Monday, 28 July 2008

Futurecast 2020 by Robert Shapiro

The subtitle of the book is “a global vision of tomorrow”, but this is really a boring book when it comes to visions. A more correct subtitle would be “a mainstream presentation of business as usual slightly more progressive, but not much, than George W Bush”… but maybe that subtitle was too long…

The reason I read to book, and many with me I guess, is that Shapiro claim to have been the advisor to many of the significant Democrats lately. My thought when I read this was that I hope Obama will keep Shapiro very far from any role where he can influence the US policy if he becomes president. Maybe the reason for Al Gore’s poor performance as a vice president was partly due to advisors like this?

It is so US centric and free market simplistic that is hard not to laugh in many places. I would not recommend this book as I think all the things Shapiro tries to do have been done much better in other book.

Two things could make a quick read of this book useful:
1. It is interesting to see the global consensus that is emerging in certain areas and where we most certainly will see discussions and changes in the years to come. Two examples:
- The very poor shape of the US economy and what will happen with the deficit, the demographic challenge [but ignore his suggestions for ways forward as they are more of the same and just create more problem further ahead].
- The need to approach the energy issue from a political perspective, not a simple supply and demand that many economists still do.

2. To understand how certain people cling to a worldview that does not work any longer, but instead of changing the worldview they want to change the world (or turn it back) so it fits with how they think it should be.