Recently a friend asked me, “What do you think life and economics will be like in 100 and 200 years, if no catastrophe derails the progress of civilization and technological development?” To this question about the American Future, I replied,
As you might expect from what I have written in the past, I think your premise about civilization avoiding catastrophe to be problematic. Nevertheless, if I accept your premise, I would have to say I have very little clue. However, whatever its shape, the economy should be largely independent of government management and control. The reason why I expect this is that this is the only way your premise could be true. Without a free-market economy, government-induced catastrophe would inevitably hit us. Witness the economic stagnation of most of Western Europe and the United States over the past several decades, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, modern day Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, etc., etc.
Nevertheless, one can think of various possible trends for the American Future of differing plausibilities. Let us take a look at what I think are the more probable possibilities. Before we do that, however, let us think of the binding constraints reality puts on these thought experiments, and how we should go about conducting them.