Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
-James 4: 13-14
Each year in December, I make predictions about the coming year. I also go back and grade the predictions I made the previous December as the year comes to an end. The grade for 2020 has been in for months now and, of course, it’s an F. Even if I had made new predictions in the Spring, it would still be an F. 2020 has been a year like no other in my lifetime. Only the World Wars have been worse and the 1918-19 flu pandemic comparable. Covid-19 changed 2020 and will certainly change the future.
So it is with some trepidation and considerable humility that I make these predictions for 2021.
_1 In Georgia, the Republican candidates win narrow victories. (And the Democrats will no doubt challenge the results. It’s what we do in America these days.)
_2 January will be the worst month yet for Covid-19. It’s going to be ugly.
_3 Covid-19 related restrictions will ease up a bit by mid-year, but are not going away in 2021. If you are expecting “normal” to return sometime in 2021, you will be disappointed.
_4 70% of Americans will have been vaccinated by the end of the year, but there will still be a good deal of uncertainty. Some will still get sick and some will die. The fear and the testing will not go away. Wearing masks and maintaining social distance will be with us at least through the winter of 2021-22.
_5 I’ll make no predictions regarding who will win our major sporting events. It will be another Covid impacted year. I think it’s unlikely that college basketball will have a normal season. There will be some sort of reduced and restricted “March Madness”; and there will be a National Champ. Baseball and football will continue testing players and limiting attendance. But there will be more fans in the stands and fewer players in quarantine. Golf will go on with only a select few spectators around greens and tee boxes. I suppose the Olympics will go forward in some fashion, but it will no doubt be muted and disappointing.
_6 GDP will grow and some sectors of the economy will do very well. Travel, entertainment, restaurants and hotels will do better than they did in 2020, but that’s not saying much. It may be 2022 before there is much recovery in those sectors. E-commerce will continue its rapid growth. Retail survivors will continue to adjust and re-invent themselves.
_7 Public schools will continue to struggle with Covid through the Spring. The education and skills gap continues to widen with underperforming school districts falling further behind.
_8 Crime increases as law enforcement agencies struggle with budget cuts and more scrutiny. Increasingly police officers will avoid involvement with citizens unless absolutely necessary.
_9 The Retreat to Remote will be in full swing as those who are able to leave crowded urban areas move to small towns and outlying areas. Affordability, safety and space become more important than the availability of shopping, services, restaurants, arts & entertainment.
_10 Social Justice Warriors will resume their demands and pressure the Democratic administration to respond to their agenda.
The good news is that by this time next year we’ll be in a better place relative to the pandemic than we are today. The bad news is that we are running out of time and money to fix the real problems in this country, much less around the world.