Monday, December 29, 2014

Reviewing my predictions about 2014

Making New Year's resolutions is a practice that often seems minimally helpful. After articulating aspirational goals for the year, dedication to achieving those goals seems rather short-lived, e.g., indicative of well-intentioned commitments to get in better physical condition, gym memberships increase sharply in early January but gym visits return to normal levels by February.

Instead of making resolutions about personal improvement, I find it useful to think about what may happen in the year ahead (i.e., make some predictions – my next post) after examining the accuracy of my predictions about the current year.

My predictions for 2014, taken verbatim from my January 6, 2014, Ethical Musings' post, Predictions for 2014, are listed below in bold; the annotations indicate where I was right, wrong, etc.

Five predictions remained unchanged from prior years, which I had mostly right:

  • Iraq continues to be headed toward another dictatorship – it is not entirely evident if this has happened. A new prime minister eventually replaced Maliki, but Iraq is far from a real democracy.
  • Afghanistan will become increasingly dysfunctional, especially after the United States and NATO withdraw – this appears accurate, sadly, although the US and NATO withdrawal won't be complete until sometime after 2015
  • Global warming will become progressively worse (e.g., tides will rise, artic ice decrease, and violent storms increase in frequency and severity) – this has also, sadly, transpired
  • No major war will begin – thankfully, this one was right.
  • The world will not end – I also got this one right.

Seven other predictions were also right:

  • The U.S. economy, and European economies, will continue to improve, slowly clawing their way back from the recession of 2007-2008. The stock markets will have another good year, although not as strong as 2014 was.
  • The U.S. Congress will remain riven by partisanship but avoid a complete federal breakdown by reaching small compromises such as the one that resulted in their passing the first federal budget in years.
  • Digital media will continue to supplant other forms of media; more content will be free or low-cost, e.g., books will continue to migrate from paper to various electronic formats. People will rely more on cloud storage and less on storage that they own, signaling a continuing downward trend in personal computer purchases. Dissatisfaction with brief forms of communication (e.g., Twitter) will begin to develop as people seek richer, deeper relationships.
  • States will continue to liberalize drug laws, especially those outlawing marijuana. Similarly, opposition to other hot-button social issues (abortion, capital punishment, and same sex marriage) will continue to diminish. Opposition to gun control will be the most controversial exception to that generalization.
  • Generalized spirituality will continue to attract adherents from traditional religious groups that remain tied to legacy buildings, doctrines, and practices.
  • Trends toward healthy living (e.g., eating local, slow food, popularity of pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, healthier eating, etc.) will continue, although some unhealthy trends (e.g., working too many hours and sleeping too little) will also continue. Overall, the balance will shift toward healthier living.
  • Syrian President Assad will remain in power. U.S. efforts to broker a peace between Israel and the Palestinians will go nowhere, scuttled, if for no other reason, by Israel continuing to build settlements on disputed land.

These two predictions were only partially correct:

  • Roll out of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will continue to experience significant problems but foes will fail to muster the votes required for repeal. Instead, small changes will incrementally move the U.S. toward some form of nationalized healthcare, although the nation will not achieve that goal for years. Congress proved sufficiently dysfunctional to prevent enactment of even minor changes to the Affordable Care Act; despite much sentiment in favor of repeal, momentum is slowly growing to improve rather than to repeal the Act.
  • In the 2014 U.S. midterm elections, Republicans will keep control of the House of Representatives; Democrats will retain – barely – control of the Senate with the aid of independents and perhaps with the aid of the Vice President's vote. Republicans not only kept control of the House of Representatives but also took control of the Senate.

This prediction I got wrong:

  • And on a celebratory personal note, readership of Ethical Musings will grow by 50%, as it did in 2013! Ethical Musings' readership grew only 25%, which is not too shabby but not as good as in 2013.

My next post will offer predictions for 2015.

Best wishes for the New Year!

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