I have never been into all that contemporary CE (Current Era) and BCE (Before Current Era). For me, counting the years with the Latin preface Anno Domini (In The Year Of Our Lord) suffices as much now as it did 20 or 200 or 1500 years ago, and does so for most people, except for woke academics. Mind you, the monk who decided to count the years from the birth of Christ (and got canonised for his efforts) did get the actual year of Christ’s birth wrong – He did first come to us about 7 or 8 years earlier than the year 1 (there is no year zero).
If that does not work for you, then as an alternative perhaps we should count the years from the actual creation of the world, which would make right now the year 6030 or so – given that the somewhat pedantic Bishop Usher calculated from his reading of the Bible that the world was created sometime in October of 4008 BC….
But this is all just me being a tad provocative as a segue into my reflections on New Year’s Day, AD 2022. I am not a creationist, and my practice of Roman Catholicism rarely goes much further than ticking that box on the religion question on the Census every 5 years.
Today was a stinking hot day – the third in a row, although thankfully it appears that a mild cool change arrived early and has caused the temperature to drop from 39 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees, ending a three day streak of days in the high 30s.
Despite being invited to two New Year Eve parties, I stayed home due to the heat, and was visited by a friend who brought a couple of bottles of chilled sparkling wine with her. That passed the time until a little while after dusk.
Another reason not to go out on New Year Eve is to do with the limited availability of transport home after midnight. Taxis and gig economy rides like Uber were in short supply last night, and the surge prices that Uber allows in high demand situations, whilst a practical demonstration of free market economics, make taking an Uber rather expensive, even for those of us who enjoy a relatively materially affluent bourgeois lifestyle.
The likelihood of big earnings in the wee hours of New Year’s Day for drivers, combined with the heat wave keeping many people indoors, has adversely affected the food delivery services that I am prone to use during heat waves. Drivers became scarce yesterday afternoon, because they presumably needed to rest up for their busiest and most profitable night of the year, and hence in my local area it was impossible to order through any of the three options I keep on my phone (ie Menulog, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats). Nor, with the heat wave, was I going to trek 20 minutes to the nearest Thai restaurant (the one closest to my home closed for good in early December).
Today, my cravings for comfort food continue to be unfulfilled – the driver shortage plus the holiday closures of a lot of restaurants means that there are few options on the delivery apps aside from Macca’s (which is definitely not worth getting delivered) or Domino’s (and even there, the two closest Domino’s stores are not showing up as available for delivery).
So what does AD 2022 hold for us?
I for one am really sick of the Covid Plague – of the self-serving rhetoric of various of our technocratic political leaders, masks, QR codes, and electronic vaccine certificates. Hopefully Omicron proves to be a very mild variant and gives the unvaccinated some ongoing immunity from the plague, whilst a booster shot might finally put the risk away for the rest of us.
A state election is due in November, and I do not see a change of government happening, despite the groundswell of danger by some people in the community against our ersatz Maoist Premier Chairman Dan. There is an utter lack of a credible opposition in Victoria at the moment, as evidenced by the second coming of Matthew Guy as opposition leader, a chap whose tenure as Planning Minister in the last coalition state government was underpinned by at least two highly questionable decisions on zoning. His previous tenure as opposition leader subsequent to that resulted in a heavy defeat, but not before the infamous ‘Lobsters with Mobsters’ lunch which reflected little credit on his judgement.
A federal election is due well before then, although I believe that technically, the House of Reps does not need to face election before October. Most recent federal elections have been held at odd times of year, based on the capricious quirks of the incumbent PM (eg Gillard going in August 2010 in order to seek a mandate immediately after she had pushed Rudd out, Turnbull doing something rather similar in July 2016, and ScoMo going in May 2019 because he thought that the timing was right).
Elections are usually held in either early to mid Autumn or in late Spring. Holding elections in the dead of Winter like Gillard chose just reflects contempt for the party faithful who will have to brave the elements. Summer, aside from the first half of December, is out because of the holiday season and then the reality that it is uncomfortable to campaign in the heat. Which leaves as realistic options late March, April, and most of Spring (except for when we have the AFL and NRL grand finals at the end of September and start of October, and the very start of November, when the Spring Racing Carnival distracts people).
My gut feeling is that an election will be called for April 2 or 9, although as I do not advise ScoMo (only Jesus and the leaders of Hillsong do that), it is beyond my ken to predict.
I think that there will be a change of government federally. In both 1993 and 2004, voters were tired of the federal government, but were scared off by the opposition. They changed their minds resoundingly at the following election.
Whilst the coalition in this term has performed competently, compared to the infighting of their first two terms, they have quite a few things going against them. One is the perception, through the performance and behaviour of various front benchers, that they are arguably amongst the dodgiest governments in Australian history. Another is that the opposition does not have a dislikable fake as its leader this time – they have Albo, who is as loveable as Humphrey B. Bear. And a third is that it is very rare for governments to win fourth terms (I can only think of three instances – the Menzies era run of 8 wins in a row, Hawke-Keating with 5, and Howard with 4).
Of more interest is what happens internationally. Communist China remains a menace to the Indo-Pacific region, although whether it is, as Mao might have said, a paper tiger remains to be seen. There are a lot of demographic and other issues ticking away within the PRC which could see its sudden decline. Putin’s Russia is probably more of a threat to its own citizens than to the Free World, but Putin is belligerent and showing signs of aggressive expansionism not seen since Leonid Brezhnev got drunk at Christmas and ordered the tanks into Afghanistan in 1979.
And the thing we worry about most is money, because we all need to eat and want to have reasonably comfortable lives. This is the time of year where stock brokers and economists make their predictions and give their tips for the coming year.
I will tell you this about those predictions. They will all be wrong. All the stock tipping newsletters I read are hit and miss – for every stock they suggest which suddenly takes off, there are four or five which either go nowhere or totally tank.
[As a personal example, one stock broker made a New Year’s tip in one of the newspapers about a decade ago about a gold explorer called Robust Resources. I punted (and punt is the accurate term) $1000 on it. The company no longer exists, and I think I got out $200 of what I had punted whilst the share price spiralled into terminal decline.]
The vogue for money printing through such pundits as the proponents of Modern Monetary Theory leads me to suspect that the share market is going to continue, despite regular blips, to move upwards.
But there are a lot of headwinds which could affect this. I don’t expect War, but there are other possibilities. The PRC is constantly providing false figures on GDP growth and other economic measures, as well as putting both its own companies and others who invest in China at a high degree of sovereign risk. At some point, whether it is a whale like Evergrande or conflagration across the entire Chinese financial system, there is going to be some sort of serious financial crisis in China.
And of course, we have Bitcoin and all those other cryptocurrencies. These have no intrinsic value and just rely on the great fool theory, a bit like a pyramid scheme or a bubble. People believe in Bitcoin for as long as they will believe in magic beans. When they stop believing that the beans are magic, Bitcoin will collapse.
So, what should you do? I have no answers. Do what you think is most comfortable for you. I think I will be constantly stocking up on toilet paper and canned foods for the zombie apocalypse. I might buy some gold or silver bullion. These are not strategies I am following to get rich – just to ensure that if things end up a lot less optimistically than what Modern Monetary Theorists predict, then I will not be too uncomfortable.
Have a happy new year, readers, and try not to abandon your New Year’s resolutions until next week.