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Sunday, January 1, 2012

The future ain't what it used to be

You never know how things are going to turn out until they happen.  But the events of past years and the histories of the players on the world stage can give us some revealing clues about how 2012 may unfold.  So despite Yogi Berra's sound warning that "it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future," now that we're about twelve hours into the new year, I'm going to unleash my prognostications.

In Canada, we'll have a sound economic year. The next general election is about four years away, and the Conservatives have a solid majority, so the Canadian political scene will remain stable. The New Democrats will elect a new leader who is profoundly uninspiring and unable to connect with people in any meaningful way. The Liberals will sit back and watch NDP support gradually erode as the ineptitude of their parliamentary representatives makes itself obvious. The NDP and Liberals will do whatever they can to try to get attention for themselves, but the public will remain more interested in the latest Kardashian gossip than the teapot tempests the opposition parties try to stir up.

The battlegrounds that will form in the new year in Canada will largely involve the Labour movement and governmental austerity programs. Governments at all levels will attempt to reduce spending and their will be significant reductions in the number of public employees. Public service unions will try to make it an all-out fight, framing spending reductions as "a class war on the poor" and threatening horrors of cutbacks and social upheaval if the cuts occur.

What the public service unions won't realize until it's to late is that the public is fed up with them and sees through their self-interested hyperbole. We've reached the stage where most union members are disgusted with and humiliated by union leadership, who clearly are acting, not in the interest of the taxpayers or even public sector workers, but for themselves.

Union funded professional protesters like the Occupy movement, OCAP and their controlled mouthpieces like rabble.ca, will do little to sway the majority of Canadians who see them as a bizarre form of  paid lobbyists who utilize street theatre as their communications strategy.

The Occupy Movement itself will continue to desperately try to get attention and struggle for some relevance, but without any real success. The word is out on them;  it was never a grass-roots movement. Occupy was an orchestrated effort by public sector unions, socialists, Marxists, and their bigoted strategists like Kalle Lasn of Adbusters. These aren't new people protesting new problems, they are the same old full-time malcontents utilizing a new public relations approach. The camping-out technique did let them swell their usual numbers with the ranks of homeless, mentally ill and criminals, but the result was that their protests also featured assaults, rapes, murders, and drug-overdoses.

Occupy was characterized by incompetence evidenced through an inability to accomplish anything other than to demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of radical socialists who want to run the world, but couldn`t even effectively manage a campground.

The other domestic battlefield will be in education, where radical socialists are trying to indoctrinate future generations with the aid of hapless provincial education ministers. The public has caught on to this and with increased attention on the matter, a strong backlash is brewing.

In the US, there is a very good chance that the Republicans will implode and Barack Obama will be elected to a second term. Ron Paul, an isolationist extremist and crackpot, will not get the Republican nomination. But the infighting between him, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney leading up to the convention could create serious enough harm to let Obama recover from his slump in popularity.

A lot will depend on what happens to the US economy in the next ten months, and how Obama deals with crises like Iran`s posturing and nuclear ambitions. The Republicans may pull out a November victory if Gingrich of Romney emerges as the nominee and presents a reasonable, centrist candidacy that isn`t embarrassed by American Exceptionalism and presents sound economic alternatives. But the Republicans have a way of shooting themselves in the foot, so we`ll just have to see how things turn out. My actual prediction here is that the Republicans do capture the White House in the election, but I`m not going to bet the farm on it.

As far as the rest of the world goes, it`s going to be a mess. South America is going to have economic disasters and political upheavals, although on the bright side, Hugo Chavez may die and a responsible government could be restored in Venezuela.

Islamic extremism will continue to be a major threat to the civilized world. The middle eastern Arab upheavals will lead to Islamist regimes that claw back human rights. There won`t be the sort of full-fledged tyranny in any of them that emerged in Iran following its 1979 revolution, but that part of the world will become more dangerous and more extreme. The Palestinians leadership will conitue to give contradictory messages about its intentions towards peace while their incompetence and hate prevents any progress from being made. Israel, hamstrung by horrendous proportional representation system that almost guarantees government participation by religious extremest parties will muddle through the status quo for another year. The barbarity of the Arab upheavals and Iran, combined with the US election will reduce pressure for any meaningful progress in the Palestinian/Arab/Israeli peace process.

One very dangerous development that may occur is that Iran, facing economic and military pressure, may utilize its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah to start another war in the region to deflect attention from the Islamic Republic. If that happens, they will also be utilizing their useful idiot proxies in the west to wage a propaganda war on their behalf.

On the whole, 2012 will be another year where Canadians should be very grateful for having one of the safest, most prosperous and free countries in the world as their home.

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