Scrooge-like predictions for the New Year

Mostly dour predictions, offered with the hope that I end up being wrong.

SACRAMENTO – The United States and California in particular are continuing down a dangerous path where more decisions about almost everything in life are made by government officials rather than by individual citizens. That’s a fancy way of saying that we are losing our freedoms, slowly but surely. Maybe it’s not so slowly, but it is surely, and the intrusions are coming at every level of government.

The Christmas season is a great time to focus on enduring things, even if reality isn’t always pleasant. As I assess the past year and look toward the new one, I’m left with the sad conclusion that, regardless of who wins the presidency, nothing of substance will change on the freedom front. Here are my mostly dour predictions, offered with the hope that I end up being wrong:

Economic rebound will delay reform: Even a hampered market economy is wonderfully resilient, and we’re seeing signs that the economy is improving a bit. That’s good for obvious reasons, but bad also. When things go well financially, the public will be happy and governments will have more money. All the worry about debt bubbles, incompetent government and pension costs will subside. Governments only reform things when they have no other choice. An improving economy gives them other choices.

Republicans will chase away small-government voters: The GOP has never been a particularly good vehicle to stand up against government encroachment, but it has often gotten some of the rhetoric right. But a contentious presidential race is bringing out the big conservative guns against small-l libertarian candidate Ron Paul, who is the only consistent pro-freedom voice in the crowd (whatever his other flaws, and long-shot status). A great example: "Mainstream" critics recently have mocked Paul’s crusade against laws that ban the selling of raw milk. They say this is such a small issue, and his emphasis on it portrays his “crazy uncle” weirdness. But the smallness of the matter is the issue. If Americans cannot sell raw milk to willing buyers without risking a SWAT-team raid, then what area of life is left to individual choice? The GOP doesn’t really get this point and as a result will fail to deliver a compelling enough message to defeat Obama, especially if my economic-rebound prediction comes true.

Freedom won’t make the national agenda. I’m not exactly going out on a limb here. Americans love to wave the flag and boast about their freedoms, but until they ask themselves some tough questions, it’s likely that more freedoms will evaporate. Already, most Americans hand over about half their income to government. Just for fun, try to name a few areas of life that aren’t taxed or regulated by the government. The government can take away your children based merely on assertions of abuse, or take your property and give it to a developer. You cannot build anything or remodel anything in your home, start a business, hire someone, drive anywhere, buy a firearm, make a political donation or do much of anything without being subject to myriad rules, regulations, taxes, fees, inspections, permits. There’s no danger of this scenario getting better.  Unfortunately, as the federal government plays an even bigger role in the business of health care, we will see more – not fewer – examples of bureaucrats meddling into the most personal areas of our lives.

War on Terror will drone on. Despite the welcome return of troops from Iraq, the United States will soon find new places to dispatch those troops. Leaders of both parties are ratcheting up the anti-Iran rhetoric, so the U.S. is not about to reduce its presence in the Middle East or reduce its absurdly high level of military spending. Domestic government grows during wartime, and this open-ended war on terror will provide endless justification for government snooping at home. NPR recently reported, for instance, of expanded use of government drones for law enforcement purposes at home. (At least we won’t need to watch any more dystopian movies.)

Civil libertarians will wander in the wilderness. Republican rhetoric about limited government and family values (Newt Gingrich, for God’s sake?) are as empty as Democrats’ feigned concerns about civil liberties. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorff recently detailed this liberal president’s angering of civil libertarians: “He has previously been subject to complaints about his war on whistleblowers, the humanitarian and strategic costs of his drone war, the illegality of the war he waged in Libya, his use of the state secrets privilege, his defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, and his assertion of the power to kill American citizens accused of terrorism. But news that Obama plans to sign rather than veto a bill enshrining indefinite detention into U.S. law and failing to exempt American citizens is provoking unprecedented ire.”

Parties will major in the minors. Both parties will continue to mainly argue over “tempest in a teapot” issues, such as whether to pass a tiny payroll tax break that lasts only two months or to do so for somewhat longer, and whether to slightly reduce the growth in federal spending over the next decade or do so ever more slightly. Don’t expect real reform or even substantive discussions. That this prediction is such a no-brainer is a reminder of how hopeless things are from a political-reform standpoint.

Expect a full-on California tax push. In California, thanks to redistricting and the continued fleeing of California GOP voters to other states, Democrats will expand their grip on power. They will bury pension reform, ignore the state's dismal business climate and pass hundreds of new regulations. They will soon launch a frontal assault on Prop. 13’s tax limitations, given that the majority party has decided that the state government is cut to the bone and there’s nothing else to do but raise taxes early and often.

The prognosis isn’t good, but there’s always time to reverse course. The New Year offers boundless opportunities along with the likely pitfalls.

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  • ||

    You forgot one.

    Tony won't get laid in 2012 either.

    No, blowing Obama doesn't count.

  • anon||

    Bullshit; I can already feel Obama's dick in my ass.

  • KOCHsuckers seem jealous||

  • NoTalentAssclown||

    BALKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • Tim||

    Donald Trump mounts third party challenge in secret deal to get Obamam re-elected with 44% of the vote.

  • Realist||

    The winner of the Presidential race will mount the American people.

  • anon||

  • AlmightyJb||

    Would someone like to explain to me what the problem is with sports betting? We're getting a casino next year and I was looking forward to betting on football and basketball. Then I find out that sports betting won't be allowed. WTF?

  • KDN||

    Everyone is still afraid of point shaving and game-throwing is my guess. Shouldn't be any sort of problem at the pro level, though it potentially could be for the colleges, especially since the NCAA screws so much of its labor force out of its peak earning potential.

  • KDN||

    The casino industry has argued for stronger federal policing of online gambling, citing concerns about fraud and theft.

    Yeah, fraud and theft, that's the ticket! Rent seeking at its finest.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Exactly

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Maintaining a monopoly without government mandate us hard!!

  • AlmightyJb||

    You forgot to mention Gary Johnson winning the presidency. I really hope Howard Stern isn't VP.

  • GILMORE||

    Unlike Ira Stoll's predictions from yesterday... I think everything here is spot on. However, these arent so much 'predictions' as saying, 'the status quo is likely to continue as expected'.

    It would be nice if someone at least had the balls to make a call along the lines of "Obaba loses because of Ohio and Pennsylvania flipping GOP", or, "EU decides on 'Two Speed' europe - kicks Greece, Portugal, out, but puts Italy, Spain on life support indefinitely."

    I have yet to see a single 'prediction' with any conviction or foresight yet.

  • Hater||

    I love predictions lists!
    I predict there will be a few more, and soon!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Predictions list and weight loss tips. Happy New Year!

  • ||

    "Losing Weight By Predicting The Future, In 10 Easy Steps"

  • Almanian||

    -10 lbs

    Until May, then you gain it all back, +5

  • ||

    The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorff recently detailed this liberal president’s angering of civil libertarians: “He has previously been subject to complaints about his war on whistleblowers, the humanitarian and strategic costs of his drone war, the illegality of the war he waged in Libya, his use of the state secrets privilege, his defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, and his assertion of the power to kill American citizens accused of terrorism. But news that Obama plans to sign rather than veto a bill enshrining indefinite detention into U.S. law and failing to exempt American citizens is provoking unprecedented ire.”

    Damn...unprecedented ire - I feel my constitutional rights are safe now - NOT!
    American politics are like professional wrestling - the wrestlers make a big show of wacking each other, but the fights are for show, and they share Thanksgiving dinner and drinks, while milking the spectators...

  • Raston Bot||

    it'll be a show when the split Congress balks on California's "state stabilization" bailout in another year or two.

  • ||

    Gold falls below $1000/oz by year end.
    GOP takes Senate, keeps House, Obama wins.
    Markets rejoice on gridlock - S&P 500 over 1400
    Dollar continues to gain strength
    ECB pushes loan program past billion Euro mark
    Greece maintains monetary union status

  • KDN||

    Aside from gold falling below $1k / oz, I fully expect all of these to happen.

    Wait, I agree with shrike? It's a Kwanzaa miracle!

  • ||

    This will get you in the spirit!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ata_player

  • Troll||

    I think he means "trillion" Euros, not "billion".

    But hey, what's a trillion of ANYTHING between cronies?

  • ||

    yeah - I did.

    IIRC the ECB has already loaned over 600 billion bills out this month at 1%.

    Also Saints over Pats in another great Super Bowl. Yeah - the Saints win at Lambeau - tought call though.

  • ||

    Well, Dr. Evil, one billion Euros is laughable; you mean ONE TRILLION EUROS, Bwahahahaha!

  • ||

    Gold falls below $1000/oz by year end.

    Nope. Gold over $2,000 by the end of the year.

    GOP takes Senate, keeps House, Obama wins.

    Yes, yes, maybe.

    Markets rejoice on gridlock - S&P 500 over 1400

    Nah. Dow flat, maybe up a little.

    Dollar continues to gain strength

    Early? Yes. All year? Maybe.

    ECB pushes loan program past trillion Euro mark

    Oh, sure. Aren't they already almost there? And this is why gold and the dollar will both show strength. That's pure monetization of debt.

    Greece maintains monetary union status

    Tough one. I think if anyone can figure out how to kick them out, they will.

  • Troll||

    Just got off the phone with my broker, he used the term "debt monetization" also.

    It's nice to know that I can still learn things at this advanced age.

    Just not sure I like what I am learning....

  • ||

    Its a misnomer foisted about by goldbugs.

    The Fed has purchased $1.6 trillion of Treauries - they call such "debt monetization".

    But isn't China doing the same thing for us? No one calls out the Chinese for monetizing our debt. But they are forced to as long as they peg.

    Debt is debt.

    The assumption by the goldbugs is that only Fed debt will never be repaid. But we will repay China and the Saudis - that does not make sense.

  • ||

    The biggest input on 'currency manipulation' the Chinese use is basically weighing down their currency with liquid liabilities of ours.

    Its where dissonance hits the argument we need to 'get tough' with China over the 'issue.'

  • ||

    Depressingly, my bet is you're at least 90% correct with your predictions.

  • first||

    Evi is a practical, hands-on kind of girl. She works in a metal shop in a small German town and leads a simple and happy life. Evi is an animal lover and enjoys horse riding and training dogs in her free time.

    She is studying horse and dog psychology part-time and her ultimate hero is Monty Roberts author of the famous book The Horse Whisperer, she also loves listening to The Eagles. She tells us that her current boyfriend is 16; youthful and fun-loving, just like herself. Carefree and straightforward, Evi is plain speaking and will always speak her mind.

    She has dreamt of being a model since she was little and is a natural with her toned, tanned body, firm breasts and winning smile, although her own favourite body part is her pert ass. Evi believes that happiness is the key to a good life!

    http://www.hegre-art.com/models#action=show&id=144

  • ||

    I honestly have come to the conclusion that all the fighting between the two parties is just a face they put on for the public. Hence I predict that even if either of the republicans win they will allow Obama-care to continue even though they vowed to cancel it. Oh they will claim that it's to late or it's settled law it won't matter it's here and since someone like Ron Paul will not be elected and I will never start a revolution, I'm to chicken shit to fight, and most all posters here are also I guess it's time to figure out how to enrich ourselves in this new world order without losing our moral compass.

  • Robert||

    I just want a gov't job. They just unfroze the court assistant hiring in NY, and I'm on the list.

    The great thing about gov't hiring is that it's objective -- you just take a test.

  • Beelebub||

    Moral compasses are for wienies!!

  • Bank On It||

    Anonymous strangers will argue with other anonymous strangers on the internet.

  • ­­­||

    Fuck you, they will not, moron.

  • some dude||

    I agree with the other guy, your an imbecile

  • Realist||

    I predict most people will continue to be the stupid fucks they have always been and will reelect Obama or elect a similar useless Republican.

  • ||

    Prediction: More people voting with their feet.

  • Almanian||

    This is depressing. Thanks!

  • ||

    We are seeing the dissolution of an empire if we don't do something now. I have written on why it is imperative to balance the budget now, not ten years from now, not after the election, but now. We are adding billions to our debt daily. This is crazy. If we were a business we would have had to declare bankruptcy long ago. How is it that Congress can just keep raising the debt ceiling? www.gradyforpresident.com. I not only offer reasons for action but solutions as well. Many of the posts are tied together. Help Balance the Scales, More Solutions for Today's Problems, Americans Can Solve the Mess Without Government Help, Health Care Mess, and Reform the Tax Code Now are a few of the articles I've written which deal directly with the all important issue of our debt and what it will do to us. Give us a look and see what you think.

  • ||

    My predictions for 2012:

    * Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President. He will lose convincingly to Barack Obama.
    * Democratic celebrations will be muted by the absence of any downticket tailwind. The Republicans will retain the House and gain control of the Senate.
    * To secure his position, Barack Obama will throw Eric Holder under the bus. At year-end, Holder will be under criminal investigation for his role in Fast and Furious.
    * One of the "races to watch" will be Scott Brown versus Elizabeth Warren. To the media's surprise, Brown will retain his seat. While Warren's talking points play well with liberals, Brown will take the debates by deriding the notion class warfare by someone pulling in $135k in a part-time job. Much like his 2010 observation that the seat was not Kennedy's but the people of Massachusetts', this will be something of a national rallying point for Republicans. The media will note this as a particularly dirty race.
    * The Euro will not survive the year in its current form. Either it will break into two currencies or Greece will be effectively expelled. If the latter, expect a Greek default.
    * Smart money will increasingly flow out of China, as concerns about the reality of its numbers take an increasing toll. This will mark the beginning of the end for the "global growth" story for equities.
    * Despite record low interest rates, the U.S. economy will grow at somewhere between 1-2%. The Fed will launch QEIII to little effect on already-low rates. Astute observers will wonder how much of this amounts to a bailout of European banks.
    * Corporate earnings will finally break their uptrend. The upside surprises will be increasingly difficult to maintain and retrenchment in Europe and the emerging markets will be a major headwind. Manufacturing will be squeezed by this and by skilled labor shortages. Consistent with a deteriorating earnings story and the decline of the global growth narrative, expect the S&P to hit 1000 sometime in the year.
    * The U.S. will be downgraded again, although not by S&P. There won't be a huge reaction from markets, as not much about the downgrade will be seen as news and the flight to quality from Europe will more than offset credit concerns.

  • Joseph||

    Well, glad you talked about the income disparity amongst the poor. Unemployment at 8.5% is nothing to be quietly high-fived and celebrated despite that 40% of the unemployed are long term unemployed. You can gripe and whine about Regulations and taxes all you want, neither has affect on job creation or the formation of new businesses. Also, I see many people are just passing over that we have a mandate to keep feeding the ponzi-scheme known as Human Insurance without addressing the problem struggling families and individuals are having with Health care. The ONLY industrialized nation without a plan to attack the less fortunate families and individuals health care. While this author addressed a lot of problems that need to be fixed, I feel he personally left out things pertaining to his apparent conservative opinion to persuade the readers to think from a right wing point of view. Our freedoms have been in jeopardy for over a decade now. Until we get money out of politics, politicians will not work for the people. Paul does have the right idea by all of congress and the President and the Supreme Court Justices working off of the average American Income. Also, you also (probably purposefully) left out the massive insider trading problem we have in Congress.

  • ||

    (from History.com):
    "One by one, the Classic [Mayan] cities .... were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization .... had collapsed. The reason for this mysterious decline is unknown, though scholars have developed several competing theories."

    Perhaps the ruling Mayan aristocracy, their supporting 'bureaucracy', and the extent of their self-agrandizing "public works projects", grew so large, expensive and meddlesome, that the productive segment of their society was no longer able or willing to support it. The producers moved away, to where the fruits of their hard work would first benefit and support their OWN families. The parasitic rulers, their "connected" cronies and the vast public bureaucracy, deprived of a host, quickly perished.

    Will future archeologists wonder why the beautiful and seemingly-prosperous land of California was abandoned?

  • Fattyslim||

    "Already, most Americans hand over about half their income to government."

    Er, no. Try closer to 25%.

  • ||

    When the take by state and local governments is factored in it's well over forty percent.

  • ||

    Better start looking at ALL taxes my friend, ie gas tax, sales tax, all the "fees" added to EVERY utility bill you get etc etc etc. I think 50% is a LOW estimate.

  • ||

    Don't forget that each $ that you spend has 5 to 25% or more baked into it for the taxes that the seller has to pay.

  • ||

    RON PAUL will be the next President
    Marijuana will be legalized
    Washington DC will be shut down several times as people protest the painful RON PAUL edicts that must happen to break the corruption in DC
    Obama will go down as the worst President in history
    GUN and AMMO sales will skyrocket
    Stock Market will collapses as the average investor realizes it is all a SCAM

  • ||

    "Already, most Americans hand over about half their income to government."

    What a stupid thing to say, when about half the people pay no federal income tax at all, and the very rich avoid nearly all their taxes.

  • C. dog e. doG||

    Heeeere's Johnny –
    Start addin' it up. Here, I'll get the ball rollin':
    • Social Insecurity: 15.3%
    • Unemployment: ~1.5-3%?
    • Sales tax: ~ 5%?
    • R/E tax: ~ 10%?
    • etc. taxes

    Starts to add up, don't it.
    – C. dog

  • ||

    Mr Greenhut's prediction about CA will happen. The extreme Left Wing Elite are in full control there. Smart people who work for a living or own a business will get out and let the rest tax and feed off of each other until the inevitable collapse. If Obama is reelected the nation will have chosen the same path for itself! There will be nothing to do except stockpile and prepare for an even bigger national collapse! However, the American people pulled back from disaster in 1980. There's no reason to think they won't reject the failed Obama Presidency and put the nation back on the path to growth, jobs, and hope?

  • C. dog e. doG||

    Curse you, Greenhut, for your realism. You just broke my Ron Paul, President bubble.
    – C. dog

  • Hooker||

    I'm going to be 40 this year and for the first time in my life, I am truly frightened about the future. It seems there is no stopping the downward spiral we've entered into. If we don't get leaders into office who care more about freedom than money and votes, the US will most certainly crumble. Of course, citizens have to want freedom, too. Unfortunately, it seems that people care more about getting things for free than retaining their liberty.

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