Only a few pages into Albert Brooks’s 2030:The Real Story of What Happens to America, I was struck by how plausible his version of 2030 America felt to me. Based on what 2011 America is like, it is very easy to see how America could find herself in the middle of a generational civil war by 2030 – if not earlier. Let us just hope that the rest of Brook’s vision is not as likely a predictor of the country’s future.
By 2030, thanks to China’s financing of America’s lifestyle, things are still looking good in America. Cancer has been cured and people are living longer, and more comfortably, than ever before. A score of other new drugs have even made it possible for the elderly to look and feel better than they did when they were in their forties and fifties. The cliché that “60 is the new 40” is, in fact, now an understatement of the truth about aging in America.
And then it happens: Los Angeles is leveled by “the big one,” an earthquake so damaging that the government cannot even begin to rebuild the devastated infrastructure of one of its largest cities without a loan of trillions of dollars from China. But this time the Chinese refuse, correctly pointing out that there is no way America could ever pay back the money.
China is not the only creditor weary of supporting a lifestyle in which it, for the most part, does not share. America’s young have reached their own breaking point, and they see only a bleak future for themselves if they have to finance the extended lifetimes of those who came before them. The “olds” sense the resentment directed their way but, despite the increased security measures most of them take, they are more and more often being targeted by assassins willing to die for the cause.
This is Albert Brooks’s first novel and, while it does display a little of the kind of humor the author is famous for, readers should recognize coming in that this is not a comedy. Brooks tells his story through the eyes of several main characters from both sides of the equation: an American president faced with doing something unthinkable if it will save the country; an 80-year-old survivor of the earthquake with no place to go; a young woman burdened by the huge medical bills left behind by her deceased father; a wealthy young man determined to strike back at the elderly; and a Chinese billionaire holding the key to the future of California – and America.
2030 is more warning than farce. This is one road we both could be headed down, America and Europe. Let’s hope that Brooks’s vision does not become our reality.
Rated at: 4.0