(Author’s note: I wrote this weeks ago, before the curiously timed Foley revelations and before the surprisingly strong recent economic indicators. Neither sways my predictions, which I wrote in one sitting while doped up on cold medicine. Although I do believe about half these will actually happen – you judge which half – I strongly suggest you don’t bet money on it.)
Like most prognosticators, I usually reserve my predictions column until the end of the year. But I don’t see any point in waiting because, frankly, I’m usually wrong.
I sure hope I’m wrong this time.
I say that because we’re in for a recession, most likely a worldwide one, the worst since the early 1980’s. I can’t tell you exactly when it will start, but batten down the hatches, ‘cause it’s coming.
One big indicator of an economic downturn is when automakers start tightening their belts. As usual, America’s automakers were far behind the times, continuing to turn out big ol’ SUV’s when the high gas price writing was on the “holy cow! We can’t afford this” wall. There may be a rally in the used car market, as people trade for cars that could fit in the trunks of their old vehicles, but the gas-sucking gravy train is over. Where the consumers go, the automakers go. Where the automakers go, the parts suppliers go. Where the parts suppliers go – well, we’re all going to heck in a hand basket, misery loves company, and all sorts of other clichés to substitute for “Here comes trouble”.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch house, the housing boom bubble is bursting as we speak. A lot of people have been making their living in the construction industry, but, like an overdose of Ex-Lax, it’s an artificial movement that can’t be sustained forever.
Add the two together, and the economy is going to dump like … well, see above about Ex-Lax. That’s one reason why I’m making my predictions now: I have an uneasy feeling all this will be obvious by early next year.
Here’s how the rest of the decade and beyond will go:
November, 2006: The Democrats take control of both houses of Congress in not-very-close elections. For the next two years G.W. Bush uses his veto power more than in the entire previous six years of his presidency. Except for the ongoing attempts to impeach Bush, the government grinds to a halt. No one notices.
Attempts are made by Congress to impeach every future president until 2042, when President Jenna Bush successfully pushes through an amendment to the Constitution that punishes “frivolous impeachment” with large fines.
February, 2007: Riots break out in several Wal-Marts when employees begin putting up Christmas, 2007 merchandise displays.
May, 2007: The 2008 presidential campaign begins in earnest. By the end of the year there are 26 Democrat candidates, 19 Republican candidates, 78 independent candidates, and Ralph Nader.
August, 2007: Ford declares bankruptcy, beginning a long legal battle that culminates in a government bail-out. By 2011 Ford is solvent again, and making a profit off hybrid electric cars they’ve had the technology for since 1989.
November, 2007: Rumors circulate that Fidel Castro is dead -- again. In 2012 Cuban authorities finally admit Castro died in 1987, and they’ve been circulating old footage of him ever since.
In 2013, Castro’s 26 year old clone takes control of Cuba.
Spring, 2008: As the primary season begins, the mainstream media makes a concentrated effort to uncover every single bad thing every Republican candidate ever did. Fighting back, bloggers and Midwest talk show hosts begin a similar investigation of all Democratic candidates.
In response, by July, 2008, all presidential candidates drop out of the race. Ralph Nader declares himself provisional leader and attempts to move into the White House, but is driven off by a cigar-wielding Rush Limbaugh. A grass roots campaign to draft Colin Powell begins, but he flees the country.
August, 2008: Terrorists attack a major American city, killing several dozen people and injuring thousands in the hopes of controlling the election results.
September, 2008: After three days of waving banners and screaming, Republicans pick a far right wing conservative, and the Democrats a far left wing liberal for their Presidential candidates. Both claim to represent the “common” people.
November, 2008: Moderate voters stay away from the polls in droves, but of the 15% who do vote, most vote for the Democratic candidate. The Democrats declare they’ve been given a mandate by America to make changes, which they proceed to not make. Colin Powel returns from his “vacation” in Australia.
Early 2009: Bio-fuels have become so successful in North America that foreign oil imports actually fall. Certain countries get very nervous.
October, 2010: The Cubs lose the World Series when a playback review reveals their winning runner forgot to touch third base.
November, 2010: Republicans make gains in the mid-term elections, but Democrats retain control of the House and Senate.
Summer, 2011: The recovering economy takes a hit when bad weather across the country ruins crops. For the first time, people wonder what will happen if all that bio-fuel has to go back to making food.
September, 2011: New Orleans sinks. Ex-mayor Nagin stages a protest in front of ex-President Bush’s ranch.
January, 2012: Food riots break out – there’s enough to supply everyone, but not enough bio-diesel to get the food to market.
May, 2012: Astronomers continue arguing over whether Pluto is a planet.
November, 2012: The President is reelected in a squeaker, thanks in part to the first Hispanic Vice-Presidential candidate. Recounts are necessary in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the new state of West Michigan.
March, 2013: A comet wipes out New Jersey. The parties blame each other. Mayor Nagin, recently relocated to Hoboken, claims NASA steered the asteroid there to wipe out the African-American population. Jesse Jackson leads a march.
July, 2014: The first coal fueled, steam powered car goes online. Everyone proclaims it the most original thing they’ve ever seen.
Print this out, people. Wait and see.