A flying car will soon be available for $194,000. Its Italianate name, Terrafugia, translates to Fleeing the Earth, so our Jetsons future is still on, many hope, even as more Americans are sleeping in their cars, and many more are struggling to fuel their lugubrious lemons. The Motor City, Detroit, has been in full collapse mode for decades, to be slowly reincarnated as an urban agrarian zone. Instead of the clanking of heavy machinery, one will soon hear cockcrows among gunshots.
We use more of everything. With five percent of the world's population, we engorge on 24 percent of its resources. Got a problem with that? If we can pay for it, we're entitled, aren't we? But there's the problem. We're the world's biggest debtor nation. We haven't been paying for squat. As a starving planet looks on, we're like the biggest pig who refuses to leave the all day, all night, all-you-can-eat buffet, with our moment of reckoning willed and deferred to our distant progeny. It's a farce, really. As we slobber, no one dares to nudge us from the trough because, well, we're so well-armed. We'll kick your ass! Got a problem with that?
To maintain our position as the biggest loser, we have troops in 130 countries. With the American attention span reduced to a nano second or less, no real pretext is needed when we invade and occupy a sovereign nation. Why are we still in Afghanistan? It's not to catch Bin Laden, that's for sure. His name hasn't been mentioned with any urgency for years. Though blamed for two bankrupting wars, he was invisible during our last presidential election. The Washington Post did reveal, however, that the CIA had made a video of a fake Bin Laden sitting around the fire, talking about gay sex. Though our spooks couldn't stop terrorists from boarding four different planes on September 11, 2001, they were certainly creative, in an Animal House sort of way. Even if this video was never released, no one bothered to ask if those tapes that had circulated were real. Who cares? Have you seen Britney's latest outfit? Likewise, whenever anyone challenges any aspect of the official version of 9/11, he's labeled as a kook, but why should we trust Washington on anything, when it has proven, over and over again, to be incapable of telling the truths?!
Our leaders are unctuous crooks, and the country seems aimless. That's why your average American just wants to be left alone, to resume his shopping spree when the economy does revive. Else, anticipating the worst, he stocks up on ammo, beans and tuna. What's missing is any collective purpose or vision. With each man, woman and child hooked to his own ipod and laptop, we are alienated and alone. Thus, Gary Faulkner, armed with just a sword, knife and Chicom pistol, headed to Pakistan to capture Bin Laden. He took baby Bush's promise to "smoke him out" at face value, not knowing that this threat was no more real than O.J.'s vow to capture Nicole's "real killer."
The creators of the Jetsons also brought us the Flintstones, likely a more accurate portrayal of our future, but in that cartoon, there is also the personal automobile. Spoiled by a century of cheap oil, the American mind seems incapable of imagining life without a nice set of wheels at its center. Made of stones and sticks, Fred's appears to run on nothing. We won't be so lucky.
As the oil age recedes in the mind's rear view mirror, science fiction will become a genre about the past. Pondering those who needed machines to do just about everything, from brushing their teeth, to writing, to self pleasure, future readers will be amused, disgusted and only seldomly envious. Imagine a world where music was a nuisance because it had become repetitive and could not be silenced! Imagine people who could barely walk, yet flew!