore on Krypton and the Legion of Super-Heroes. My apartment would clean itself. I thought we’d get our meals in pill form. I thought we’d wear Dick Tracy two-way radios.
Instead, we’re still dependent on fossil fuels. That’s bad. We don’t have pills for dinner. That’s good. I couldn’t have predicted the local food movement, but I’m really happy because now I can tell the difference among 15 different kinds of apples.
Then there are the things I didn’t even think about to form a prediction. Gay marriage became legal instead of marriage fading away as an institution. Instead of working a George Jetson three-hour work week, we expect employees to put in 50 hours or more. I don’t have a robot maid, but I could have a robot vacuum cleaner if I wanted. I could have a robot dog. I carry around more computing power in my pocket than there was on the entire Star Ship Enterprise. That’s dazzling, even if I use a lot of it to send photos of my cat.
We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. That’s what makes life interesting.
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman