The time between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of the slowest news periods of the year, which is why you see an avalanche of “Top Ten” this and “Most Important” that on a lot of websites. When there’s nothing to write about, columnists and analysts will generally write about … nothing, albeit as creatively and entertainingly as possible.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Aaron Hanscom, PJM’s managing editor, pinged me on our AIM channel and asked me to write a year end piece, listing the top stories for 2010.
Now Aaron is a benevolent tyrant. It’s been years since he executed a writer for refusing to obey orders, and floggings have become quite rare — at least for males. Nevertheless, it was not without a little trepidation that I meekly suggested an alteration in my assignment: I wanted to write a piece predicting news headlines for 2011.
With a personal motto of “the easy way is always the best way,” you can see why I chose predictions over doing all that boring research on which stories made an impact over the previous year. Writing about what’s going to happen is infinitely less stressful and more entertaining than penning a column on what has already occurred.
Besides, it’s New Year’s Eve, you and I want to go out tonight and celebrate, and if perchance you don’t catch up with this article until New Year’s Day, reading it will not put any additional demands on your hangover-addled brain. So consider this my holiday gift to all of you who have given me your love and support this past year.
The easy thing about predicting news headlines for 2011 is that they will almost certainly look an awful lot like news headlines from 2010. The dirty little secret about this insignificant little ball of dust and gasses we exist upon is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyone can predict that Hugo Chavez will say something loony, Vladmir Putin will do something odd, and some jihadist nutcase will blow himself up actually thinking that 72 virgins await him in paradise. The challenge is to come up with something plausible and present it as something new and exciting.
For instance, I have absolutely no doubt that over the next year, there will probably be several headlines involving a Democrat saying something bat guano crazy about economics. It’s not that Democrats know next to nothing about how the economy works. It’s that they are absolutely, stone cold clueless about the subject. Comparative lit majors didn’t need to take Econ 101 to graduate, so the subject is even less familiar than Mandarin Chinese to most liberals. You get the impression that liberals believe that unless government controls it, nothing exists, and that this control extends to every thin dime you earn by the sweat of your brow. It’s not your money, it’s government’s — and government has the power to tell you how much of it you can keep, rather than you telling government how much they can take.
Anyone who seriously believes that unemployment benefits are “the biggest boost we can give the economy” will no doubt make similar horrifically inept gaffes in the coming year about the nature of a free market and how things really work. Try these on for size, the generic “Democrat” substituting for the name. Just fill in the blanks later:
“Democrat accuses GOP of trying to shorten recession on the backs of the unemployed”
“Democrat says 90% employment ‘acceptable’”
“Democrat says eliminating 200,000 jobs in coal industry will grow the economy”