2023 Challenges, Are you part of the solution, part of the problem or sitting on the sidelines.
by Doyle Ranstrom on Jan 2, 2023
In 2023 each of us will have our personal and family blessings and challenges. 2023, like any other year, will be an opportunity to address our societal challenges or problems. Following I have listed some of those challenges which I believe have effected our country and will continue to do so. They have and will continue to social costs along with personal costs. In no particular order:
- We have watched multiple Natural Disasters hit the US in 2022. 2022 was not an exception, its part of a trend. In the 1980s there were 28 Billion dollar natural disaster events for a total cost of $127.7 Billion. That increased each decade with 2010-2019 having 119 Billion dollar events for a total cost of $802.2 Billion. This decade is off to setting a new decade record. This is not good. There are National and social financial consequences. But there also personal financial consequences which I will discuss at a later time.
- In 2000 the Federal Deficit was $5.7 Trillion. At the end of 2020 it was $27.7 Trillion. Keep in mind Republicans who I fondly call the "borrow and spend" party, were in control of the Presidency and both parts of Congress the majority of these years. Since 2020, the deficit has increased to over $31 Trillion. When any one member of political party blames the other party for the Federal Deficit, I know the individual speaks with a forked tongue or in biblical terms, bears false witness. Though clearly the borrow and spend party have more responsibility the past 20+ years because at least the tax and spend party understands that if spending is increasing, then revenue needs to increase also. But it's really our fault. The increasing federal deficit is like peeing in one's pants, feels good at the time, but ultimately neither feels good or works. There are multiple ways we an increase federal revenue other than simply increasing income tax. The fiscal policy for the last 20+ years has been "charge it and send the bills to kids and grandkids".
- In 2022, the CDC said that gun violence was the number one cause of death for children, ages 0-19, in the US. A civilized society which does not protect its children, is neither civilized or moral. Over 45,000 Americans died in 2020 from gun related injuries. A Harvard Medical School study found the total cost was $557 Billion annually. Ultimately the US will regulate some parts of the gun industry, but until that day comes, given our increasing deficit and the costs of gun violence, we need to immediately enact National and State legislation which covers all the costs of gun violence and/or injuries in the US. We as a country can no longer afford to subsidize the gun industry.
- There are two ways at looking at health care costs, as an individual or household out-of-pocket cost of their health care and the per capital cost of health care for a society or country. The individual/household cost can vary dramatically, the per capita cost of health care is the US is about $12,500. The next closes country is Switzerland at $7,000+. The per capital cost of health care in Canada is about 50% of the US. The per capital cost of health care in the US is not sustainable. Fortunately, there are many ways we can reduce the costs of health care in the US. More on this at a later time, but one last thought. If you are on Medicare, you're Medicare premiums past for 15% of the total cost Medicare. Workers payroll taxes pay for 34%, and the balance is paid from General Revenues or income taxes. Again, not sustainable.
- When I started doing my "Long Term Trends" presentations, one of the trends I discussed was demographics. Specifically, three trends, increasing global population, aging population in the US, and declining percentages of non-hispanic whites. The world's population just surpassed 8 Billion. It was 1.65 Billion in 1900 at the turn of the century. This dramatic increase in population presents all types of challenges. An aging population means many things, including less working people [age 65 and younger] supporting more retired people [age 65 and older]. The White Nationalistic movement is driven by a number of factors, but chief of them in my estimation is many whites are afraid of living in a society where they are not the majority. This has led to numerous acts of racism including violence.
- A CDC study in 2022 found that 22.5% of the HS students polled identified as gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. Previously, CDC had published a 3-year study found that LGBT students were much more likely to be bullied, threatened or injured by a weapon, and much more likely to have attempted suicide than students who identified as straight.
All the above challenges are addressable. None of them will be solvable in 2023, but we as a country in 2023 can work towards addressing them in a positive manner or making them worse. It's a choice.
Everything I have mentioned above is factual. Each of the events above are not coming, they are happening. I will write more about each of them along with other trends.
After my Long Term Trends presentation I have been told it's depressing. I get the comment, but do not agree. Depressing is when a society looks the other way when children are being shot at school. Depressing is also children who do not conform to someone's definition of normal are harassed and bullied at schools. Depressing is electing politicians who watch our country being continually hit by all types of natural disasters and pretend its not happening or simply normal. It is happening and it is not normal.
Make 2023 a good year. Enjoy time with family friends, or for some of us, simply being by our self. A combination of all three is often a good mix. Appreciate all the blessings live has to offer. At the same time, we have multiple challenges as a society. That is always the case. In 2023, you can be a positive force for addressing problems, negative, or simply sit on the sidelines and hope nothing affects you, your family or friends. My number one priory going forward is the same as it has been the past few years, be an advocate for my grandchildren until they are old enough to be their own advocates.