We thought it might be fun to lay out some predictions for 2012. Hopefully they won’t be too embarrassing this time next year (but what is the standard of judgement, the Mendoza Line?).
1. As a result of growing instability in the euro-zone and a recession in Europe, the US unemployment rate will be well above 10 percent by January 1, 2013. The blame will fall, as one might expect, on Bush.
2. Despite the promises of a drawdown in Afghanistan—and the exit of 33,000 troops—there will be at least 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan by January 1, 2013.
3. There will be a vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the retirement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The confirmation process will become highly politicized, devouring much of the fall.
4. Paul Krugman will make the case for a large stimulus package in at least ten columns in 2012.
5. Mitt Romney will narrowly win the presidency. The GOP will gain in both chambers, claiming a narrow majority in the Senate (despite the election of Elizabeth Warren to represent Massachusetts). By 2014, unified Republican control with Romney at the helm will make many of us look longingly back to the Obama presidency, as the pattern of reckless spending initiated under George W. Bush will return.
6. John Boehner’s Speakership will not survive the year. His final act as Speaker will be to cry.
7. A number of prominent Democrats, most notably Nancy Pelosi, will decide to retire from Congress.
8. The efforts to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will fail. MSNBC will blame the outcome on suppression of the vote (despite the fact that Mickey Mouse will be allowed to cast multiple ballots).
1. Barack Obama will be re-elected president of the United States. Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination, but in the end Romney’s milquetoast suggestions for marginal fiscal reforms will be insufficiently libertarian to win over the Tea Partiers; his gentle handling of Obama, out of fear of being called, or thought of, as “racist,” will underwhelm the anti-Obama voters; and the lure of free things from the government, under the moral cover of serving equality, will prove too seductive for much of the electorate to resist.
2. California voters will turn down a tax increase, and California will be rescued from default by a bailout from the federal government. Illinois, Michigan, New York, and New Jersey are not far behind.
3. The greater Washington, DC metro area will continue to see real estate prices rise.
4. The lawsuits pending against ObamaCare will fail in the Supreme Court. ObamaCare will become the law of the land.
5. The Chicago Cubs will not win the World Series. (Also, Notre Dame will not win the national championship in football.)
6. Finally, on a cheerier note, the “education bubble” will finally burst, forcing hundreds of colleges and universities to choose between shuttering and dramatically lowering their tuitions.
1. Ron Paul will be a far larger element in the Republican primaries than was expected even a few weeks ago, to the point that in the end Romney has to contend with him, before finally getting the nomination.
2. Partly as a result of Paul’s campaign, partly because of growth of interest in libertarian thought in even ivory-tower academia, libertarianism becomes a mainstream topic of political conversation, even though it has very little effect on immediate policy.
1. Sudan and South Sudan will go to war. Both countries will also experience internal armed conflicts with at least 25 battle deaths.
2. Syria will experience a high-intensity civil war with at least 1000 battle deaths.
3. The intersectarian Iraqi coalition government will collapse and eventually give way to a Shi’a-dominated coalition.
4. Massive ECB intervention will continue to keep the Eurozone on life support, but this policy will become increasingly unsustainable as time
passes. No country will leave the Eurozone in 2012.
5. Romney will probably win the Republican nomination; Obama will probably win re-election; Republicans should narrowly win majorities in
both houses of Congress; Republicans should win control of all four branches of government in New Hampshire (yes, four: the Executive Council
is really a branch unto itself).
1. The Keystone XL pipeline will go forward.
2. Electric car technology will continue to improve but environmentalists will continue to make increased electricity generation difficult. Eventually environmentalists will have to face the tradeoff between support for cleaner cars and the desire to prevent new or expanded large-scale generation facilities that don’t use renewables. The TANSTAAFL law also applies to environmentalists – in the short to medium term, we are going to have to burn fossil fuels in our cars or generate electricity from coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power plants. Or we are going to have to change the basic way we live, and I don’t see that happening (nor is that desirable). Renewables simply aren’t going to cut it on the balance sheet and with our pocketbooks.
3. Piloted military aircraft will continue to be phased out in favor of drones. If you don’t believe me, read Peter Singer’s (the Brookings scholar, not the utilitarian philosopher) Wired for War. Domestic police use of drones will explode and our conception and enjoyment of privacy will shrink anew. Libertarians will debate how far up into the air our property rights extend, whether drones violate those rights, and other finer points – but do nothing politically as the best and brightest of them argue about esoteric issues in academic and movement journals few read; governments will continue to ignore libertarians if they even hear them at all. Libertarian academics will content themselves knowing that they can’t solve the collective action problem on their own and thus it is irrational to do anything about the problem other than bitch and moan (of course, these expressive acts are viewed as consumption goods and thus ok).
4. The Supreme Court 5 will save some shred of the notion of a government of limited and enumerated powers (though one could argue that the horse is already out of the barn) and strike down the individual mandate. This will actually help to lessen conservative/libertarian anxiety, rile up libgressives who will in unrealized irony complain about activist judges, and clear the way for President Obama to win reelection despite a stagnant but technically growing economy and a near-perfect storm for Republicans (who for the millionth time have squandered the moment and their power).
5. Conservatives will continue to trumpet Iraq as a U.S. victory until it becomes so apparent that things aren’t going swimmingly there that they will shift gears and hammer Obama for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by “prematurely” pulling out US troops. They will ignore the reality that we lost the war at the strategic level, we failed to meet our ends and paid a high cost for those things we did achieve, and that the surge narrative is a myth. Maybe this isn’t a prediction since we are already seeing this?
6. The Boston Bruins will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Brad Marchand will so infuriate opponents that they will target his proboscis but in the process fail to prevent him from creating numerous scoring opportunities. Tyler Seguin will “sleep through his alarm clock” and be late to Game 5 of the Cup Finals, be suspended for Game 6, but score a magnificent winning goal in Game 7 over the Detroit Red Wings.
7. The current tyrannical regimes in North Korea and Syria will survive to see 2013.
8. The Free State Project will surge to over 12,000 total joiners and the 1000th Porcupine will move into the Granite State before the end of the year.
Of course, the first half of #4 is a hope more than a prediction. But #6 is a lock thanks to Timmy Thomas!