(Dominic Sicilia is a former' advertising and promotion executive in, the music industry. At the time of this article's publishing, he was a businessman, writer and editor-at-large of the L.A. Weekly.)
IT IS THE FIRST SATURDAY of summer, as ever a day of liberation for kids. But for the fourth year in a row, the number of kids in U.S. schools is at a record low. Having achieved zero population growth, America has stabilized demographically. Nearly the same number of people are born, get to be nine, enter their 50s, and so on each year. But in America, 2002, one thinks young.
Political power has begun to shift away from the four major blocs. Now oil-rich Mexico, the newly industrialized Arab states and nuclear-armed Brazil are in power centers as well as in an increasingly inter-dependent world. But much of the national power is elusive, as real economic muscle has shifted even more to international corporations, particularly to the entertainment conglomerates (CBS, RCA, WCC, MCA-Sony and others) whose profits in global amusement and information have transcended national interests.
MCA-Sony is the most telling example. The original takeover in the 80s of MCA by the Japanese company, Sony, was given fresh impetus by an infusion of Mexican oil money in the 90s. MCA-Sony then moved energetically on the international scene to tie up entertainment, informational, publishing and educational materials and systems in more than 30 countries. Rumors persist on Wall St. that the company is about to make a tender offer to IBM shareholders.
Long-range weather forecasting via satellite became an exact science in the 90s. That knowledge, combined with Americas rich and plentiful land, good water and superior technology, has made this country the supplier of more than half the world's food, 20 percent more than in the 1970s. The Southwestern Land Act of 1986 opened up millions of acres of newly irrigated land for tenant farming by the post-oil boom Mexicans, who bought land with money sent by their newly-rich relatives back home.
Russia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa must import food to survive. This food-interdependence has been a key factor in the balance of world power and therefore, peace.
The tuna dog and the soy dog are America's latest instant food favorites.
The Space Colonies
More than 1,500 people now live and work on four orbiting satellites. A variety Of small manufacturing processes take place in the satellites, utilizing the zero gravity conditions possible in space. The critical micro-technical industry is getting priority on this precious "space-in-space" as it becomes available.
The four outposts are already casually accepted by most of the earth's population. The twice-weekly shuttle flight and easy return, is an important psychological factor for the inhabitants. The waiting time to visit the satellites is now, six years for all but the highest VIPs and critical technicians. To promote the satellites with the public, NASA has set aside a limited number of seats on each flight for civilians. The lottery system NASA adopted three years ago, tickets for which cost $5 each, has proved immensely popular with the public. NASA has already raised $5 billion with the lottery.
The Entertainment Conglomerates
The world entertainment power block consists of the European-based Polygram Group; MCA-Sony; CBS International; Warner Communications Group; RCA International and Transamerica. The biggest in terms of gross sales, CBS International, has recently announced its first $60 billion annual international sales year. The other show business giants have similar growth patterns and the trend is still up. Significant was the recent sale of the first 100 million unit disc. Though sales volume is expected to drop off due to both the growth of home cable and the new LTS laser system which does not require the actual disc, increased use royalties will offset the loss at the bottom line.
Television, which shaped elections through its golden 1960s and 1970s, still figured in the power-balance until about 1990. But its impact was significantly reduced by the staggering success of Beta Max and MCA-Sony's follow-up, Beta-Mix, which allowed people to choose their own, programs free of commercial intrusion.
Ironically, radio is more popular than ever. America's vast radio network turned out to be the key to the 1988 Presidential election. The surprise upset of the incumbent President changed American political, campaigning for ever. The variety of micro print-out, data available to the home screen at the touch of a button is immense. Younger people are conditioned to print-out newspapers, books and magazines.
The persistent backstage struggle between the entertainment conglomerates and the old federal government-corporate alliance has grown uglier. Not since Sen. Joe McCarthy went after communists in Hollywood in the '50s has the situation been so tense.
The struggle is over who will, control the images that influence America. The military-industrial corporations and their allies in government, including a large segment of Congress, wants the government to withdraw satellite and cable licensing permits (or use whatever pressure necessary) unless the entertainment conglomerates change the thrust of their artistic product. Critics argue that the image of Americans as eternally rebellious teenagers absorbed with rock music, dope, sex and technological gadgets-and the money to purchase them-has created a generation indifferent to the defense of the country. The network of defense and oil-line industrial corporations, their profits threatened, see this image as self-serving for the entertainment conglomerates, which, they say, has profited dramatically from Americans who have learned they are supposed to be absorbed with rock and hig technology.