Welcome to the Savage World of the Year 2009

“Welcome to the savage world of the year 2009”. That was the tag line of the 1992 sci-fi film Freejack , starring Emilio Estevez. Do you remember it? The movie that featured Cadillac Gage V100 wheeled APCs painted in bright colors? My old friend All-Grace-No-Slack-Really-Reformed Kris just reminded me about this movie. Kris noted: “It was a bit corny but it had some good scenes and characters such as Amanda Plummer as the gun-toting nun.” This film provides an insight on what futurists then thought 2009 would be like, as well as a retrospective on life in 1992.

Let’s look back at 1992: It is amazing how much the world has changed since 1992. To me, it doesn’t seem that long ago. In 1992 I was 32 years, old, and our first child was an infant. In 1992, .308 ball cost $180 per thousand rounds, a Colt M1911 cost around $350, and cases of MREs could be bought at gun shows for around $30 each. Back in those days, I was running a mail order business from home, selling magazines. I was buying M1 Carbine 15 round magazines in cases of 100, for $90 per case, and re-selling them by the onesees and twosees for $3 per magazine. (One of my “get rich slow” ventures.) In 1992, you could still buy a plane ticket for cash, and stroll right up to the departure gate without a ticket in hand. Yes, there was a metal detector, but you could board a commercial flight with a pocketknife with a single-edge blade less than 2-1/2″ long. (Remember when knife catalogs had “Airline approved” models?) In 1992, gasoline was $1.05 per gallon ($1.09 for premium), and a good loaf of bread still cost 49 cents. In 1992 you could take a car trip into Mexico or Canada, with a smile and the wave of your state driver’s license.

In 1992, I owned a small ranch near Orofino, Idaho. House prices there ranged from $39,000 to $155,000. (In 1989, we had paid $29,000 for an unfinished house on 40 acres.) Silver started that year at $4.20 per ounce, but drifted down to under $3.70 in December. (It was still in the midst of a two-decade long bear market.) A semi-auto AK-47 cost $179, an AR-15 was around $500, and an M1A was $800.

Fast forward to 2009: The local gun shops are chronically short of ammunition, and what little they do receive from their wholesalers sells out immediately, at an average of $1 per round. Today .308 ball costs $900 per thousand rounds, a Colt M1911 costs around $1,200. A case of MREs can cost upwards of $90, and a loaf of bread is anywhere from 99 cents for the dreadful “air bread” to $4.69 for the good stuff. Gas is back up to more than $2.50 per gallon. A semi-auto AK-47 costs around $700, a low-end AR-15 is around $1,200, and a standard grade M1A is $1,600 if you can find one. Today, people line up like sheep and remove their shoes before boarding an airplane, and opening a checking account requires umpteen pieces of identification. Now, thanks to “Homeland Security” regulations, they will turn you down if you don’t have a physical street address. (BTW, that gets a bit sticky here in The Unnamed Western State, where lots of my neighbors live so far back in the boonies that they don’t have a street address. The bankers get all befuddled if you start quoting the Township, Range, and Section numbers of your quarter-section.

In 2009, house prices are still plummeting from their 2006 highs, but still quite “spendy.” A house around Orofino with a good spring now costs around $400,000. Who knows? In the current bear market, the price of houses may not bottom until they are close to their 1992 levels. Oh, and wait a minute! Firearms manufactuers are now working around the clock, and prices are expected to soon come back down. In 1992, a Steyr AUG cost $800, but then they peaked in 2008 at around $4,000. But now new production AUGs (made by Steyr in the US) have hit the market for under $1,800. You gotta love a free market economy. Maybe the more that things change, the more they remain the same.

The “Freejack” script was loosely based on Robert Sheckley’s novel “Immortality, Inc.” The screenwriters had a few things right, but plenty of things wrong. For example, the “destroyed ozone layer” hasn’t wrecked our health. And I don’t feel at risk of my brain being hijacked. But, then again, I don’t own a television.