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We have said this decade will be called the “Transformative Twenties,” so let’s explore some of those changes.
North Carolina politics will change dramatically by the end of the decade. Gary Pearce, a seasoned political analyst, notes divisions within our state run deep. They are social, racial, religious and cultural. He could add political. The deep partisan and mean-spirited divisions will be reflected in the 2020 elections that largely revolve around Donald Trump.
He wins our state again in 2020. Sen. Thom Tillis clings to his coattails and wins, but Roy Cooper retains the governor’s office. Democrats will surprisingly take control of the state House and remain in charge of the state Supreme Court, the ultimate determinant for legislation.
A bipartisan coalition will institute redistricting reforms following the 2020 census. The census will ensure us a 14th congressional seat and those newly redrawn districts give even greater political influence to urban and suburban counties. But the great transformation in political power will result not from district boundaries, but demographics. By 2030 even the youngest Baby Boomers, born in 1964, will receive Social Security and Medicare.
Boomer influence wanes and millennials, those born between 1981-96, along with Generation Z, born after 1997, become fed up with North Carolina politics, flex their political muscles and take charge. Their politics is more liberal, less combative and more willing to provide government assistance to those needing affordable housing, health care and education costs.
Three major disruptions will change transportation. Electric vehicles will become commonplace, as gas-fueled vehicle sales peak in 2020, decline to around 65% of sales by 2030 and less than 40% by 2040. Comparative purchase costs will be roughly equal, electric charges will cost half as much as current gas outlays, EVs will travel up to 200 miles per charge and will have a 500,000-mile lifetime.
Autonomous or driverless vehicles will be approved in 2021 and gain rapid acceptance as they demonstrate they are many times safer than human drivers and save thousands of lives each year. Since your car is the second largest investment (next to your home) and is only used 4% of the time, the third and biggest change is on-demand transportation. We will begin giving up our cars. Uber and Lyft now account for 20% of vehicle miles traveled and on-demand is projected to be as much as 80% by 2030, increasing mobility for all age groups.
We will enjoy cash savings up to $5,600 per year as a result of reduced transportation-related costs. As over-the-air TV audience levels continue declining and because more than half of American households have “cut the cord,” cable and satellite companies will allow you to pick, cafeteria-style, those channels you watch.
Most shopping will be online; big-box retailers and malls are converted to offices and housing, however, some unique business models, like boutiques giving highly personal service and Walmart, will survive. Next-day deliveries arrive at your door by electric vehicles or drones.
Corporate focus has been primarily on share prices and profits, but growing demands resulting from increased competition, demand for proportional wage growth and difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled workers will force capitalism to reform and re-emphasize employees, customers and communities.
Recent decades have brought great changes, but as the 1974 Bachman Turner Overdrive song appropriately said, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet.”
Tom Campbell is a former assistant North Carolina state treasurer and is creator/host of “N.C. Spin,” a weekly statewide television discussion that airs on the UNC-TV main channel at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and 12:30 p.m. Sundays and the UNC North Carolina Channel at 10 p.m. Fridays, 4 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. Sundays. Contact him at www.ncspin.com.