Michael Barone

There are common threads running through these mistaken projections. One is the extrapolation of recent trends far into the future. History doesn't proceed like a straight line on a graph; sometimes the lines bend.

Another is the assumption that progress means ever-larger states and increasing superintendence by international elites.

But much unpredicted progress has occurred when nations freed markets from the grip of centralized states and private sectors produced innovation that the supposed experts failed to anticipate.

A third common thread builds on the insight of economist Herbert Stein, who said that anything that could not go on forever would some day stop.

This prompts a question: Which of the widely accepted prophecies of today will seem as invalid today as the Club of Rome report? I have my own nominations, made with some confidence since actuarial tables tell me I will not be here in 40 years.

One is that the Chinese Communist regime will remain in place. Remember that it seemed on the verge of tottering in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It's lasted 25 years since, thanks largely to robust economic growth.

But certain dates in history -- 1789, 1917, 1991 -- tell us that sudden upheaval is possible when a regime's legitimacy seems exhausted.

And will today's conventional wisdom that the planet faces inevitable warming seem as risible in 2054 as the Club of Rome's prediction of exhausted resources seems today?

We are told that "the science is settled," when it is in the nature of science never to be settled, but always to be subject to verification and revision. I think we're in for more of that.

Finally, those widely shared views that America's best days are over. That's never been a good bet and I suspect it never will be.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM