To my descendants in the twenty-second century:
I thought I would post this brief sketch of the time in which I live, which otherwise will seem quite unfamiliar, perhaps incomprehensible, to you so far in the future. I wanted you to hear things from me, rather than from recordings of what we now call “the media,” lest you suspect that they were just kidding.
A major amount of our attention is given to politics, and we have two main political parties (in addition to Indepundits, Liber-Contrarians, and a new group called the Teed-Off Party). The major parties—the Demoquits and the Republicannots—have dueling philosophies. The Demoquits—when they are not on the verge of abandoning their principles—simply believe in helping those who need help. The Republicannots, on the other hand, have a much more complex philosophy: help those who don’t need any help whatsoever—the richer and more privileged the better—so that some benefits will trickle down to the middle class and then hopefully (or not) a very small amount to the most needy. The Republicannots cannot abide those they view as an ignorant, lazy, and criminal class, so over the years they have tried to keep them out of the better schools, refused them good jobs, and had the cops crack down on them. Curiously, these policies have not seemed very effective.
In the financial arena, policies led to a crisis in 2008 when we very nearly suffered another Great Depression. It’s a little complicated to explain—involving sophisticated financial elements described by complex terminology like pyramid-scheme incentives, mortgage shell games, loan-sharking monetary markets, offshore-casino banking transfers, and clairvoyant visions—but all representing time-honored American business practices. Some thought these invited regulation, but the practitioners themselves sought to put their profits where their lobbyists are, and some executives were able to use government bailout funds to give themselves multi-million-dollar raises. Are we a great country or what?
Although increasingly out of work, Americans were kept happy focusing on our rich popular culture through venues like Purple magazine, the Inside Perdition TV show, and limitless others. These featured the private lives and loves of such role models as Tom Craze, McDonna, and Miley Circus—not to mention the occasional billionaire like Donald Trumpet, or golfing sex-cat Tiger-r-r Weeds. We learned in titillating detail about the upper limits of breast implants, and there was a steady diet of TV programs about overeating and of movies featuring cannibalistic zombies. (I played a role in one of them.) For weeks we watched horror-stricken as an underwater drilling accident caused millions of gallons of crude to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, before the well was capped and the oil magically disappeared overnight during a press conference.
Throughout all these hard times, many were comforted by religion—nowhere more energetically represented than at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. There one learned that evolution was a fraud perpetrated by the Devil, and belief in it could lead to moral decay, natural disasters, war and famine—possibly, one wonders, the economic downturn as well. Just the thought of such possibilities could apparently make statues weep and holy persons break out in stigmata or begin to speak in tongues.
No doubt things are better in your time. Computers have surely bought enlightenment to everyone, or have you even gone beyond computers? I have wondered whether—as many now predict—books will have ceased to exist. When you invent a time machine, would you get back to me?