Our little cat, Kicka, all bundled up, is lying semi-conscious and half-paralyzed on top of Joanna, who in turn fell asleep on a sofa. So I have time to reflect on this year and dream about the next one. Recently, I was asked to predict the most important events in 2011, and found it impossible. Instead, I have attempted to be wildly optimistic and skip the usual "peak-everything" stuff. Here is the result:
The Happy New Year 2011 will see a thorough public discussion of what needs to be done to make the U.S. a more resilient society and economy. Federal government, Congress and Senate will start working together on the development of a massive national electrified railroad system to transport goods and people. We will come off the high horse and stop hallucinating about building bullet train tracks in a railroad system that is decidedly mid-twentieth century or older. Many cities across the U.S., will embark on the crash investment in light rail and other alternatives to cars.
Subsidies for corn, soybean, wheat and rice will be repealed and replaced with a thoughtful program of developing a robust, distributed system to produce a wide variety of healthy whole foods for all. The administration and Congress will wake up to the fact that an unhealthy, obese and generally uneducated population will require an insanely expensive health care system that will fail if the root causes of poor health are not eliminated.
Our schools will hire science teachers, who will live the practice and theory of science, not merely the theory of teaching and testing. Many families across the U.S. will dump game stations, idiotic TV, and I-phones in exchange for conversations and books. Neighborhoods will again become centers of civic activity and common thinking.
We will occasionally stop and talk to the homeless, instead of giving them a dollar or a dirty look. Economists will discover that the Earth is spherical and finite, not an infinite mathematical plane with the infinitely substitutable resources. Those of us who have animals and children will pet both and smile. Republicans will occasionally talk to the rest of us, and we will respond with kindness.
I admit that undue optimism has gotten the better of me. Most of what I dreamed about is utterly impossible to achieve in this currently confused and divided U.S. of A., whose only national priority seems to be more airport body scanners or more thorough pat-downs of our crotches.