John Edward, a resident of Chelmsford who earned his master’s degree at UMass Lowell and who teaches economics at Bentley University and UMass Lowell, contributes the following column.
Next year will be important for the economy and in politics. I decided to go out on a limb and make some predictions for the New Year.
I purchased a crystal ball to help with writing this column. I submitted an expense statement to Dick Howe. He said he would hold off on deciding whether or not to approve it until the end of 2012.
I will start with an easy one. I predict the United States national debt will continue to grow, exceeding $16 trillion and approaching $17 trillion by the end of 2012.
Congress ignored the debt commission’s report. The “Super Committee” gave up without an agreement. In 2012, Congress will act by appointing a blue-ribbon commission with equal representation of Democrats and Republicans to study why bipartisan committees do not work. A stalemate will ensue.
I predict that in 2012 Congress will again fail to agree on a serious long-term plan to tackle the budget deficit. Political pundits will blame it on the fact that it is an election year.
On at least one day of trading in 2012 the Dow Jones Industrial Average will fall by more than 3 percent. Major news outlets will lead with conjecture on the likelihood of another recession, a possible market crash, the end of capitalism as we know it, and how you can learn more by visiting their web site.
I predict that members of Congress who say they are serious about balancing the budget will continue to oppose allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. Tea Party supporters, who insist on a balanced budget, will continue to say little about corporate tax breaks that cost hundreds of billions of dollars per year — this despite the original Boston Tea Party forming in opposition to a corporate tax break.
On at least one day of trading in 2012 the Dow Jones Industrial Average will go up by more than 3 percent. Major news outlets will lead with conjecture on a new era of economic growth, the launch of a bull market, the validation of free-market economics, and what people like you are saying about it in their non-scientific poll on Facebook.
I predict the gap between the top 1 percent and the rest of us will continue to grow. In 2012, inequality will become more extreme for incomes, wealth, justice for all (who can afford it), access to health care, access to financial services, and the ability to influence the political process.
20th Century Fox will announce that they will start production in 2012 of another sequel to the movie Wall Street. Of course, the studio will produce this installment in 3-D with Dolby Digital surround sound and will only show it in theaters with stadium seating. The tag line for the original was “greed is good.” For the new sequel, it will be “if you cannot afford to see this movie you must be lazy.”
It may not happen in 2012, but I predict in the next few years jobs will be lost and businesses will go under in Greater Lowell due to casino gambling. No casinos will be built in this area. However, we are close enough that people who currently spend locally will get addicted to spending at these “resorts.” Jobs will be lost at Greater Lowell entertainment venues, restaurants, shops, hotels, and convenience stores.
A reporter from The Sun will win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism on the plight of the unemployed and homeless. Wait… never mind. That was Season 5 of The Wire – wrong Sun newspaper.
I predict the Massachusetts Department of Revenue will continue to call revenue generated on the sale of beer excise “taxes” and on large-screen televisions sales “taxes.” Governor Patrick, who campaigned in 2006 on a platform of tax fairness, will refuse to admit that casino proceeds heading to the Commonwealth will be an extremely regressive tax. He will deny gambling proceeds are a tax because participation is voluntary. The Governor will not explain how buying beer and TVs is involuntary.
An independent non-profit non-partisan non-denominational nondescript think tank will issue a report on the detrimental impact on small businesses of higher tax rates for personal incomes over $1 million. The report will not explain the absence of any actual examples of small businesses that would experience the detrimental impact.
I predict that in 2012 the Attorney General’s office will investigate at least one elected official in Massachusetts in a highly publicized case of greed and corruption involving tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps not enjoying the same degree of media scrutiny, there will be dozens of cases of greed and corruption by corporate executives involving millions or tens of millions of dollars.
There will be continued advocacy for less government. Market fundamentalists will make the case that governments do not have adequate financial incentives to be innovative and efficient. They will not explain how the government managed to invent the Internet.
I predict the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 split decision, will rule that federal mandates for health insurance violate the Constitution. The uninsured will continue to have access to very expensive emergency health care for preventable conditions. Average costs for health care will continue to rise at alarming rates. A pound of cure is apparently better than an ounce of prevention.
A neighborhood controversy will develop in Chelmsford in 2012. It will involve a complaint of loud dog barking. While the Animal Control Officer investigates the situation, town volunteers will observe that the barking actually raises the level of public discourse above the poisonous rhetoric they were receiving in the mail during 2011.
I will really go out on a limb on this one. I have been predicting for months that Mitt Romney will be to President Obama as Martha Coakley was to Scott Brown. Romney, like Coakley, has the name recognition, and more importantly the money, to win his party’s nomination. However, as Coakley did not excite the liberal base, Romney will not excite the conservative base. It may seem unlikely for a sitting President to be re-elected given the state of the economy, but it will happen in 2012.
A major party candidate for the presidency will air a commercial with a sound bite from an opponent, with the audio playing backwards. The campaign will deny it was in any way intended to mislead the public.
One final prediction: I will never see a dime of that money I spent on the crystal ball.