We are at a stage where the next decade or two is fairly easy to project...
Stock market values will leak down in fits and starts to a fraction of their current "worth" as they have been propped up by manipulation rather than production. Why slowly? The system has been designed -- whether intentionally or not -- to make it difficult to do anything other than invest in Wall Street. It is quite likely that the government will increase the early withdrawal penalty in order to discourage people from taking money out of the market. The market will drop a bit -- say 2000 points -- in the next year or two and then stabilize after various laws are put in place and then collapse once it is clear there is no value. The collapse may be 15 years out. [Later note on 10/13/07: What can we count on? Firstly, the government will change the rules so that getting out of the market is more difficult. Big pension plans will stay in the market and by doing so, keep it propped up for a long period of time. Public and private plans will not be able to meet their obligations and the general public will want to be let off the hook for funding retirement for that segment of the population who have defined benefit retirements. Many lawsuits.]
We will transition from a wasteful society to a resourceful society. By necessity, rather than design.
Our education system will shift from developing manipulators to developing producers. Again, by necessity, rather than by design.
Almost all trees in urban areas -- at least on private property -- will be cut down for fuel. Obviously, this will occur more intensely in colder climates.
Most people who work in offices will lose their jobs in the next few years. One consequence will be a collapse of real estate values as current values are a consequence of two wage earners per household.
Many of the wealthy will leave the country for places like South America. It has been reported that George the 1st has bought a ranch in either Uruguay or Paraguay. Those who are perceived to be instrumental in this manipulation phase of empire will be about as popular as Nazis after WWII -- and they will flee to the same part of the world as the Nazis did.
I think that it will be possible to find quality in the future, but it will take the creation of new institutions and the transformation of existing institutions. Universities will have to re-tool from developing wasteful individuals to developing resourceful individuals.
I have characterized my concept in various forms through the years. It may be easiest to envision a first-class university whose mission is to work on the human predicament. Funding will come from patrons who provide capital in return for access to the physical infrastructure.