But, and as we saw at last week's City Council meeting with SCAG's widely ridiculed "2012 Regional Transportation Plan," a report that revealed predictions about growth in Sierra Madre based on some of the worst math this side of the 4th grade, this growth visioning thing can be dicey. And yesterday, in our post regarding Lynne Plambeck's observations about Santa Clarita, we saw how SCAG's strange assumptions were shown to be wildly inaccurate there as well.
And then there is this. In April of 2006 the Metro Investment Report, using SCAG's vaunted "Growth Visioning" methodology, made these prophetic observations about vast population growth and an accompanying job boom in Riverside County:
Southern California is growing very quickly. Sixteen million people now live in the six-county SCAG region. About six million more will join us in the next couple of decades, and that growth is dispersed all over the Southland. Riverside County will double in the next 20 years or so, and some forecast that by the year 2040 up to 4.5 million people may live there ... In just the last decade the SCAG region added about a half million jobs and almost 2 million people, and we've built about 400,000 homes to accommodate them. But we needed about 630,000 to accommodate that population to avoid severe overcrowding. If you think long-term, and long-term isn't that far away; it's just two decades - we need to add 2 million homes.
Ah yes. The mighty crystal ball of SCAG saw massive population growth that would require the building of vast quantities new homes in Riverside County and elsewhere. But as anyone who knows the fate of all those previous SCAG inspired and now derelict housing projects throughout the Inland Empire can tell you, this additional construction would have become part of the economic disaster as well, not only for those banks who would have irresponsibly invested in it, but also the taxpayers who'd be forced to bail them out. The population explosion didn't happen, the jobs boom turned out to be something quite the opposite, and a lot of the houses built in anticipation of these prophesied events now stand empty and unwanted. Monuments to SCAG's failed soothsaying abilities.
So I had been trying to recall the name of a famous seer who started out making bold predictions that at first seemed somewhat plausible, but as time went on turned out to be wildly inaccurate. Kind of like SCAG. But I couldn't think of any such prophet to save myself. But then fate intervened and, by chance, the great visionary was revealed to me.
I had stopped down at the Sierra Madre Public Library a couple of weeks back to see what they were pushing at their big book sale. There was some good stuff there, and I bought a few books. Something to add to the already immense pulp pile in my garage. But one book in particular caught my eye. "Criswell Predicts: Your future from now to the year 2000!" Published in 1968, it is filled with stunning predictions of fantastic future events, all of which would have taken place during a 31 year span ending in August 18, 1999. That being the day Criswell predicted would mark the end of the world.
So who exactly was Criswell? Apparently he was a famous 1960s futurist, one that appeared often on The Tonight Show and Jack Paar's numerous TV specials. Here is some of the information I found about him on Wikipedia:
Criswell's predictions were nationally syndicated. Additionally, the psychic appeared on the television show Criswell Predicts on then KLAC Channel 13 (now KCOP-13) in Los Angeles, as well as being recorded for syndication in other television markets ... Criswell authored several books of predictions, including 1968's "Criswell Predicts: From Now to the Year 2000." In this book, the author claimed that Denver would be struck by a ray from space that would cause all metal to adopt the qualities of rubber, leading to horrific accidents at amusement parks. He also predicted an putbreak of mass cannibalism and the end of Planet Earth.
Rubber rays from outer space, mass cannibalism, and the end of life as we've known it? All by 1999? Talk about your "growth visioning." Surely this is the man that inspired SCAG to make its decidedly similar bold predictions about the future!
In the interest of looking back across the span of years that Criswell leavened with his many notable predictions, we've decided to highlight a few. All to help further your edification and appreciation of this man's incredible visionary powers. And in many ways these predictions are as accurate and dependable as those the prophets at SCAG send our way. An organization whose methods have made them the Criswell of our time.
Here are a few tells from his 1968 opus, Criswell Predicts:
Birth Control (page 10): I predict that birth control will no longer be a major problem in the United States. Placed in the water system of the country, in every city, regardless of size, will be chemicals that will act as contraceptives for the entire populace. In addition to this, the electricity that comes into each home will have certain ionic particles that prevent conception.
Television Education (page 13): I predict education will be given children through the television screen, no personal teachers, but there will a warden on duty to see that one hundred percent interest is sustained. Later education-memory pills will help give you all the education you can possibly use.
California Earthquakes (page 16): I predict that the strongest earthquake in the history of the U.S. will virtually wipe out the city of San Francisco on April 7, 1975. A huge fault, familiar to all geologists, will give way, and the earth will split open from north of San Francisco to Los Angeles. Damage in Los Angeles will be less than in San Francisco.
Castro Assassination (page 20): I predict the assassination of Fidel Castro by a woman on August 9, 1970.
Ronald Reagan (page 35): I predict that Ronald Reagan will not seek re-election as Governor of California.
Interplanetary (page 37): Las Vegas, Nevada, March 10, 1990: The very first Interplanetary Convention will be held in the new Convention Center on the famed Strip with colony citizens of Mars, Venus, Neptune and the Moon in full representation.
Facelifting (page 42): I predict that by 1980 you will be able to lift your own face in your own home for only $5.00. A new chemical that will be developed in our Veterans Hospital for battle scar tissue will soon be available to the public. You will buy it by the jar, put it on your face, and in three days look half your age.
The End (page 95): The world as we know it will cease to exist, as I have stated previously, on August 18, 1999. A study of all the prophets - Nostradamus, St. Odile, Mother Shipton, the Bible - indicates that we will cease to exist before the year 2000! Not one of these prophets even took the trouble to predict beyond the year 2000! And if you and I meet each other on the street that fateful day, August 18, 1999, and we chat about what we will do on the morrow, we will open our mouths to speak, and no words will come out, for we have no future ... you and I will suddenly run out of time!
So there you are. A tradition of prophesy carried forth into the latter half of the 2oth century by Criswell, then brought into our time by SCAG. Now you might say that Criswell's predictions were even too nuts for the '60s, and nobody could possibly have given them much creedence. But you know what? Criswell Predicts sold over a million copies and was widely discussed in its time. And SCAG? Entire cities have been uprooted and rebuilt based on its equally suspect prophesies. Which just goes to show the need many have to believe in such things.
Criswell still has his believers, and they defend their hero by proclaiming that it isn't that he was wrong, it's just that the rest of us weren't right. Such apologia being similar to the strategies SCAG's defenders use, you know? Because the Southern California Association of Governments certainly could make their predictions of the future stick if only we the fallible would just do what they tell us to.