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2019 predictions bring changes and surprises

January 3, 2019

The best thing about a new year is that it promises changes and surprises. The worst thing about it is precisely the same. So, as we start 2019, here are some predictions.

Weather predictions are always timely and socially and politically safe, until the issue of “climate change” is raised. Climate change, while obvious, will continue to be controversial because its economic impact doesn’t fit President Trump’s agenda or base.

The Farmers’ Almanac, which is less controversial, says to expect “colder than normal weather... from the Continental Divide east through the Appalachians” in February. I believe there also will be more devastating weather events, including fires, floods, droughts and blizzards; they will continue to overwhelm the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fortune Magazine offers business predictions, including reduction in trade tensions because the 2020 presidential election is looming and that women will become even more active in politics. The Federal Reserve will raise its interest rates to a level last seen 11 years ago, old-fashioned cable and wired connections will decrease greatly, and orange wines will be an “in drink” while oat milk, “which foams up better than soy... will be in every coffee shop worth its beans” next year.

Fortune also sees trouble for Facebook unless that company better protects users’ data and controls really fake news. I suspect Facebook will make some cosmetic changes but still find a way to extract all the information it wants as people love to tell others about themselves and Facebook wants the advertising dollars.

Forbes Magazine sees artificial intelligence (AI) as gaining significant importance in business and international politics and, contrary to popular opinion, claims that AI will create more jobs than will be lost. AI assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google’s Assistant will soon become a regular part of most people’s lives in developed countries. Many folks have already found AI assistants more helpful and fun than real life people.

The research and consulting agency Quantumrun predicts foldable cell phones will again become popular, more self-driving cars will be available to the public and all new Volvo cars will be electric. They also believe that a “significant economic recession impacts the US early in 2019 that spreads globally.”

My predictions, based on nothing more than media and intuition, include greatly increased sports betting leading to more bankruptcies; medical marijuana, now approved in over 30 states, will be approved by at least five more but not in West Virginia; annoying robocalls will set a record; and the U.S. Supreme Court will have fewer 5-4 decisions. The stock market’s instability will continue and cause economic repercussions.

Mainstream Republicans will continue to feel lost and bow to President Trump’s wild whims while the party runs up the deficit and pretends to be the party of fiscal responsibility. Democrats will continue to suffer from “old leader syndrome” and disorganization. However, by mid-2019, a powerful group of Democrats will remember that dinosaurs became extinct. America will continue to have more gun deaths and mass shootings, but little more than prayers and sympathy will be offered. President Trump’s behavior and tweets will continue to scare our allies and comfort our foes.

At home, Marshall’s basketball team will have a surprise finish and Huntington and Marshall’s programs and businesses will continue to grow, but our number and depth of potholes will set a record. The opioid epidemic will slowly subside because of the well-coordinated efforts of public safety, health care and community providers.

Predictions are essentially guesses, yet some will come true. The one thing that is certain is that 2019 will bring changes and surprises.

Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net.