As the year winds down, I’m feeling pretty good about my life for the near- and medium-term, but more and more pessimistic about the world — and since job prospects in my chosen field are closely tied to university endowments, that pessimism leads to long-term pessimism about my life prospects as well. Perhaps writing about my negative presentiments will help?
Predictions for 2011:
- Fillibuster reform will fail — and even if it succeeds, it will be abusable and therefore still abused.
- The government will figure out some way to paper over the foreclosure crisis — the banking system will stumble through this one, even if the concept of property rights will be fundamentally altered for the worse. This is my most optimistic prediction, actually.
- All protest movements will fail to achieve their goals — everyone will be really glad that the spirit of protest is still alive, etc., but the austerity plans will go forward regardless. This will accelerate the next step, given that austerity actually hurts the economy and therefore makes it more difficult to pay off government debt. (It’s kind of like if I lost my job, then decided that part of my debt-payment plan was to stop wasting money on food and basic hygene — that’d really help my long-term income prospects, right?)
- Sovereign debt problems will get worse in Europe — I’m not ready to predict a full-blown crisis, however, because the European Central Bank can continue to do just barely enough to keep the system going. Unfortunately, since many of its actions appear to exceed its official mandate, the ECB will probably not be able to aggressively get ahead of the problem and head off needless human suffering — but we don’t really care about “needless human suffering” anymore, right? It’s more important to make sure that the accounts balance properly.
- The Republicans will do something stupid with the debt ceiling — Obama will broker a brilliant deal made up of 99% of what the Republicans want and 1% of what centrist Democrats are arguably maybe willing to accept, then he’ll publicly complain about the doctrinaire liberals who are threatening to ruin his presidency by complaining about stuff.
- Pope Benedict will continue to say really stupid things — maybe something along the lines of “child abuse is a horrible crime, but what critics fail to recognize is that some of those kids were actively trying to seduce the priests.”
- House and Cuddy will break up — House will be tempted to go on the drugs again, but at the last minute Thirteen will show up and reveal she has always loved him.
Overall, the world will continue to be pointlessly cruel as our moneyed masters make it ever more clear that they hate us and begrudge us our every small comfort. Companies will continue to take advantage of mass unemployment to discipline their current workers through fear, and knowledge of this dynamic will allow them to lay off more people than necessary. Vital public programs will be gutted while state and local governments squander public money trying to bribe companies into hiring people. The life prospects of millions will be pointlessly ruined through short-sightedness and greed.
Populist rage will continue to be directed toward the lower classes rather than the actual perpetrators, because populist rage still hasn’t reached a point where it’s more potent than the fear that our rulers will force us down to that lower level as well — as is often the case in America, what appears to be populism is actually a roundabout way of sucking up to the powerful.
But on the other hand, smart phones will continue to improve, with enhanced touch-screen interfaces, a mainstreaming of features like built-in wireless hotspots, and longer battery life. I’m excited about this, because I now qualify for an upgrade every year.