What will Happen in 2011?
My last hub was a quick overview of 2010, speculating about what future historians will remember about this past year. Now, I will attempt to predict what will be happening in our new year. But I must start by making one thing clear: I am not a psychic. Palms, stars, tarot cards, and oracle bones say absolutely nothing to me. I also have no special training in the field of futurism. I can predict with some certainty, however, that my predictions will be no more or less accurate than the so-called experts. But unlike many of the experts, I promise to hold myself accountable one year from now by writing a hub in which I evaluate the accuracy of the following.
1)The world will not come to an end in an apocalyptic event. This is a pretty safe prediction. After thousands of years of people claiming that the end times are here, you would think that these predictions would no longer be taken seriously. Of course, gullible people who want the world to end will still be out there, and I will hopefully be here one year from now pointing out that they were wrong once again. Then, of course, the “prophecies” will continue, with 2012 being a particularly fruitful year for end of the world anticipation.
2) An important religious leader will be caught in some sort of a sex scandal. This is a bit of a no-brainer.
3) The same number of people in the United States will claim to believe in God and go to church at the end of 2011 as at the beginning. Their general ignorance about all things theological will also be unchanged
Domestic American Politics
1) President Obama’s approval ratings will end the year slightly higher than they are now, most likely in the low 50’s. This will primarily be due to some improvement in the economy, with unemployment dropping to about 8.5 % by the end of the year and the Dow ending at about 12,500. Also, he will be helped by the Republican resurgence in the November midterms. Republicans can no longer sit back and blame him for everything, and his natural inclination toward compromise will help him with some voters.
2) Nothing of substance will be passed regarding the issues of immigration, climate change, and Social Security reform. Divisions between Republicans and Democrats are too wide on these issues, and both sides will be too busy positioning themselves for the 2012 elections to touch these hot button, complex topics. On immigration, however, we may see a few states following the lead of Arizona
3) Sarah Palin will not announce that she is running for President. This is assuming that she is intelligent enough to realize that she cannot win a general election. She will instead make plenty of money by publishing another book, giving speeches, and doing “analysis” on Fox News. She may even find the time to take down a moose or two and try to outperform her daughter on “Dancing With the Stars.”
4) The provision of the new health care bill that mandates the purchase of insurance will be struck down in the Supreme Court. The rest of the bill will essentially stay intact, although the Republican controlled House will pass some sort of an alternative measure that has no chance of making it through the Senate. Insurance rates will continue to go up, with some claiming that this is the direct result of the new law. Others will claim that insurance companies are simply raising rates as they always do and using the reform measure as an excuse. Both will be somewhat correct, and the health care bill will be a big issue in the 2012 elections.
1) There will not be another Korean War. North Korea has a history of doing provocative things when their regime is facing political difficulties, and at the moment, they are preparing for only the second transfer of power in their nation’s history. They seem to think that stirring up a crisis is the best technique for maintaining political control of the population, and they also know that the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea have no desire to see a major war on the Korean peninsula. So we may see more actions like the recent shelling of a South Korean island. These provocative actions will be small enough, however, to avoid full-scale war.
2) Troop levels in Afghanistan will only be slightly reduced. Since President Obama promised to start drawing down troops this summer, a token reduction will occur. Afghanistan, however, will be no closer to having a functioning central government by then, and a large presence of American forces will be necessary to maintain some degree of security. Drone attacks across the border in Pakistan will continue
3) Some new disease or contaminated food scare will create an international panic. What will be this year’s Mad Cow Disease, SARS, West Nile Virus, or Swine Flu? Only time will tell.
4) China will face some sort of a domestic crisis. Ongoing problems – environmental destruction, poor work conditions, low quality products, provincial government corruption, a large gap between the rich and the poor – will come to a head in some form this year. The amazing level of economic growth over the past several years has kept these problems more or less in check, but it cannot last forever.
5) Iran will be closer to getting a nuclear weapon, and Israel will take increasingly aggressive actions to stop them. So far, their actions have been somewhat covert, but if assassinations of Iranian officials and cyber attacks are no longer effective enough, we could see some sort of a military strike this year. Let’s call it a 50/50 possibility.
6) The Israeli / Palestinian conflict will not be resolved. I will be writing about this more soon, but to make a long story short, I cannot picture a deal that enough people on both sides will find acceptable.
1) The Lakers will not win the NBA championship. They seem to be a bit worn down after three straight trips to the NBA finals. Also, after two straight championships, the motivation might not quite be there. In the end, it will probably come down to which of the best teams has the least injuries come playoff time. I predict a San Antonio / Miami final, with Boston having at least one of their big three injured. But if Boston goes in healthy, I think they will come out on top, defeating San Antonio in six. If Boston has injury issues, look for San Antonio in six.
2) Tiger Woods will win one of the four major championships. Many say that he is washed up, but as he adjusts to his new role as the latest athlete seeking forgiveness, I think that he will rediscover some of his game. If Michael Vick could come back, then there is still hope for Tiger. Of course, Americans are often more forgiving toward those who promote violence than those who sleep around.
3) Neither the Saints nor the Giants will repeat as champions. New England will win the upcoming Super Bowl, and I do not care enough about baseball to have any clue about the World Series result.
4) I will watch sports less often on TV this year than ever before.
1) I will publish at least 100 hubs in 2011, and each will earn me tens of cents in unpaid Adsense revenue. I will also branch out a bit, writing reviews of products and places that I know well, historical reviews of Hollywood movies, and maybe even some “how-to” articles.
2) I will still be teaching part-time. Full-time positions for community college instructors are hard to come by these days. This is particularly true in California, land of the perpetual budget crisis. More cuts are coming, so will be lucky to get five classes – the amount that I have scheduled for spring – in the upcoming fall semester. Of course, I thought the same thing last year, and I ended up with seven in the fall. Go figure.
3) My daughter and I will finish the “Harry Potter” series. At the time of this writing, she has almost finished book four, and she has about a 150-page lead on me. It’s been great reading something purely for fun for a change, and it’s even more enjoyable sharing the experience with my daughter. I can see why this series has been so amazingly popular. J.K. Rowling is a fantastic storyteller.
4) The bald spot on top of my head will grow slightly larger. I will continue to counteract this trend, however, by shaving my head about once a month. If you cannot defeat baldness, then you might as well go with it.
5) I will go to Disneyland with my kids at least seven times. Before I know it, my kids will be teenagers who do not want to be caught dead with me in public. So while they are still young, I will milk our annual pass for all it’s got.
6) I will be playing with my kids’ “Wii” less at the end of 2011 than I am now. Like all things electronic, our family has joined the “Wii” generation a little late. I have quickly become pretty damn good, however, at tennis and ping pong, and I was burying three-pointers like nobody’s business on “Wii Sports Resort.” My golf game can still use some work. (Maybe Tiger and I could get together and fine-tune our skills.) Eventually, however, like all video game systems and toys in general, the “Wii” will get a little old, and it will be time to move on to the next big thing, whatever the heck that is.