Not too far from now......
He wakes up and sighs. They fired him last week. His unemployment benefits, such as they are, will kick in next week....but with so many unemployed, or already reduced to poverty from paying into the unemployment funds in the first place, he's only going to get about a third as much money as one's supposed to get. The government has no way to solve this problem; inflation has reached the point where printing more money will render the existing cash flow almost useless pieces of paper, and they can't raise taxes on people who are already at the poverty line. Can't get blood from a stone...
Of course, most transactions are done through debit cards now, but even the creative bookkeeping they can do electronically can't make more money without jacking up inflation even higher. Even the hackers are starting to abandon that particular crime; there's almost literally no profit in it anymore.
But of course, he would rather work anyhow. At least as an alternative to surviving on the meager dole. His own money, such as it is, will run out in little more than a month. What he had in the bank has long disappeared after endless reforms and bailouts of the banking system whittled it away. He had been forced some time ago to the old hiding-it-under-the-mattress trick. So, once again, he heads out the door to look for work.
He can't afford either a computer or tv anymore, never mind an Internet connection. So he watches the public video displays as he walks. They had seemed a good enough idea at the time; turned out they were just one more crippling economic burden. Now the vidscreens are cracked, the picture losing it's color and breaking up into tiny digital blocks every thirty seconds or so.
The news is as it has been for some time. Another bailout and more financial reforms are proposed. Chances are they won't pass; by this time, even the politicians have been forced to admit they only make the problems worse.
This doesn't stop the crackdowns on free speech and self defense, though. The left long ago gave up on the notion of the right to self expression (though this has done nothing to stop unrest, and in fact increased it); the right long ago gave up on the notion of the right to bear arms (though this has only caused gun related crimes to intensify). More and more, politicians from both parties talk about "safety" and "control". Each party's ideology has been reduced to the concept of power. All other parties, of course, have been banned, forcibly disbanded, and their leaders arrested.
He sighs and shakes his head; what was the old saying about throwing your vote away? At this point, it was surprising voting was still allowed at all. Not that either side offered any real improvement, for all the candidates' protestations otherwise.
One job he could get, of course, is to enlist. The ever-expanding wars in the Middle East, South America, and the new naval battles against China have caused the draft to be reinstated for all men between eighteen and thirty, and all women between twenty and twenty-five. He was already in his mid-thirties when the draft came; but volunteers are welcomed, even encouraged. A soldier or sailor can expect slightly better wages and health care than a civilian, and perhaps more importantly, is guaranteed a roof over their head and three square meals a day.
Assuming you don't die in combat, of course.
He doesn't want to do that. His best friend and former roommate was a veteran of the first Gulf War, and re-enlisted out of a sense of duty. He was a navy man, and so went to the Pacific front. The submarine he was in was sunk by a Chinese torpedo.
But even if his friend was still alive, he wouldn't have gone. What were they fighting for now, really? Safety? Security? The freedom of the peoples in the lands they had invaded? No. If any of those goals had ever been true at all, they weren't now. Now it was simply that the leaders of both parties didn't want to lose.
Except the naval battles with the Chinese. That was something more like self-defense. The Chinese had been expanding their influence into the Pacific; Japan was essentially their colony now. The North Korean "crisis" had been resolved when China had taken direct control of the satellite state. This had ended the nuclear threat from North Korea, but that was just about the only bright spot in the whole mess.
Instead, China itself had become a much more conventional threat. China is, he realizes with dim humor, becoming what America had been about fifteen years ago; the great world power. Not that such wouldn't have happened eventually anyway....it just didn't have to be so bloody. At least China wasn't committing ground forces to an invasion of the US...yet. Small mercies.
He shakes it off. He is determined to get a mundane job if possible. He doesn't want to go on the dole, what little of it there is; but he wanted to fight and die in an unjust war even less. If the Chinese actually did invade, he would take up arms and defend the homeland, yes. Not before.
But first and foremost he would try to find a job.
The restaurants were full. A lot of old people whose social security payments had likewise faded or who had lost their retirement accounts as part of the financial reforms took many of the jobs, at least those still physically able. The rest of the jobs were taken by teenagers not yet ready to be drafted. The remaining jobs were few and far between.
He'd tried almost all the restaurants....wait. The food kitchens that served the homeless. They didn't pay much, but at least it is honest work, and helped others to boot.
He strides off down the street, renewed purpose in his step.
As he walks away, he does not see the vid footage of the last of the 'tea party' protesters being systematically executed on the east coast, and the last gay rights protesters being rounded up and sent to camps for 're-education' on the west coast.