- Politics and Social Issues
A Review of 2011 and Predictions for 2012
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Evaluating My Prophetic Skills
I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that about a year ago, I predicted some things that I thought would happen in 2011. But unlike the so-called experts who make predictions for a living, I said that I would look back a year later to see how I did. Of course, if I were paid to be a prophet, I would probably do the same as the experts and only refer to my past predictions that actually came true. No one in his or her right mind - you would think - would pay someone who foretells the future no better than the average guy (like me) off of the street. But since I am still that guy off of the street, I feel free to admit how often I screwed up. Although, as you will see, I managed to get a few things right. (The link below will take you to that hub that I wrote a year ago.)
My predictions regarding religion, like many so-called religious prophecies, were relatively vague and obvious. I said that the world would not end, and unless I missed something, I got that one right. (And I will go out on a limb right now and predict that 2012 will not be “the year,” with all apologies to certain interpreters of the Mayan calendar.) Some old dude did manage to earn some press this past year with his repeated predictions, but he eventually admitted that he was just not that great of a prophet. We can now add his name to a long list of other crappy prophets, a list that is sure to grow with the apocalyptic freak show that will get plenty of press as December 21, 2012 draws closer.
I also predicted that some major religious figure would be caught in a sex scandal. And while I am sure that this happened on a small-scale throughout the United States, I am not aware of any big-time preacher or pastor falling into sin. (Unless, of course, you consider Herman Cain, the preacher of the gospel of “9-9-9,” to be a religious figure.) My other prediction, that Americans would remain as ignorant about religion now as they were a year ago, was a no-brainer. If you think that I am incorrect, just try engaging with people about religion on Facebook. Even a person with a minimal amount of religious literacy will quickly realize the extent to which many people believe intensely in theological systems that they know very little about.
On the domestic political front, I actually did pretty well. I predicted that President Obama’s political fortunes would be somewhat better at the end of 2011 than at the beginning, with approval ratings in the low ‘50s. He actually ended the year in the mid-40s, but with the recent positive economic signs, I expect that to go up slightly in the near future. Unemployment ended the year at 8.6% and the DOW at about 12,250, a little worse than my predicted 8.5% and 12,500 respectively. But as I write this on January 26, both unemployment and the DOW have improved since the beginning of the year, and are very close to my predicted numbers.
I was correct in predicting that Congress would pass almost nothing of substance this year, although that was a pretty easy one to see coming. The level of gridlock, however, with the debt-ceiling crisis, so-called “Supercommittee,” and all the rest of it, was even more intense than I expected. I also said that other states might follow Arizona’s lead on immigration, with Alabama stepping up to help make my prophecy came true. Sarah Palin, as predicted, did not run for president, with Michelle Bachman filling in as the angry, female, fundamentalist in the Republican campaign. Palin was content to ride around in her American flag / Constitution draped bus and share her particular version of American history. Finally, I predicted that the Supreme Court would strike down the health care mandate in the new reform bill. This case, however, has not been decided yet, but the Supreme Court will take it up soon. So I still expect that part of the bill to be struck down when the case is finally heard.
So what may be coming in 2012? Here is a quick list of possibilities:
1) Mitt Romney will squeak by Newt Gingrich and win the Republican nomination. He will then lose to President Obama in a close election. The Democrats will make slight gains in the House, but Republicans will retain control. The Senate will remain more or less unchanged in terms of partisan majority.
2) More games of chicken will be played with the Debt Ceiling and scheduled increase in payroll taxes. Short-term deals that expire at the end of the year will eventually be made to “resolve” them.
3) A third-party candidate will gain 8% of the popular vote for President.
4) In spite of the continuing mess in Europe and high oil prices, the economy will steadily improve, with unemployment down to 7.5% and the DOW at 13,200 at the end of the year. Inflation, however, will start to be a significant concern by the end of the year, and the FED will have to consider the possibility of raising interest rates in early 2013.
On the Middle Eastern /South Asian front, I made some predictions that were more or less accurate. The Iranian nuclear program continues, Afghanistan remains a political mess, and the Israeli / Palestinian conflict remains unchanged. What were significant here were the things that I did not see coming. I failed to foresee that little “Arab Spring” thingy. I also failed to predict that Bin Laden would be killed watching TV in a Pakistani compound. Man, I might have a shot at world fame by now if I would have hit those little events on the nose.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any prophetic bombshells to drop about events in this part of the world in 2012. I suspect that it will be more of the same. The Syrian government will still be holding on at the end of the year, with the death toll close to 10,000. (Protestors, however, will increasingly begin to take up arms.) Libya and Egypt will struggle to create real democratic governments that can provide social order. Yemen will, by the end of the year, undergo a transition similar to Egypt, but the political situation will begin to resemble Afghanistan more than a unified state. The American troop presence will be slightly lower in Afghanistan by the end of the year, with drone strikes continuing across the border in Pakistan.
Instead of seeing the “Arab Spring” coming, I predicted that we would see civil unrest in China. So far, however, mass chaos in China has failed to materialize. But mark my words; it is coming. There are already signs that the Chinese economy will slow down a bit this coming year, and their real estate market is poised for a crash. But in the end, the massive level of economic inequality in that nation will be the primary factor in causing a crisis to erupt. I would not be surprised if we start to see this by the end of the year.
At the beginning of the year, North Korea was engaged in one of its periodic, provocative actions by shelling a South Korean island. I predicted that this would not turn into a major conflict, and that has held true. But with the recent death of the “Dear Leader,” expect to see North Korea make some periodic trouble this year. It’s the regime’s fallback plan when they see some sort of domestic unrest coming.
Finally, Greece will default in some form on its debts this year. The European Union, however, will pull it together enough to stop Spain, Portugal, and Italy from following them. It will be a tough year for Europe in general, however, a fact that will keep the United States from growing at a faster pace.
I predicted that I would watch less sports this year than ever before. This, other than the Lakers’ failure to repeat as champions, was my only correct sports prediction. About halfway through the year, our TV died, and this triggered an experiment to see if we could live without some form of cable TV. But with internet streaming as our only TV source, I could no longer watch sports even if I wanted to. Truth be told, I haven’t missed it much. So due to my increasing level of sports ignorance, I will refrain from any predictions, with one exception. This year, the Clippers will end the season with a better record than the Lakers, and they will also go further in the playoffs.
On the personal front, most of my predictions were basically correct. This should not be surprising given the fact that I am my favorite subject. I did finish the Harry Potter series. (My daughter, so far, has read the entire series four times.) I am still a part-time teacher, and at the moment, it looks like I will continue to be teaching into the foreseeable future. In spite of California’s budget cuts, I taught two classes last summer and seven classes in the fall (at four different schools). I am down to five classes for this spring, which is actually closer to the number that I prefer. With my wife starting to earn some income again, I hope to teach at this slowed-down pace for years to come.
I also predicted that I would go to Disneyland at least seven times, and I think that I fulfilled that goal. At the end of the year, however, our family shifted our amusement park allegiance to a lesser-known place called “Knott’s Berry Farm.” It is not quite Disneyland, but at 1/3 the price for an annual pass and 1/10 the crowds, I don’t mind taking a little Disney break for a year. (I’ve already gone to Knott’s four times in just January.) Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will have coaxed my kids into going on every ride in the place, even the super tall ones.
I also predicted that I would write 100 hubs in 2012, but I think that I fell short of that mark. About halfway through the year, I came up with an idea for how I could compile my various essays into a book. So instead of investing my writing time into a new article every few days, much of my effort was focused on the book. And about a week ago, as some of you may already know, I was finally able to get it published. It is on sale now (at an online retailer – Amazon – near you.) By the end of the year, I hope to be so encouraged by this book’s sales that I will embark on a second book project. I already have much of it planned out and more or less written, but I will leave you in suspense until next year.
And finally, the bald spot on top of my head has probably grown (as predicted.) But since I shave my head almost to the bone, it is not visible most of the time. And since I have been spoiled by the joy of not needing a hairbrush, I plan on continuing to have a slightly fuzzy dome into the distant future.
So have a great year everybody. Hopefully, we will all be here next year (after December 21st) to see if I have improved as a prophet. But based on my past record, I would not make any financial decisions based on what you have read here. However, if you wish to unload (for free) some of your valuable possessions in lieu of the impending apocalypse, I am just a Hubpages comment or Facebook post away.