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My 10 Predictions for 2011

| January 9, 2011

At least they had imagination.

As I warned last week in the first part of this exercise, it’s time to get a little stupid and make a 10 predictions for the year. WNZF radio asked that I do that last year. I obliged. The results were, to my surprise and disappointment, more accurate than not. I got seven or so of my predictions right: that monstrosity inaccurately called health care reform did pass, job creation stalled, oil is back within reach of $100 a barrel, Afghanistan is still the graveyard of American illusions, John Paul Stevens did retire from the Supreme Court, and I was, happily, fired from the News-Journal.

The two halves that I got wrong were the prediction that there’d be another terrorist attack on US soil: there almost was one, if you count that shoddy Times Square job. The other half was the Democrats holding on to both chambers of Congress. They held on to only one, though since the majority of Americans don’t know their civics and think we have a unicameral system where perceptions rule anyway—the perception being that Democrats are such duds that Republicans have them by the 2012s—I may have gotten that one entirely wrong. I also got wrong the one about the Iranian regime losing power and Palestinians rising up in a third uprising, though both of those are a matter of time. I doubt Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or his octogenarian babysitter and so-called “supreme leader,” Ali Khamenei, have the staying power or the smarts of Fidel Castro who, incidentally, will in a surprising move of his own decide to kick off this year. That’s not one of the ten predictions though. It’s a freebie to those in South Florida who still think praying has more validity than pachinko.

Onto this year.

The Live Column

1.      President Obama will find his groove back and creep back above the 50 percent approval rating. That won’t be entirely his doing, though he’s at 48 percent now. Divided government makes it easier for people to divide their criticism. Republicans, back in power in the House of Representatives, will claim their share of that criticism, especially as this won’t be a year of great accomplishments: the GOP will be effective at getting nothing done, including sending one bill after another to the Senate knowing the bills will get shot down.

2.      The economic recovery will be anemic and deceptive. GDP will improve, unemployment will fall (but more steeply elsewhere than in Flagler) and corporate profits will rise again, as they did in 2010. Wall Street will call it a recovery. The Obama administration will call it a recovery. Most people won’t feel it in their wallets and their homes, especially in places like Palm Coast, where one-sixth of homes are empty and most others are under water. We not only have divided government. We have a divided economy. American companies are doing better because they’re benefiting from jobs outsourced to other countries, from tighter labor standards at home and from another surge in productivity, thanks to squeezing still more out of smaller workforces (and in all 24 time zones). So corporate profits hit a record in the last quarter, but Americans’ median income, stagnating or declining since the end of the Clinton administration, will decline again this year, just as poverty will rise again from its record level seen last year: we will cross that 50 million threshold, if we haven’t already, as one-sixth of Americans will be in poverty.

Pierre Discusses the Predictions on WNZF’s Free For All Fridays with Patrick Kelly
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3.      Several State and local governments will collapse financially. Just as American homeowners are under water, so are a majority of states, Florida among them. Florida faces a $3.5 billion deficit. Overall state revenues fell 30 percent between 2008 and 2009. Some 46 states raised taxes to close combined gaps of $130 billion in 2010. The 2011 gap is $113 billion. This time, states will have to close the gap without federal aid. Cities and the county in Flagler will have trouble as well as valuations again drop by more than 10 percent.

4.      Locally, economic development follies will continue, with more talk than accomplishments. The county thinks it can get Palm Coast to sign on to a county-wide economic development approach. The county is delusional, especially since its best offer is to do so under the banner of the eternal rerun known as Enterprise Flagler. Palm Coast is increasingly treating the county like a buzzing fly. It’ll pay it lip service. It’ll attend a few meetings. But Jim Landon, whose compensation package alone is more than the county has to spend on economic development, isn’t about to turn over his own economic development fiefdom to anything with the county’s imprint on it. And we won’t see much difference where it counts—local, high-paying jobs. As a side-note, Palm Coast Data, still hemorrhaging jobs, accounts and revenue, will not meet its required 700-new-job benchmark by December 2011, and will have to reimburse the state  up to $3 million in incentive it already took in. Palm Coast Data’s future is seriously in doubt.

5.      Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts will lose. That’s a shame. He’s been in office a decade. The Palm Coast Observer has it right: he is one of the smartest local politicians, although on the Palm Coast City Council he doesn’t have much competition. He is a councilman of one. Frank Meeker tries, but he hasn’t yet learned to stand his ground when the city manager treats him like a buzzing fly. And the remaining members of the council are as amiable as can be, but they’re figureheads, not city council members, and they let their age show more than their vigor, something Netts hasn’t yet had to worry about. Netts had been very effective as the thinking man’s politician. For some reason he’s decided to wed his fortune to Jim Landon’s plan to build a new, $10 million city hall. Netts knows it’s “political suicide” (Netts’ words). Worse: The perception of Landon as a bully has become Palm Coast’s. Netts is Palm Coast. He’s no bully. But he’s letting his reputation be tarnished  by handing Landon a blank check. Ceremonial situations aside, Netts and Landon have both been forgetting who the real mayor is. It won’t help that Palm Coast will have to raise taxes this year, unless Landon forages a new set of smoke and mirrors—which is entirely possible when he has the city’s water utility, a stealth tax, to play with. Finally, Netts’ moderation and principles will make him even more vulnerable to the more radical vultures out there ready to pounce. Pragmatic moderates with brains like Netts are not in demand in politics these days.

6.      The Roberts court will rule 5-4 against required health insurance for all. The key vote here will be Justice Anthony Kennedy, and it’ll be a very close one for him because in social matters, he reads up on European law, and European law would have him siding with the four center-right judges on this one (as opposed to the four reactionaries: there are no liberals on the U.S. Supreme Court). But he and Roberts will arm-wrestle a little, Roberts may even let him write the majority opinion, such as it will be (expect a fractured plurality rather than a majority) and that’ll be that. The decision will take its place alongside Bush v. Gore and D.C. v. Heller (the Second Amendment as an individual right decision) as supreme judicial overreach and Houdini reasoning. But the Obama administration will deserve it. The mandatory imposition should have never replaced what could have avoided the entire fiasco: extending Medicare for all. That would have never led to a constitutional challenge, nor unleashed a plague of ideological imbecility to demolish what should have been the single-most important improvement in Americans’ medical safeguards since Medicare (itself the best single-payer system this country has ever known).

7.      The seventh Arab-Israeli war will take place. It’s not clear where: there are so many fronts. Hezbollah in Lebanon, now armed with 50,00 missiles, and Israel, still showered with more U.S. weaponry than it knows what to do with ($3 billion a year and counting) are looking for a rematch. Israel is always looking to pounce on Gaza. The possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran is high (yes yes, Iran is not an Arab state, but you get the idea), though Israel has been doing a fairly good job of conducting a war of attrition by assassination on Iranian nuclear scientists. Helped by Hillary Clinton’s MIA act, the Obama administration has been pathetic in its Mideastern policy, from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to Pakistan, which is its new Cambodia. I’d say the results are well deserved, but nobody’s murder in pointless wars is ever deserved, whatever the circumstances.

8.      Pakistan Will Return to Military Dictatorship. Pakistan, more dangerous than Iran by far, has been on the verge of failing for years. It is still nominally democratic. It won’t be after this year. The presidency of the staggeringly corrupt Asif Ali Zardari is running on fumes. The assassination of the moderate governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, is a reminder that in Pakistan as in Palm Coast, the voices of reason and moderation are under siege. This is a nuclear-tipped country where the Pakistani Taliban is unbowed despite the Obama administration’s stepped up secret war by drones. The result will be another military dictatorship. Nothing new for Pakistan, but once again, the end of American illusions that the war on terror has anything to do with democracy, let alone freedom, and everything to do with maintaining American hegemony. The corollary to that is the continuing paralysis in Afghanistan, where nothing will be gained and American casualties, 499 in 2010 (compared with 317 the year before) will again hit a record.

9.      An Embarrassment of 9/11 Commemorations. This is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Commemorations will be gaudy, excessive and embarrassing. We’ve learned nothing. There’ll be over-the-top displays of patriotism and nationalism that’ll drown out the fact that after 10 years, we are more paranoid, more scared, more cowardly and less free in this surveillance-and-junk-touching society than we were before the attacks. Just last week the sheriff was asking the local county commission for $13,000 to pay for a mobile video surveillance van. No one objected. That’s what we’ve come to: accepting the mechanics of the police state under the guise of security. Thank you, war on terror, now indistinguishable from a war on Americans by our own national, state and local security industrial complex. Bin Laden couldn’t have asked for a more obliging ally.

10.  Israeli novelist David Grossman will win the Nobel Prize for literature. Grossman has been writing great novels for years, and Israel has been producing great writers for decades. Grossman’s To the End of the Land will clinch it for him. The novel manages to be at once apolitical and a swearing indictment of the politics of permanent war that have imprisoned Israelis and Arabs for more than half a century. But it’s Grossman’s works as a whole that win him the prize: despite losing his son—an Israeli soldier in a tank battalion—in the very last hours of the 2006 war (the sixth and particularly futile Arab-Israeli war), Grossman’s voice of humane compassion and anguished hope has never wavered. Every mother who’s lost a son to war—Jewish, Palestinian, Arab, Pashto, Persian—would recognize herself in Ora’s story in To the End of the Land. Grossman is  an artist of the Israeli and Arab soul, that soul so far buried in the follies and fanaticism of lesser men on both sides.

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18 Responses for “My 10 Predictions for 2011”

  1. Charlie Ericksen Jr says:

    You are right about the Utility Fund and it’s charges to the City residents, as being a “stealth tax”. Back in 2002, when Palm Coast purchased the utility, it did so for 2 reasons: those being, quality of the water and residents not having to pay the “profit” portion of a utility bill, received by a stockholder company. This suggests strongly that , the City wanted to provide water and sewer at on a cost basis . Right now, we are charged both an additional basic monthly fee for water and sewer, and an additional charge, for waste water, at the same volume as water consumed. These are additional taxes, by whatever name you want to call them. If you read the weekly reports provided to the City manager,from the utility dept. only 70% of the consumed/billed water, is returned to the waste water plants. Thus we are over charged 30% on that service. Bottom line, the “City with one of the lowest tax rates in the State” which we frequently hear from the Mayor, adds about $250-$300./year/household in hidden taxes. The present mayor, was part of that Council that made the purchase..In the Citys proposal to build a new City Hall, they did mention that over $1 million will come from the profit on Utility service . Plus, let’s not forget, that over $10 million from the Utility Fund was used to build to Walmarts specifications, the lower portion of Old KingsRoad. Maybe someday, they will build the building, but we are far down the list. But I’m glad, you were wrong about the predicted attack on the USA last year, but they did try, and unfortunately will try again. The enemy is within us and is both planning and testing daily its thrust.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      And let’s not forget, Charlie, that terrorism is far from an Islamist monopoly. Exhibit A for this young year: Tucson, Arizona, and the inevitable consequences of reactionaries’ politics of hate. As Clarence Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, put it so succinctly on Saturday, Arizona has become “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” We’re not far behind, considering that Florida is now taking its legislative cues from that mecca’s white-powered Wahhabis.

  2. DLF says:

    Number 1, where do you get Obama is at 48% approval rating? Who cares what his rating is when 9-12 % of the American people are out of work. Number 2, it did not take a lot of brain power to figure that one out, the current crew of crooks in Washington, both sides, do not want it to improve because they can’t blame each other for the mess it is in. Number 3 is right on target, thanks to the big unions and Obama keeping most of his promises to the union to get their votes in 2012. Number 4 is the same as number 2. Number 5 should happen for all the right reasons, good liberal call.The rest are not a concern for most Americans who are trying to find work, keep their houses and paying the high tax rates to keep the rest of America going.. You forgot to mention that Fidel or his brother did take steps to reduce goverment spending and overall size by reducing the people working in mindless jobs, maybe Obama could learn something there. I question your comment on the attack on America would have happened if not for the shoddy job, could you explain what you are trying to say there? I would not be patting my self on the back with your last year results, most were all pretty much no brainers, except the part about you getting fired. Still the sour grapes coming back , get over it, you have moved on and so as the NJ, maybe in seperate directions.

  3. Kyle Russell says:

    DLF, you do realize that Obama “keeping promises to the unions” wouldn’t effect STATE government unions. If you actually look at the budget deficits in the states, the big problem is the legislation that states put in place during the “good times”. Their costs remain the same, but because of the recession property values, purchases, and incomes have fallen, decreasing revenues.

  4. DLF says:

    Kyle:who do you think picks up the increase in labor costs, you and I thats who. I could spend that money on boosting the job demands instead of lining someone’s pockets for doing nothing, or nothing that adds ti the GNP of the USA. My point being the reason some of the states are going broke is because of the big promises made to the union. The average goverment worker makes twice the earnings of someone working in private sector, not counting retirement and health care for life, thats to the tune of a total average pay of about $124,000, did you make that when you were/or now working?.

  5. Gervais says:

    The paper (dated January 5, 2001) by Rutgers University professor Jeffrey Keefe found:

    Private-sector workers earned average annual wages of $55,132, $6,061 greater than the $49,072 earned by public-sector workers. When looking at total compensation including employer-provided benefits, this gap narrowed but the private-sector workers still earned $2,001 more per year than public sector workers ($71,109 in total compensation, versus $69,108). This gap was especially large among more educated workers. College-educated workers on averages earned $22,966 less in total compensation.

  6. Kyle Russell says:

    2 things: First, as we’re talking about state governments, your figure is off by about $50,000. State workers make, on average, about $8,000 more than their private sector counterparts. Second, government employees are generally more experienced/educated than in the private sector. This education obviously brings with it a commensurate raise in earnings.

    If you look at 50 years ago, during the times of unionization and higher marginal taxes, the difference between benefits and pay between the public and private sectors was not as large. Why? Because things were more more even – the ratio of employee to executive may was much lower, and the middle class obtained a much larger share of the nation’s income. So is the problem government unions, or lack of private sector ones? Food for thought.

  7. Liana G says:

    Thank you Kyle Russell – I will go with ‘lack of private sector ones”.

    America is ranked #9 out of the the 10 most politically corrupt countries. And where there is corrupt gov’t, there’s need for strong unions – since elites control gov’t. Unions are not perfect, but I’m interested in what our government is doing to us versus what unions are doing for their members. The way I see it, though union members are faring better than us non union members, they are no way faring better than this country’s elites/politicians, who are the ones sticking it to us. So let’s lay off the unions and focus on the real culprits. Going after unions is just another ploy by these culprits to us to keep us distracted. Don’t fall for it folks!

  8. DLF says:

    Kyle: you are forgetting the fringe bennies, 70-80% of their pay when they retire, some of the best medical coverage in the USA, if the state worker is makinging $60,000 – $75,000 tack on another 40% in fringe bennies, the private sector worker is not receiving that kind of retirement program. As far as edication I guess I would question that when I hear the stories of people trying to get their driving permits, social security workers not knowing the needed information, and of course the fine job our social workers are doing in handing out all the entitlement monies. The bottom lime is the goverment does nothing to add to the GNP, they produce nothing and do a great job of spending our money. We cannot afford this kind of burden on the tax payer anymore.

  9. Gervais says:

    DLF: You can’t argue the facts, the study by Rutgers University professor Jeffrey Keefe and the links to the two newspaper articles prove you are wrong!

    You are also wrong on government spending. The response to the private-sector failures and profligacy that had caused the global economic crisis was to demand public-sector austerity. While China has kept its economy going by making investments in education, technology, and infrastructure, Europe and America have been cutting back. The consequence will almost surely be a slower recovery and an even longer delay before unemployment falls to acceptable levels.

  10. DLF says:

    Pierre: reference shooting in ARZ, would you care to rehash the shooting at Fort Hood and who we can blame that one on,my bet is you want to steer away from that one.

    Here we go with the name calling the blaming without any actual facts, this is what got us into this problem in the first place. No fluff plenty of bull and lots of smudge when it fits your causes news reporting.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Not at all DLF. No steering away. The blame for that one is squarely on Nidal Hasan, with vague inspiration from his twisted beyonds, just as the blame for the Tuscon shooting is squarely on Loughner, with equally vague inspiration from his equally twisted beyonds, though I don’t classify the Fort Hood shooting as terrorism: the targets were military. Loughner’s act falls under the definition of terrorism. But your comment is a bit puzzling. Are you suggesting that whatever the reasons for the Fort Hood shooting, its folly somehow mitigates that of the Tucson shooting? That because we have nutsoids with Islamist fanaticism running through their veins, then white, Pledge-to-the-Flag reciting nutsoids with right-wing fanaticism running through their veins are somehow of a lesser USDA grade? (Kyle addressed the nature of the second part of your comment elsewhere so I won’t be redundant, though your lack of specifics and incorrect fixation on “namecalling” is tiresome. Quick tip: namecalling applies to insults leveled at at another person directly. If I were to call you a buggering old fool–which I’m not; heavens, no–that would be namecalling, although to be absolutely precise in this context it would still not be namecalling, quite: you cannot namecall a set of anonymous initials, and sign-ons are not representatives of individuals; they’re alphabetical avatars usually, as in the present case, designed to protect the cowardly, the hypocrites, the philistines, and so on. You get the idea, I’m sure. Criticizing or bitching about about Democrats or reactionaries or anonymous prigs or language manglers as a group is just that: criticism. And I don’t quite recall, even in those contexts, using the kind of language that would make Smitty sleep better at night.)

  11. David L Frank DLF says:

    For the record my initials stand for my name, the same way I sign paperwork at Flagler Hospital, “initial here” You still did not address the shooting at Fort Hood, by saying it was a military attack shows your one sided reasoning. I know and you know why you will not address it but continue to hide behind some ill informed reason. To blame Nidal Hasan for that shooting is like placing the blame on the airlines for 9-11. If and when there is a trial the real reason will come out and then you will be faced with the truth. You keep making reference to the “white” so and so being the cause of all the problems. Was the Fort Hood shooter white, were the pilots of 9-11 white? Should I go on,refresh my memory .

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Good deal David. I hope you stick with the full identification. I’m not sure what you mean by what it is that I will not address. By all means tell me, though not blaming Nidal is a new one. And I did not say the Fort Hood attack was a military attack, but a military target.

  12. DLF – so by your rationale and logic, the Fort Hood is not to be blamed on the perpetrator alone, yet, the AZ case to you is a cut and dry loner with no influences situation. Interesting, to say the least.

  13. Kyle Russell says:

    DLF – When I post a link as part of an argument, go to the link before responding. If you actually read, you would see that no, the Social Security workers aren’t the expensive workers – going down the list, I see broadcast technician, budget analyst, chemist, civil engineer, information systems manager, economist, electrical engineer, financial analyst, mechanical engineer, and statistician among the job titles making anywhere near the money you’re complaining about. Considering the work those people are doing, I would hope that they would have more education than their counterparts in the private sector, as the information they produce is what the market uses to make predictions and the research moves science forward time and again.

  14. NortonSmitty says:

    DLF, or David, Thanks for having the courage to post your name, and this is without any snarkyness whatsoever. It shows a level of commitment to your beliefs that was never fully confirmed to those of us who read your posts. Standing behind your beliefs by putting your name on them shows us all that you are committed to the opinions that you post. This is after all the only thing those who read your posts know of you. Congratulations.

    Having said that, will you open up and tell us where this deep seated hatred of Unions comes from? This has been the core of almost every post I have ever read from you since day one. Why this hatred for the laborers of this country banding together to collectively use the little leverage they have to try to negotiate their compensation for their efforts against uber-powerful mostly international corporations? We know they would pay Americans the same fish head and cup of rice wages they get away with paying 9 year olds to sew Nike T-shirts in Sri Lanka if they could. Weren’t your parents and Grandparents given a better life by the rising wages driven upward by organiszed labor after WWII?

    In Pittsburgh where I grew up, the standing joke was the Steelworkers and Miners were going to work so hard their children would live well enough to become Republicans. It seemed funnier then than it does in today’s’ labor market. I see you work for a Hospital. You do know that hospitals are about the most profitable business entity in the country today, way more than double the average return on investment across the whole investment spectrum. Yet they consistently fight tooth and nail to limit wages paid to Nurses, Orderlies, Maintenance workers, even Doctors to make sure all of these enormous profits go only to the owners and stockholders, with some shared with upper management to keep the wheels greased.

    So I’m guessing that your job is in management at the hospital. Maybe you get bonuses for suppressing wages and preventing a collective bargaining agreement for the lower proles. I hope so, because this would explain your comments and vitriol displayed in these posts. Just a healthy self interest at the expense of others. You are profiting from lowering the standard of living of your co-workers. That greed would explain your opinions. But the hatred? The only thing that would justify your hatred of all things Union would be if you were molested by a Teasmster as a young boy.

    I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen, so then it’s just your fucking greed. If your job is the cause of the bitterness you show in your posts, get one that lets you smile when you look in the mirror every morning. It will be a load off your conscience and look better than the money a year from now. Good luck on this decision.

  15. Jack Howell says:

    I think your close to being “spot on” in your 2011 predictions. You are especially correct with your prediction # 5. Other than Jon Netts, the rest of the City Council members are nothing more than sheepeoples who are easily bullied by the arrogant City Manger Jim Landon. I even question Nett’s ability, at times, to control Landon’s influence. One has to wonder who is really running the city? Jim Landon is out of control and nobody on the City Council has the intestinal fortitude to reel him in. The proposed city hall is but one example. He gets what he wants despite the will of the people! You are correct. If Jon Netts is defeated in September 2011 Jim Landon will have caused it.

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