Home Main Category Opinion Crystal Ballin’: What Will The Future Bring?

Crystal Ballin’: What Will The Future Bring?

What's it going to be like around these parts in 20 years? Fifty years?

We’re sitting here, trying to get a handle on the stock market, our economy, where real estate prices are headed, whether there will be any room for us in California in 20 years.

The coffee is kicking in, along with the sinuses after a pleasant rainfall, and we’re crinkling our protruding brow line at news that Osama bin Laden ran Al Qaeda like IBM, that the Forest Service is repainting rocks obliterated by taggers in our National Parks – that our nation’s top banks regard us not as customers but as sheep lined up for shearing.

We’ve been in California for four generations. Our ancestors were miners, got an up close and personal look at the Great Quake and Fire of ’06, chased Black Bart in the Gold Country, saw action in World War II and watched – firsthand – as the Axis Powers fell.

All that history is cool, and the ancestors look down upon us from high shelves, but we can’t help but feel that their world is gone and ours is changing forever. We’ve seen it in our own industry, embracing the change that comes with innovation and an evolving culture and attempting to get a handle on where we’re headed.

Unless you’ve very wealthy and can afford the New California Price Tag, many longtime Californians are reversing the Great Western Expansion and are heading back east, seeking out paying jobs, cheaper land, and opportunity in new (oil) fields. The Nouveau Riche-Arrivals come with healthy bank accounts and their own idea of what Contra Costa County, California, and The Nation should look like – and they buy their piece of our Golden State, joining those established Californians with enough wealth to live here and pulling up their drawbridge or sealing off a stretch of California coastline to make it their own personal playground.

It’s the American Dream, we get it. Capitalism drives the country and money rules the day. But something seems amiss. And while the über rich shell out record payments for art and New York real estate, there’s a hesitancy in the rest of the country we know, as if America is holding its breath and hanging onto its money, waiting to see what’s ahead before shelling out greenbacks for a new car or even a Spicy Hawaiian on Pizza Night.

This newfound thrift is oddly reassuring in many ways, those ancestors on those glass shelves smiling down and intoning: “Save your pennies, boy, we ate shoe leather during the Great Depression…” But the nation doesn’t appear willing – or able – to spend money where it is needed, on things like infrastructure, a living wage for its citizens, health care or medical research – areas where other countries make The Home of the Free look like the poor second cousin of the family.

Some other interesting data we’ve come across recently:

  • There are 320,918,790… no make that 320,918,790 people living in the U.S.
  • There is a net gain of one person born within or arriving on our golden shores every 13 seconds.
  • There will be another 100 million of us by 2050, many of them immigrants
  • In 1850, 92,597 people lived in California – there were Grizzly Bears. By 1950 there were 10,586,223 people in the state – no Grizzlies. In 2013 there were 38,441,387 of us – 2,767,779 of whom arrived here illegally.
  • Kids, many of them offspring of new arrivals, are looking to play sports other than baseball or football. 8.8 million kids played organized baseball in 2000. 5.3 million turned out in 2013.
  • Nearly a fifth of all Americans will be foreign born by 2050
  • The Hispanic population will triple – to 128 million
  • The Asian population will grow by 192 percent – to 41 million
  • Nearly 20 percent of the population will be age 65 or older
  • We’re getting fatter (We know, we’re working on it)
  • At least one in four or five people will work from home, up from roughly one in six or seven today. Our population growth is expected to overwhelm our highways and make commuting even more of a nightmarish concept than it is today.

We look to the future with hope and a healthy dose of skepticism, worrying over the numbers and dwindling resources as the New Californians are minted. We’re most interested in what you have to say about current conditions and our future together.

What do you think The Future will bring?


  1. Anyone doing business with Citi, JPMorgan, Barclays, RBS, Bank of America and UBS deserves what they get. Not all of the criminals wearing pinstriped suits and smoking fat cigars died off in the Thirties. Not ONE of these bastards has gone to prison either.

  2. It is plain to see the banks have not learned their lesson and have no fear of regulatory agencies or a federal government unable or unwilling to prosecute them. It will be interesting to see what happens when the American people get tired of being abused in this way. I don’t think they will be so forgiving.

  3. I play this game a lot too. It’s going to get a whole lot more crowded and we will watch from our magic kingdom for a while as countries far away consume their dwindling resources, fight over the scraps and then suffer the widespread kill offs from famine or war we’re already seeing in Darfur, Somalia, Chad, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. I saw today that some of the techies are leaving Silicon Valley with their tech money and using it to buy twice the home they can here in other parts of the country. I agree the city is rapidly becoming the playground of the super rich and the destination point of those who make their living serving them. We could talk crime trends but I don’t think you want to go there.

  4. I think the forecasts mentioned are the boring ones. More population, changing demographics to older people and changing racial make up and hotter temperatures, and such. Fine. But what are we missing?

    Its not the trend but the ‘events’ that are more interesting. The disaster in Iraq that led to ISIS, the 2008 financial meltdown, and others. Mostly predictable. The bits and pieces of information were out there. Some or many put it together and knew but most could not process it all. For the financial crisis, when your cleaning lady has a nicer car than you and talks about how she is shopping for a house, the yellow flag should have gone up. Stories about over-leveraged securities and ridiculous credit ratings. It was there. Few put it together.

    My question, is what are we missing right now that is in front of us. The bits and pieces screaming out that here is the next disaster if you listen. Its there. You are not putting it together. That, to me, is the real tough part of forecasting. Seeing now what will later be obvious.

    • If it’s one thing we can’t stand being, Napoleon, it’s boring. But we hear you. While we are more interested in hearing what our readers have to say we’ll admit to another growing concern and that is the rapidly developing sense of alienation among our fellow citizens. We’re seeing huge divides. And an antigovernment fervor we’ve never seen before. How about you?

  5. I agree that there are very strong anti-government feelings. It is difficult to estimate its intensity versus the past, and the animosity or disrespect can go both ways. Back then we had Watergate. Right now we have NSA surveillance and open hostility by the police in Ferguson. But back then we had Kent State. I am, however, getting away from forecasting. To get back on track, maybe one solution to the alienation we might see tried in the future could be more direct democracy through the use of technology.

  6. My own personal opinion is that immigration, while a good thing for a country for the most part, is eventually going to divide us into disparate groups more loyal to a dozen mother countries than to this one. We’re already seeing the results of deluded malcontents who came here seeking a life of luxury where there wasn’t one. When they realized they couldn’t become rappers or movie stars they decided to embrace the radical teachings of their home countries, rejecting the country that rejected them and killing innocent people. With our current birth and immigration rate I fear there will only be more of this sort of thing to come and that our country will become even more divided than it already is.

  7. “Famine, mass-migration, and militarism. The yacht harbor will move from Sausalito to the Claremont.”

    Ok, the first 3 were easy. Give me another 30 years on the yacht harbor move.

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