Continuing reflections from my previous blog on the world that the Class of 2009 will encounter in decades to come…
3. Demographic Change Driving Social and Political Renewal
The Class of 2009 will remember their senior year as the moment when the American electorate made history through electing Barack Obama as president. This is just the beginning of large social and political change that will be accelerated by racial and ethnic changes in the population. By 2050, there will no longer be a white majority in this nation. Our national racial identity will be one of great diversity, with the fast-growing Hispanic population driving significant demographic, cultural and social change. In the most pluralistic society the world has ever known, Trinity graduates will have large opportunities to demonstrate leadership in diverse communities locally and nationally.
4. Moderation of Social Class Disparities
I may be well out on a limb with this prediction, but as the deleterious consequences of the recession set in for the next several decades, society will rebalance its ideas about money and social class. A similar rebalancing occurred in the 1940’s as a consequence of the Great Depression and the aftermath of World War II. The emergence of the great American Middle Class in the 1950’s and 1960’s drove new ideas of egalitarianism in ways that were impossible to imagine in earlier eras. Many economists have opined on the ways in which the current economic crisis may have parallels to the Great Depression, but sociologists thus far have not predicted the rebalancing of ideas about social class. Stay tuned…
5. Rethinking Capitalism and Socialism
Heresy? It’s happening already. The economic crisis has already forced the engines of capitalism — the banks — to accept government help to stay in business. While full nationalization of the financial industry is highly unlikely, the permanent engagement of government in the private financial industry is likely to be a reality, if in no other way than a fresh set of regulations that will be more intrusive than ever. When the White House has the ability to fire the CEOs of automakers and to set the compensation packages of bank presidents, we know that capitalism is in deep trouble.
In the same way, it’s impossible to think about serious health care reform without some concession to government-sponsored medical care. Of course, that scenario already exists for seniors and for the poor in Medicare and Medicaid. We also are seeing doctors leaving the profession in droves in certain specialties (eg, OB/GYN) because of impossible insurance rates. Government forces are necessary to rebalance the system in order to keep medical professionals practicing and to make it possible for patients to afford their services. “Socialized medicine” is an epithet in many circles, but the bottom line reality is that absent voluntary restructuring by insurance companies and health care providers, some kind of government intervention may well occur.
6. Ms. President
The election of Barack Obama was a triumph for African Americans, but not necessarily a defeat for women’s hopes for the White House in spite of the sorrow of the Hillary camp. The Obama election revealed the progressive changes in American attitudes about personal characteristics that have been evolving for many years. A woman will be the U.S. president some day, perhaps in our lifetimes. In the same way, I predict that the Supreme Court will eventually reflect the U.S. population more broadly — but that may take longer than our lifetimes given the length of Supreme Court appointments.
More predictions to come…. and please send me yours!