Ten Things, Year by Year, To Expect By 2020

Today is December 31, 2009, the last day of the year and of the decade. That has a lot of television shows, newscasts, radio programs and blogs reminiscing over the past, detailing events that are no longer in our control.

I, however, want to take this opportunity to look forward. So in doing so, here are a few things I expect by 2020, year by year.

2010 – Political fallout.
Obviously, 2010 is just around the corner, so you probably don’t expect me to expect much in such a short time. Conversely, by the time 2010 is over, I expect the entire governing system to be in shambles. I know that’s not a very positive outlook, but I speak from the heart. With elections coming up in November, there is sure to be some reform enacted by American voters. That means more Democrats out and more Republicans in. Regardless of which party has power by the end of the year, it’s safe to say that neither party will have supreme control. Lacking the control in Congress, with a populist President, is going to make passing a bill harder than getting Martin Lawrence back on Saturday Night Live.

2011 – Darren Rowse will rule the media world.
For those of you who don’t know Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net, you will. He’s not the most entertaining guy, nor is he the most interesting, but he knows how to build followings and he knows how to make money off of them (he would have been a hell of a preacher). He runs a series of blogs, most notably “Pro Blogger,” in which he tells other people how to build good blogs. His face is on everything; from blogs and books to websites and ad campaigns. It’s only a matter of time before he’s making TV appearances in the U.S. and is giving you speeches at your Fortune 500 retreat. Believe me, Rowse is coming for you!

2012 – Palin Will Win the Republican Nomination.
It seems crazy to me, too. However, people love her. She just finished second in a poll of the most admirable Americans, behind only Bill freaking Clinton! Listen, I know there are a ton of people that dislike her, but most of those people wouldn’t have voted for her anyway. She’s beloved by her cult following, as proven by her record book sale numbers, and she’s got a way with words—no matter how misguiding they are. Believe it or not, “In Palin we Trust,” isn’t that far away from reality.

2013 – Barack Obama will be President Again.
If you thought a brotha was going to get in the White House and give it back to the man after just one go-around, you need to have another thought coming. With all that Palin talk, let’s not forget that there’s no way in the world that she’s beating Obama in a debate. With all due respect, I would buy stock in Saturday Night Live right now if I could, because the ratings they are going to get during that election season will break records. But who knows. By 2013, Obama may be the fodder of a few more punch lines himself.

2014 – Radio will die.
I love radio. I listen to the stuff everyday. It was a habit I picked up from having to sit at desk all day. Of course, I also worked in radio, so that probably fed my interest in it as well. That said, I don’t know anyone my age who listens to the stuff. Some people listen to it in cars, and I guess that is how it has always been. But with a big push to newer, leaner cars, and with incentives to get rid of clunkers, it’s all the more likely that new cars won’t have AM/FM radios anymore, opting for iPod docks and whatever the next generation of music creates.

2015 – Electric cars for everyone!
Speaking of cars, if we don’t have fully electric cars in 5 years, then we just don’t care. Seriously? How hard is it to make an electric car? The only thing slowing us down now is testing, testing and more testing. The monetary incentive to get all that testing over and done with will ramp up over the years, and somebody will figure out how to get these automobiles running on electrical energy—if not something even less problematic!

2016 – Americans will shift to a lower standard of living.
Sorry, but it’s going to happen. Economists are saying we won’t even get back to a level of 5% unemployment until around 2016. Even if that happens, and many aren’t sure that it will, it will only be because people aren’t looking for full-time jobs anymore. The fact is that China makes products more cheaply than we do, and that’s not going to change. We will have to go back to the days before we were such a global economy, when one parent mainly stayed at home and the other went to work for 12 hours a day. No more McMansions or intense credit card spending. Instead, America will go back to a time when we were actually prospering. Go figure?

2017 – College won’t be a child’s first option.
Because of that new economic outlook on life, I really believe college enrollment will decrease. I know this flies in the face of educational reform and the growing population, but given the craziness with which college costs rise and the diminishing returns graduates are getting on their degrees, people are really going to stop looking at college as the golden egg at the end of their high school careers.

2018 – Broadcast Primetime will be dead.
As someone considering a role in television, this prediction should scare me. Of course, I should qualify it to some degree. Primetime won’t be all the way dead. Plenty of live shows and reality programming will be available to amuse the masses from 8 to 10 at night. But all of those lovely, creative, awe-inspiring programs you watch on NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC? They’ll be gone. They just can’t afford them. By the time 2018 rolls around, those audiences will be long gone, and so will the advertising revenue. Shows on HBO, Bravo, Showtime, MTV and the like are already better than the shows you see on broadcast television. Thus, the big networks are really going to have to leverage their power otherwise, either by promoting their cable networks or integrating less-expensive shows into the digital world.

2019 – Harlem will look like Hell’s Kitchen.
And for my New Yorkers out there, you won’t have to wait until the Mayor’s anticipated NYC 2030 designation. By 2019, you will see some significant changes north of 96th Street. Anyone who lives in Central Harlem can already see the diversity that’s embarking on this part of the island. With condominiums being built like crazy, there’s no denying that certain demographics can better afford to buy housing than others. That’s going to mean a few more specialty grocery stores and several less fried chicken shacks in this part of town. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad.

2020 – This goes into the next decade, so I won’t go into detail. But I will say four words. Facebook will own you!

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