Same As It Ever Was 

And other New Year's predictions

It's that time of year again. Psychics, economists, historians, pundits and climate scientists are all taking runs at the future, trying to foretell everything from the numbers of unemployed college graduates on Election Day to next September's ice cover in the Arctic Ocean.

It's a fool's errand; but, in the spirit of everlasting folly, here are my predictions for 2014:

Politics

Idaho will remain a one-party state, sending a full slate of Republicans back to Washington, D.C., and Republican supermajorities to the Statehouse. Like any other one-party state--be it Republican, Democratic, Stalinist or Wahabist--Idaho will fall a year further into injustice and corruption, as cronyism, nepotism, kickbacks and quid-pro-quos substitute for action of, by and for the people.

In reaction to this stultifying status quo, an Idaho Youth Party will arise, dedicated to forcibly retiring all over-30 elected officials, state employees and corporate executives. Other party planks will include tax-funded texting, a maximum voting age of 39, forgiveness of all college loans, elimination of college tuition, an end to the distinction between cyber-reality and real reality, and incentivized euthanasia for Social Security recipients.

Youth Party candidates will win 99 percent of the under-30 vote, which will amount to 1 percent of the total vote. A Youth Party spokesperson will note that the vote percentage, though small, was sure to increase "once the old farts die off and the Millennials lose their faith in passive aggression."

Worldwide, American military bases will begin to close as budget cuts force the contraction of Empire. In Idaho, police departments will be inundated with repatriated military equipment, including A-10 Warthogs, land mines, CS gas, cluster bombs, Abrams battle tanks and depleted uranium ammunition. A number of sheriff's departments will inaugurate paramilitary auxiliaries, deputizing any citizen with authoritarian tendencies and conducting tank driving and riot-control training, sometimes in the same lesson. These paramilitaries will exist in a fragile peace with any Idahoans who remain out of uniform.

Earth Science

Outgassing from methane hydrate deposits off the Siberian coast will lead to record high Arctic temperatures, which will result in more Northern Hemisphere jet stream anomalies, which will result in extreme Idaho droughts punctuated by record-setting Idaho rainfall. Scientists will explain runaway feedback loops and the Great Permian Extinction. Fundamentalists will explain angels with flaming swords. Venture capitalists will explain opportunities in Arctic oil, Arctic agriculture, Arctic real estate and climate refugee smuggling.

In China, levels of atmospheric particulates will reach LD (Lethal Dose)-50 for the city of Harbin, killing 6 million people in a two-week period. The Chinese government will decree that henceforth, only Obama-certified "clean coal" will fuel Chinese power plants.

In Idaho, agriculture will take a hit from the effects of drought, floods, heat, hail, northward-migrating pests and Hispanic PETA members infiltrating feedlots and dairies.

Sports

Increasing evidence that micro-concussions cause lifelong damage to developing neocortexes will cause a substantial minority of Idaho parents to forbid their children's participation in football and soccer. An Idaho school district will be sued for willingly destroying its football players' ability to conduct abstract thinking. Other districts will be sued when they eliminate football altogether due to financial and ethical concerns. At a conclave of Idaho prosecuting attorneys, a forensic psychologist will lecture on the ties between small town football and a persistent culture of rape.

The attack on football will prompt right-wing legislators to suggest that without football, Idaho will no longer need high schools or universities. They will introduce legislation to make Idaho the All-Home-School-and-Safe-Programmed-Learning State, a move expected to result in enormous tax savings, stimulate Idaho's Creationist software startups and keep foreign ideas from corrupting Idaho's youth.

Finance

Official inflation: 2 percent. Real inflation: 8-9 percent. Official unemployment: 7.6 percent. Real unemployment: 17 percent. Official student debt: $1.2 trillion. Real student debt: all disposable income, payable monthly until death or homelessness.

The Dow will go up and up and up.

Americans will subject many of their cherished institutions to cost-benefit analyses. College degrees, professional sports teams, local governments, new freeways, vacation condos, home mortgages, suburbs, late-life medical care, children--none of these will pencil out.

Sun Valley's annual summer orgy of excess and schmooze, the Allen & Co. party, will feature 300 armed and uniformed security personnel. The increased security will be instituted after FBI agents reveal a Youth Party plot to steal Rupert Murdoch's mummified body from its usual table in the Duchin Lounge and hold it for ransom.

Culture

Miley Cyrus will host the Academy Awards wearing nothing but 8-inch heels, a spiked silver tongue-sheath and strategically positioned Winnie-the-Pooh decals.

Wal-Mart will begin hosting "Cage-Fight Wednesdays."

Finally, the Kardashians will not go away in 2014. Not even one of them. Not even when begged. Not even with tears.

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