In talking with several planners, one at a major decision maker at a huge university, the focus is on the next year, the current budget deficits, and using the past to predict what the next ten years will be like.
So wrong. Between 2000 and 2020, time both speeds up, and slows down. On the one hand, the next decade will go quickly. On the other hand, 2011 will be so different from 2009 that this year will seem the distant past in just 24 months.
For example, 12 months ago would you (or anybody, including the most optimistic train advocate) predict that funding for trains this year would be $8 billion? Would anyone two years ago predict that MSNBC would say in 2009 that telecommuting is "the mainstay of corporate America"? That online grocery services with home delivery would be revived. That the iPhone would be invented. On and on.
There are people whose job it is to plan for their institutions or states for 2020 and 2030. This is both so close, and so far away, that planners need to think big and wide and dream huge. Because the Industrial Age is now crumbling so quickly that the new infrastructure for society has to be planned and built soon, like before 2020.