It’s that time of year when resolutions and prognostications abound. My favorite saying applied to New Year’s resolutions is in saying they’re basically a bunch of promises to break the first week of January. And while I won’t predict a whole lot, I can pretty much accurately nail a few things that without question will make the news. You will see these are pretty, well, predictable:
- Prediction one: There will be some sort of weather event, natural disaster or heinous occurrence where someone will be interviewed and say the following: “I’ve never seen anything like that in my lifetime.” It’s as if this person is a required attendee at every news reporting event. While I understand most people’s perspective can indeed be limited by, or contained within, their own personal experiences, it is too much to ask to consult some historical perspective before saying such a thing? Yes, this response can apply to some events. But when it comes to weather and natural disasters, I’m pretty sure this is simply history repeating itself. Same as it has for millions and millions of years. More important, the planet made it! What didn’t were certain species. How’s that for perspective?
- Prediction two: When it comes to a crime or something that occurs between humans, the other required attendee at all news reporting events is the person who says this: “They we’re just the nicest people, and in no way did I see something like this coming.” Exactly. No one does most of the time when it comes to neighbors and acquaintances. People should be surprised at what goes on from time to time in their neighborhoods, towns and with people they know because people are good. And for the times that they shouldn’t be shocked — like with politicians, repeat offenders and terrorists — where’s the interview that says, “This doesn’t surprise me in the least.”
- Prediction three: Something good will happen economically, and the government will take credit for it. The most recent example is gas prices, where people ask me why I won’t credit the president for low gas prices. My answer is simple: Government never makes the price of something go down and simply takes credit for good news. Gas pricing is subject to many global factors. Now there are government answers to addressing some of them to keep prices stable for Americans, but our government has none of them in place. The only things it has in place in the long run always hurt consumers. Another fact is that unemployment reaches a certain level based on the economy. And while the government might brag the number is low, it’s more than likely the government did something to cause that number being low — and not in a good way. Conversely, when business picks up, it’s because the people who need to buy widgets who were not buying widgets because the economy was contracting due to natural (or unnatural, government caused) reasons, decided we better buy some widgets. The government had nothing to do with this.
- Prediction four: In keeping with things the government does, I predict the government will manipulate the numbers to make the claim the economy is getting better because of how hard it is working to help all of us “working Americans.” Now you might say, “Craig, you always say this about President Obama because you don’t like him.” You’re right in a sense. I don’t know the man, but what I know of him and his thinking, I don’t like it or him one iota. Before you go off, however, I didn’t like President Bush and his bailouts, stimulus and his abandoning the free market to save the free market. And I don’t know him either. What the government does, and the only thing it can do, is hurt the economy. Unless it does nothing or put criminals in jail instead of partnering with them, nothing the government does will help. Always look at it this way, whatever the government says it is doing, whatever the name of the law it is passing, or whatever the name or goal of the bureaucracy it is presenting to the people, expect the polar opposite to occur.
I guess what I’m saying is that perhaps it’s time to get out of our own perspective. There’s plenty of history books and historical research out there to begin to understand that all of this has happened before. And it will again, whether the topic is people or government.
The best recommendation is to find some books or try that whole Google thing. There’s a lot of information on the Great Depression. The truth is it wasn’t even a good one until the government got involved. There’s also plenty of research on the medieval warm period when the planet was much warmer than today with a whole lot less people (and warmer well before man was here at all). And yep, people have been killing other surprised people since history was first written.
Maybe some research will help stop all of these trends. Otherwise, we’ll be saying we’ve never seen anything like it in our lives. And not in a good way.