The good news is that it's a bit shorter than most years. It ends on December 21st, rather than on the usual date ten days later. Or so the Mayan calendar suggests, since that's the day the calendar ends upon.
Somewhere around here I have a World Almanac for 1966 which I've kept all this time because it recounts the glorious World Series win by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Minnesota Twins. Yes, I probably should get professional help for that. But here's the thing: the calendar section there ends on December 31st, 1967. Did the world actually come to an end then, and the Nixon years were just a bit of post-ectoplasmic tummyache?
The end of the world should cause something of an economic boomlet where I live. You see, I'm at the foot of a holy mountain, which is why my thoughts and philosophies are so superior to yours. A lot of people want to die at the foot of the holy mountain, and couldn't be bothered just waiting for it to erupt. So they come here to die and get translated or transdimensionalized or some such, do the ascension thing and become masters. Being at the foot of the holy mountain gives them a leg up on all that, you see. It's like having a “sale special id number” for one of those online computer shopping places. You get the Tuesday special, reincarnation with three eggs instead of two. Some people call them “seekers.” Others call them “woos.”
The end of the world isn't exactly a new thing in these parts. We had a nice turnout for the triple zero celebrations the year before the millennium actually ended, and not only did we fail to get a celestial chorus of ascended masters, but the lights stayed on. Our visitors all sighed in quiet disappointment and went home to see if their former apartments had been rented out yet or not. Before that it was the grand planetary alignment and before that, a variety of other Grand Finale Events. As a result, the locals have learned how to gouge the seekers lightly and wear sincere expressions of disappointment when the sun comes up the next day. No refunds, but lots of free sympathy.
My wife wonders why the seekers don't riot and lynch the prophet who persuaded them to give away all their worldly goods, and, when you consider the number of riots that follow major sporting events, it's a reasonable thing to wonder about. Why don't they get mad?
They hardly ever do. Even the really radically toxic ones like those cults in San Diego and Quebec, or the Jim Jones people in Guyana commit mass suicide BEFORE the promised Event, not after. And the spiritual seekers we get here aren't the suiciding type. This lot avoid colors that they associate with base emotions such as anger or fear. Suicide or rage definitely interferes with the harmonic flow of the chakras.
There was some nutball preacher who predicted the end of the world on a couple of different occasions this past year, and when the end failed to materialize, a lot of his followers had second thoughts about giving away all their worldly possessions. They didn't even give them to the preacher, who, while a nut, was apparently a sincere nut. One of the followers actually filed suit after the second go-around, and that's about the first I've heard of any sort of retaliation against these nickel and dime prophets. I guess the suit is for fraud, and the plaintiff's lawyers are going to have a hell of a time proving it in court.
I had a good friend who was kind of the bull goose woo for these parts. I remember he turned 80 in early 2008, and confided to me that he was slowing down and didn't know how many years he had left. I pointed out that he was just going to have to stick around for another nearly five years until the end of 2012, just to see how it all turned out. He was pretty tickled with that, especially since he knew that I was thoroughly unimpressed with all the talk about 2012. Unfortunately, he died in late November of that year, during a monster – and highly unseasonable – thunderstorm. It was a nice dramatic way to go, one that I'm sure met with his approval. I like to think that before he died, he took time to imagine the expression on my face when the great planetary ascension rolled around. Such thoughts cost me nothing, and may have given him some amusement.
In the more toxic arena of American politics, the great universal shift is on election day, of course. That's when the good guy is elected and the baddies vanquished. Doesn't matter which party you belong to; you know people who see it in exactly those terms. There are those who cry “It doesn't matter! The game is rigged!” and they are met with the same indulgent condescension as a five year old declaring his disbelief in Santa. That it's generally true just ensures that it will be widely dismissed.
Barring political seismic shifts on the level of the Fukushima earthquake, Obama will be reelected. But that's about the only event where you won't find lots of room for doubt.
The Occupy Movement shows that a massive shift in the public mood is taking place. For the first time in fifty years, the public is beginning to realize that, far from being the leaders and saviours of the American economy, Wall Street are just parasites. And that is a shift that has repercussions throughout the entire American psyche, which has been carefully trained to shy away from any thoughts that smell of class warfare. An entire generation grew up considering Will Rogers to be a bitter hayseed who resented the success of the job producers. Fifty years of television convinced people that the average American family lived in a four bedroom two story home on half an acre that was immaculate and had modern furniture. If you didn't have that, it just meant you weren't trying hard enough.
That fantasy was never very believable to begin with, and with the entitled class making its move to steal the remaining money of the vast majority of the American people, it has collapsed.
What will be on people's minds when they vote in November? Will they look at their Republican incumbent and consider him an exception in the widely-hated Congress, or will they realize that he's a big part of the problem and dump his ass? People will vote their pocketbooks, but will they be voting for Tommy Douglas's square mousehole?
I was amused to see that Tommy's famous class-warfare speech, “Mousetown” has gained popularity on Usenet, redone in 2006 with an introduction by his grandson, Keifer Sutherland. That Americans would be viewing—and largely agreeing with – such a blatantly socialist speech would have been unthinkable as recently as 2006. Occupy has changed how many people view their society.
The economy is going to be a big player. Left to its own devices, the US economy would continue a slow and unsteady recovery, peaking out at a mediocre level sometime in 2014. Jobs would still be poor-paying, and of course American workers would have even fewer job-site rights than do their counterparts in China. The middle class would keep right on disintegrating, and Republicans would continue to hammer away at health care reform, Medicare, Social Security, and just about anything else that gave average Americans a decent standard of living. The rich, being rich, deserve to steal it from us.
But the world economy is continuing to gyrate wildly, a drunk staggering on the edge of a cliff. The Eurozone is in perpetual crisis, and economists point to China's GINI (the measure of the disparity between haves and have-nots) and warn of imminent collapse, either though over-condensation of wealth, or public revolt. These same economists carefully avoid mentioning that America's GINI has fallen to the same level as China's.
The cruelest element of the national grab by the entitled class is the effect it's having on those on welfare, the unemployed, and the poorly employed. Food prices increased 50% over the past 18 months, and the number of Americans on food stamps increased from one in ten in 2007 to one in six now. The GOP response is to cut funding for food stamps by 20% this year. This means that people who were barely feeding their kids month to month will now find the larders empty by about the 20th of each month. Would you like to be the one to tell these people that they need to only feed their kids two days out of three so plutocrats making over a million a year can keep their minuscule little 3% tax cut? Or that money for job training is gone because of revenue lost subsidizing companies that send American jobs overseas?
Big things are in movement in America today, items that swamp the usual political and social guidelines. The woos might be wrong about the trans-dimensional aspects of 2012, but the domestic political scene might make for a fairly good substitute.
Next year, more than any other in our lives, will be totally different at the end from when it begins.
You can take that to the bank.
Assuming, of course, that any banks still survive by next December 21st 2012.