Dystopian Futures Ahead?

I know, Orwell’s “1984” was the most depressing work describing what the future would be like. But what about a future where the economy stays in a perpetual depression sort of like the 1930’s-but stretching on for decades?
Suppose we run out of oil real fast, and world trade takes a deep drop-taxes rise to confiscatory levels, so people abandon cities and move back to the land…is it possible that a 1930’s style depression could last 30-70 years? We are still making huge technological advances, but who can pay for advanced genetic engineered medicines if nobody has a paying job? Could the world evolve into something like the way Greece is today?

Since this is MPSIMS, little me will take a shot at this.

I don’t envision any of that likely, or even possible. There are so many technologies and capabilities that didn’t exist in the 1930’s, from communications technologies to food production. Everything has improved from those days. We have more opportunities for opportunity than back then. Our world is much more sophisticated. Earth’s educated, experienced human capital of today puts us at a massive advantage over those old days. There are a few hundred million (billion?) additional trained professionals all over the world working today than in the '30’s. Think of today’s engineers, scientists, physicists, etc, and all the tools available to them. Humanity’s ability to adapt to change or crisis is greater now than at any time in the past.

The sky is not falling, it is simply changing color.

This would not work for them. If taxes rise to confiscatory rates, then there’s nothing to stop the government from gathering taxes in kind. This isn’t in theory, this is what actually happens. They sometimes even take so much food from the farmers that they can’t feed themselves.

So while I do not think that your scenario will happen, if this part of your scenario does come true, moving to the country will not help anyone (unless for some weird reason the government treats it favorably.)

Nah, I think all of our worst dystopian futures are behind us in the past.

ralph124c asks: “…is it possible that a 1930’s style depression could last 30-70 years?”

The Great Depression of the 1930’s dragged on and on, and seemed very resistant to any attempts at quick recovery. In the context of this, John Maynard Keynes developed a new economic theory, since known as Keynesian theory, which you’ve surely heard of.

One of the principles of this, contrary to conventional belief, was that recovery would NOT be more-or-less automatic, nor easy. According to the math of Keynes theory, an economy could fall into a state of prolonged low-level productivity and remain stable there for indefinitely long, requiring active government intervention to get out of it.

Legend has it that a reporter once asked Keynes if the world had ever before seen such a great and prolonged depression. Keynes answered: “Yes. It was called the Dark Ages, and it lasted 400 years.”

That’s unlikely for the near future. With fracking, we could be energy-independent by 2030. And we’re also getting lots of natural gas.

But assume global warming really will be as bad as scientists say. We will have to severely limit use of fossil fuels to reduce CO2 levels to the level needed to ward it off.

At the very least we will need lots of electricity from other sources. We could switch to electric cars, but the energy released from burning 1 gallon of gasoline is about 34 kwh. The only source of replacing that energy that is known at the moment is nuclear power. Those plants take years to build, so we need to start NOW, and they don’t last forever so we have to keep building them. We can pray for success in fusion power plants or near-miraculous developments in alternative energy.

Without any of those, we (or at least our children) will experience an extreme reduction in our lifestyles, and millions all over the Earth will die.

Suppose the USA continues to amass public debt until lenders decide we can’t repay what we owe. When that happens, things will go VERY bad VERY fast. It’ll make the Great Depression and today’s Greece and Spain look like a day at Disneyworld. We can’t go on increasing our debt forever. And if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. Loans that cannot be repaid, won’t be. Promises that cannot be kept, won’t be.