Expecting A Wild Ride In ’09

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - December 31, 2008
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In a normal year, I’d be wishing you a Happy New Year and looking back at some good things or forward to hopeful times.

But what can I say about a year of people’s disappearing retirement money, half a million jobs lost and 69 months plus $800 billion of war in Iraq?

Have hope? Be stalwart? Don’t expect miracles from the new Obama administration. No magic cures. Sure, go ahead and wish for them. Wishing never hurts. I don’t believe in miracles.

Most everything that could have made 2009 a time of exciting American renewal will go on the back burner. National health insurance, restructured tax brackets, stripping Big Oil of its tax breaks, a manned trip to Mars, fixing Social Security and Medicare, and spending a lot more on disabled veterans.

We might draw down some troops in Iraq but we’ll be beefing up for a no-end-in-sight fight in Afghanistan.

I haven’t totally given up and lain down to wait to be run over.

I sense we’ll push ahead with some broad environmental improvements - pollution control, highly fuel-efficient cars, more attention to global warming (yes, it does exist). We’ll see more urgency in decisions about biofuels, solar and wind energy and hydrogen power. And maybe that senseless fear of nuclear energy will abate.

Our banking system will emerge better for the crisis that bad practices caused. It’s interesting how Hawaii banks fared so well by sticking to sound loan practices.

Washington must turn its full attention to stimulus and our crazy, immediate gratification via credit card debt. People with no financial pad are carrying $20,000 to $50,000 on those cards. It’s nuts!

I hope to see the start of our Oahu rail transit system. I’m a bit concerned about the route, though, if we don’t include a spur into Waikiki. Why would incoming airport passengers want to have to transfer to a bus or taxi at Ala Moana Center? But you know that for view plane reasons we’re unlikely to have an elevated rail through Waikiki.

I am excited at prospects that America’s image abroad might improve. George Bush insisted things be done our way. Barack Obama seems to listen and be open to compromise. The reaction from foreign leaders has been positive.

And maybe we’ll nail Osama Bin Laden. I’d hope he’s dead so we don’t have a circus trial. But I’ll take him any way we can get him.

Anyway, hold onto your hats because it’s guaranteed to be a wild ride in 2009.

Not as wild, however, as a professor in the Russian foreign ministry predicts - a break-up of America “into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.”

Where does that leave Hawaii, where Russia once had three forts? He doesn’t say.

Happy New Year, readers. My best-of-year movie picks will be up next week.

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