What will it look like? First, there will be people who will not be able to work. They will work for almost nothing. Some businesses will be put out of business because the raw materials and cost of making the product exceeds the price they can sell it for. Other companies will drastically cut their workforce.
The IT department has no value add , anymore. Management has already figured out that their competitors are pretty much going to do the same thing they're doing - so the idea that they can gain a competitive advantage with their own department is pretty much water under the bridge. Installshield wizards replace alot of desktop tech support; better and more streamlined management tools replace some of what DBAs and Administrators were doing with networked databases. Automated and off-site recovery is cheaper than on-site staffing. And offshore development is cheaper, and more effective than on-site paid staff. So expect the IT department to go away.
What will replace the IT department will be the few people that can do sort of everything, the people who can do phones, networks, and ad-hoc programming - as well as connect the company to the other offshore and offsite resources it needs.
Public Relations, or PR, is changing as well. Many companies are beginning to realize that their description of their products and services, easily searchable by the web, is becoming a main conduit for doing business. Television advertising audiences are down, in 18-24 demographic, by nearly 40%. The most watched ad for this season was created in a Garage by an amateur, and posted on youtube. Advertising companies that "place" ads for companies for maximum effect, will see a radical reduction in staff and opportunities.
Finally, Lobbyism is going to get the axe. A new wave of elected representatives is arriving that have been put in power largely through small donations; the idea that the lobbyist's money or influence is necessary is largely water under the bridge. Recently, Obama found that a former Senator he was scheduled to meet with , registered to become a lobbyist for a BioTech firm. Obama cancelled him offstage, at the last minute under a blanket policy of not appearing with any lobbyists. He can do that because the biotech money that would have otherwise flowed into his campaign coffers was not needed - during the last finance period, he raised 52 Million dollars from small donors, a massively dispersed constituency. This allows Obama to be able to respond to any given issue without the delicate balancing act of behind the scenes forced compromise.
A major event, as we reach the bottom - will be the final undoing of the work the Bush Republicans have done - and a spirited debate about the direction of this country. Look for the Debate between McCain and Obama, in the fall - to see two totally different views on where our country should go. Its likely that McCain will espouse the Bush Republicanism that has gotten us into this mess - he will mouth the words that the corporations feed to him. However. What is cool about McCain is that he's taken chances before, in his career - and he probably will do so, in the fall. Which means that we will have two men who have both taken chances with their careers - at the podium. And that will mean, finally , a spirited debate. There's been too much teleprompter in the debates of the past, style over substance. This debate is going to be pretty epic.
And from the ashes of that conflict the direction will rise, as to where we go to get out of it. But right now, whats important to realize is that this is what its like to see a country crash. Look around, and remember it. Because when your grandchildren ask you how the great crash of the early 21st century began, you will know what to tell them.
Look around, enjoy it one last time. Then picture the shopping malls deserted. Real Estate for Sale. Deserted roads. "Feel Good" Eating Emporiums shuttered. Businesses closed. People cutting back everywhere.
The alienation and isolation of a consumerist culture will fade. And in its place, a form of community will build. You might find out who your neighbors are, or, who you're playing second life with, or get to know your mom a little better. You might be able to help out someone who comes to your door unannounced. Warchalking will appear in cellular form. Youth hostels will find new business. People will get together to do things, in a less expensive and more efficient way. America will change , socially. The ideals that we were built upon, of self reliance - our country as a beacon of democracy - will shine.
This going to hurt , just a little bit.