Labor Update: Predictions For 2014

Dick TracyAs we approach New Year’s Eve, it’s tempting to write a year-end review of all that passed in the preceding twelve months related to labor and politics. But my memory is bad. And I’d sooner not have to think about most of what transpired so I can retain some holiday cheer (I personally had my pension raided by the Democrat-dominated Illinois legislature and Governor).

So here goes – while it snows, and while I remain grateful for food, a roof over my head, and all the exquisite people I know and have the good fortune to work with – are my not-so-scientific based predictions of what will come in the next twelve months.  May you have a Happy New Year. May you also stay angry at the condition of the state of things and motivated to change them, but not obsessed, so you still enjoy good people, good food, good times, and the wonder of the universe (this is why we struggle and not give in to apathy, isn’t it?).

Immigration Reform Won’t Get Passed

Not because it isn’t wise, humane, and simply the best way to evolve into a global economy, but it is an election year, and electeds do not like to take risks when they are under job-review. Recall the damage done to Democrats in 2010 after the extremely compromised ACA passed. If I were captain of the universe I would push hard for passage of the DREAM Act instead, forcing the bigots into saying the ugly ideas they hold in their hearts but rarely articulate (see Steve King prediction below). Then we can hope to pick up enough seats to push for meaningful comprehensive immigration reform in 2015

A Woman Elected to National Office from Iowa

Frankly, this is a battle that I am personally itching to get behind, and I know a lot of other smart, brass tacks ladies in the state ready to champion a woman who makes this the centerpiece of her strategy. Bitter attacks against women’s reproductive freedom hit a raw nerve, and there are plenty of men who care deeply about this cause as well, not the least of the reasons why is because their wives, girlfriends and daughters aren’t earning nearly as much as their male counterparts.

Stacy Appel can do it (women outnumber men in CD3 395,938 to 383,063). So can Janet Peterson. But only if they run aggressive non-traditional campaigns that tap into Iowa’s historic progressiveness. There are probably a half dozen other potential women candidates out there, says Pam Jochum, who are over overly qualified to run and win. I know she’s a journalist not a politician, but Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu is so smart and would be a great any kind of elected official. Run Rehka, run!

A Latino/a Breaks the Glass Ceiling

Currently the highest serving Latina/o elected in Iowa history is Scott County Recorder Rita Vargas. And if the ratio of population matched elected positions, 5.3% of all elected officials would be Latino/a, instead of just eight. So who will be the one to finally crack the code? I’d put stock on Maria Bribriesco who is running for IA SD 47 to do it. She has enormous obstacles to confront, and any victory will be tighter than a Vegas slot machine, but Bribriesco earned a lot of local name recognition in her race against Linda Miller in 2012, and her foray into the race for the corresponding Senate District increases the likelihood as its demographic is a bit friendlier to Democrats. Plus, her biography is proof that with hard work and progressive government policies, the American Dream is still possible. Her down-to-earth personality also balances her intimidating career as an attorney for the Rock Island Arsenal and makes her immediately likeable at the door.

Branstad and GOP Legislators Push for Pension Reform

And some weak-in-the-knees Democrats will cave because they drink the Kool Aid pushed by right-wing think tanks despite actuarial evidence that IPERS remains among the strongest pensions in the country. At this point, there is no public clamoring for pension reform, but Branstad will use Illinois and Michigan as strawmen to demand reform. Cities, which will be cash-strapped thanks to property tax rollbacks passed last session, will have some legitimacy to complain here. But the answer isn’t to fix that bad legislation with another piece of bad legislation.  I can’t make a prediction on how the dust will settle on this, only a warning that we all need to lobby hard to honor our seniors and public servants and protect ourselves against the continued erosion of all our retirement benefits, from pensions, ripped off 401Ks as well as national attacks against Social Security.

Smart Watches THE New Fashion Rage

I personally think these gadgets that pair with your smart phone are suh-weet, and I want one but cannot afford it since they are so pricey. So like the Kindle, I’m predicting that soon the technology will race ahead and costs will plummet, then we can all become “that” person, annoyingly talking to our wrists in public.

Another 500-year Environmental Disaster

This is a terrible prediction, and I don’t mean to be a fatalist, but the increased occurrence of severe weather events makes this almost inevitable. Question is, how many 500 year storms, F5 tornadoes, and billions of dollars in severe weather event damage until climate change deniers pull their heads out of their asses and take responsibility? Maybe we should recruit folks in the insurance industry who will soon go broke from all their payouts to lobby with us.

EPA Enforces New CAFO Restrictions

Due to failures by the state legislature and the Branstad Administration to pass meaningful regulatory reform, the national EPA will enforce clean water protections against the explosive growth of industrial hog operations and increased manure spills from irresponsible CAFO owners. Federal regulatory framework exists, Congress just hasn’t funded it adequately. I’m hoping Obama starts to flaunt his Executive Branch authority more now that he has no future election prospects to plague him. Perhaps he’ll also have been emboldened by the usually trepid Harry Reid’s exciting but long overdue filibuster reform in the Senate.

Heroin Continues Spread Across the State

Another Debbie-downer prediction. I don’t mean to be depressing, but this is a deadly issue that is spreading across the state and not talking about it won’t stop this. Heroin’s cheap cost and extraordinary addictiveness will make meth look like candy. Heroin addiction is an epidemic related to increased poverty and marginalization, and unless the state reverses the trend of downward wages, and incarceration-as-answer-to-poverty, more people will be swallowed up by hopelessness. Please read about the damage being done in Waterloo here.

Schultz Will Lose

Whatever race he runs. He’s sure to lose Secretary of State now that his banner cause – Voter Fraud – has proven to be largely a ruse. If he chooses to run for IA CD3, he’ll lose there as well. Sorry, but the shelf-life on some one-trick politician ponies is very short.

Steve King Implodes

Allright, I admit this is purely aspirational, not predicated on any Nate Silver-esque methodology, but how long can one live under the pressure of so much hate and bigotry: Immigrant calves the size of cantaloupes? Hilary a communist? Electric fences to zap immigrants the way we do errant cattle? I’ve never personally heard of an incest rape victim getting pregnant, so the verdict is still out if that’s possible.

There’s always the chance that King will accidentally find himself on a tour of 3rd world poverty (found in spades right here in the US) with a bunch of Quakers whose kindness cures him of his hate.

You may say I’m a dreamer…but I’m not the only one.

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