Year End Predictions and Suggestions for the Reasonably Insightful
I had a mentor called Bob Kutak who favored making predictions because they were thought provoking, and nobody remembered them. His mentoring took place before there were far out calendar reminders to send us back to look at our own.
Last January, Frazer Rice and I did a podcast on predictions for the coming year. It was recorded in late December of 2019. There was one reference to China, but it was in the context of Hong Kong and it related to an anticipated contretemps at the Tokyo Olympics, which did not end up happening at all.
There was not a single reference to COVID, which was about right for the time, but definitely points out the flaws in predicting. The unexpected can be lurking, but we have to know about it before reacting to it.
Bravely, here is a link to a discussion between two reasonably insightful people that shows just how far off the mark reasonably insightful can be.
I know I am a sucker for a well-reasoned “sounds good” assessment even though they don’t always turn out to be right. I also think that I stick too close to consensus reasoning and am probably not brave enough. Then there is the conflict between what I think and what I hope.
Frazer made a reference to pop culture and I replied, “my playlist includes Peter, Paul and Mary; actually, I don’t have a playlist but, if I did, it would.” In 2020, I subscribed to Spotify, which was an excellent decision. The late 50s/early 60s trio figures prominently.
We tut tutted about the role of the Federal Reserve having not the smallest idea of what was to come.
We reflected on the 20% increase in the stock market in 2019, again without the smallest notion of what would happen in 2020 or how unlikely that would be during an epidemic.
When I began typing, I was all set to say what a boob I had been, but I really did not do so badly in a most unusual year. Here are my three from last year with some contemporary observations.
- The “get elected” industry will have record revenues in 2020. It did. More than $14 billion. They must have been ecstatic about the windfall of the two Georgia Senate runoffs. Nobody seems to care much that the masses of small dollar contributions are being siphoned off to other purposes.
- The value of thoughtful writing and editing will continue to decline. This is subjective but it seems to me that it did. Newspapers seems to have given up being thought leaders and have become thought followers. They might keep readers temporarily by telling them what they want to hear, but eventually the readers will become bored. I have and I am looking for an alternative method of being informed.
- The things we don’t hear about or read about will continue to be more important than the things we do hear about and do read about. COVID and presidential mental health certainly make the case for that proposition.
For 2021, instead of predicting, I will make three suggestions of things that ought to happen.
- President Biden should make his entire agenda about restoring the capabilities of the federal government and restoring trust in elected officials. Use a meat axe. The risk of getting rid of something useful is far exceeded by the risk of keeping things that are useless. When every member of Congress is enraged, and Biden’s approval rating is at 30%, he will know he is on the right track. A good start would be the elimination of every privilege that differentiates elected officials from others. Specific shaming would be salutary. If he were to succeed, his legacy as a great President would be assured.
- Pop the balloon of higher education. It is not doing what it needs to do and at great expense. Its abject failure to lead is shameful. During COVID, the selfishness of charging full tuition and fees for services not rendered has shown the most elite institutions to be mere “credentialers” not educators. Soon, there might not have any prestige left to sell.
- Create an alternative to news media that provides the information that reasonably insightful people need to have. TV news is hopeless; cable news is worse. Newspapers have become reader followers rather than thought leaders. You build it and I will come. I will not be alone.
If Bob Kutak had any thoughts on making suggestions rather than predictions, he never shared them with me. My guess is he would have liked these.
Add your own thoughts in the comments and have a Merry Christmas and a most improved 2021.