Our nation's anniversary is approaching. Today, nearly 235 years after the Declaration of Independence, we are still grateful to Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and crew for what they started.
Still, there are things our Founding Fathers did that still have us, in retrospect, shaking our heads in confusion or disdain.
Powdered wigs? Corsets, square-toed shoes and tri-cornered hats? They used outhouses without applying hand sanitizer afterwards. They only allowed landowners to vote.
They also drove native peoples off their lands, and supported slavery.
My question is, in 2246, what will people read about us in the history books that makes them laugh or frown?
From a 23rd century perspective:
▶ People paid $4 for a cup of gourmet coffee? That's expensive, even after 235 years of inflation.
▶ People paid $4 for a gallon of gas? Now gasoline costs $1.8 million per liter on eBay. (Yes, eBay is still going strong, and is in fact the largest corporation in the United States of Google.)
▶ People died of cancer? Now every child gets a cancer inoculation as an infant.
▶ They traveled around in vehicles powered by fossil fuels, which poisoned their own atmosphere?
▶ They watched television on two-dimensional screens as tiny as 52 inches wide?
▶ What was up with that college football bowl system? In 2246, there is a college football tournament and "December Madness" is the nation's most-watched sporting event.
▶ They used money made out of paper? Paper that tears, wrinkles, shreds, burns?
▶ They read books written on paper? Paper from countless ravaged forests?
▶ Television stars made a thousand times what policemen, teachers and ice cream truck drivers made? Now that has been reversed; television acting is mostly terrible, but every criminal is caught, and every student graduates.
▶ Hard-working citizens got two weeks of vacation in a calendar year? Now everyone gets at least two months.
▶ People who were sick didn't go to a doctor because they couldn't afford it?
▶ Everyone had the vote, but less than 50 percent of them used it in most elections?
▶ How many people died from excessive speed and drunken driving? Why wouldn't they have the computer drive their fusion-powered flying car?
▶ Baseball umpires were human? Now — at levels all the way down to Little League — they have been replaced by infallible robots.
▶ Billion dollar corporations got away with paying little or nothing in taxes? Now they fund most of our government, and still turn a healthy profit.
▶ Why did people wear uncomfortable clothes to work every day? In 2246, every day is casual Friday.
▶ How did gay marriage actually threaten heterosexual marriage?
▶ What was that rap music about? Today, disco has been shown to be the true king, and our most popular band is a holographic image of the Bee Gees.
▶ The New York Yankees were the winningest team in baseball and were allowed to spend eight times as much as the lowest revenue teams? Now they're one of six teams in the New York Metro area, they're spending the same amount under the salary cap as the other 53 teams, and they're riding a 214-year championship drought.
▶ Human beings went down into mines filled with coal and chipped out toxic materials?
▶ People buried radioactive nuclear waste, and put their trash in giant landfills? Why wouldn't they just launch both into the Sun with NASA's garbage catapult?
▶ People kept cats as house pets? In the early 22nd century, cats were found to be plotting against humanity and were extinguished. Now, most homes have a friendly river otter or a parrot-dolphin hybrid pet.
▶ Air was free? They didn't have to pay a tax or anything?
▶ Wars were fought with guns, bombs, missiles and human blood? Today, wars are fought on computers, with the winners getting cash, vacation property and priority seating.
▶ Flush toilets? They didn't have underwear that automatically recycled waste?
▶ Male pattern baldness was mocked? Today, bald men are considered more virile and intelligent.
▶ What was with the artery-clogging food? Now everything comes in a calorie-free capsule that gives full nutrition to the body and the complete sensation of flavor to the brain's censors. Except for the things that shouldn't be tasted. We're looking at you, cauliflower.
Contact Steve Ouellette at: email@example.com