A wing and a prayer

It’s that time again when people look back in order to project into the future. The end of a year always turns the switch, which signals reflection and pontification.

It can be somewhat amusing to listen to the pundits predicting what the upcoming year will bring. The politicians will paint a rosy picture of what is inside their heads, and what they want us lesser mortals to believe. The economists will crunch the numbers and forecast what they mean — good or bad times ahead. The preachers will go to the Good Book to remind themselves of the promises made to the faithful, and the world turns.

And that’s it. The world turns. If there is one thing, 2016 should have taught us, is that nothing is predictable. Everything hangs in the balance. Even the immutable laws of nature have been known to be thrown on their heads. In 2016, a hurricane which was virtually on the doorsteps of Jamaica shifted at the eleventh hour and knocked Haiti instead, killing more than one thousand people and leaving countless others homeless. The same storm did damage to other islands, which at the close of the year are still counting the cost.

The year that was, will be remembered for a very long time. In 2016, the ‘science’ of polling fell into disrepute, twice. The people of Great Britain were not supposed to have voted to leave the European Union. All the pundits and pollsters said so. Yet they did, and not by a slim majority either.

At the end of the exercise, the Britons were trying to figure out what hit them and exactly what they had done. The devil is in the details, and as of the present, the modalities are still being worked out of exactly how Britain will Brexit.

The one event of 2016 that still has many perplexed is the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States of America. His win as the most powerful man in the world has confounded even the most hardened of pollsters.

The predictions told of a win for Hillary Clinton. She was the senior state’s person with years of experience in the art of diplomacy. Trump, on the other hand, had never held public office. His reputation, as a shrewd businessman appeared to have done the trick, despite the stack of accusations—his apparent disrespect for womenfolk, and his reputation as a hard employer. Those negatives and his unwillingness to disclose his tax returns, all should have worked against him. Instead, as the media highlighted his so-called shortcomings, the crowds he attracted grew exponentially. The rest is history.

As the sun sets on 2016, once again the pundits are out in their numbers, making their predictions for 2017. ECLAC says the economy will grow by less than three per cent. The takings from CIP will be less. Government says its hotel projects will finally get off the ground. Social Security will be under new management. Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Lennox Weston has been given the charge to whip the entity into shape.

The Marijuana Commission will begin consultations on just how decriminalisation under a different regime will look. Every household in the twin island nation will have access to water 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as the country will purchase another reverse osmosis plant.

We welcome all this good news. However, there is a saying that goes like this: The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. This is a well-researched and proven behavioural principle.  It’s a great guide for anticipating what lies ahead for our nation in 2016.

If we had a dime for all the times the taps were dry, we would have enough to make a stack as high as Mount Obama. So water at will, will be a dream come true.

Were we to count the number of times pensioners called in to complain of late payments, the man-hours would amount to an inordinate figure. Anything which would result in timely remittance of Social Security payments, will be welcomed news to their ears.

As for projects actually leaving the ground level and rising to the surface, the entire nation would say amen to that prediction. Our GDP depends on it.

As we inch ever closer to a new year, of one thing and one thing only we can be certain, next year will be different from last year. Between Donald Trump and acts of God, the world will look different in 2017.

We turn to a former US president, Benjamin Franklin for the coup de grace. He is credited with saying: there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. We might as well add, all else is a wing and a prayer.

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