9 Things That Will Make 2014 So Much Fun

Happy New YearWith no disrespect to Nostradamus, or anyone else who claims to be able to predict the future, I simply don’t believe anyone can know for sure what will happen until it does. There are some things however, which are already in the works and if they happen as planned, they will make 2014 one of the more interesting years in a while and mark a turning point in our history to come.

1. Love me some me

With Facebook no longer being the place for the cool kids to hang out, there is plenty of room for Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ Snapchat and others to grow. Facebook still dominates the market, but now that our parents and grandparents are playing too, some of the naughty pleasure has left. Thanks to the self-indulgent selfie and the number of mobile devices that exceed the total population, there will be more opportunities to share just how in love we are with our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who post “the best meal I’ve had….ever!” and complains no one has anything of substance to offer. I say, post it all and then post some more – I love it!

 2. DIY small business

Despite the politically motivated forecasts of gloom and doom for small businesses, Americans are ever entrepreneurial spirits. Those who have been dissolutioned by how expendable they were in the corporate world and finding fewer and fewer options for comparable incomes, are learning how to market themselves and deciding to place their eggs in their own baskets. Finding and using the same tools and strategies the big boys use is becoming easier and cheaper. With 70% of the American workforce disengaged from their workplace, companies are finding it difficult to create the flexible and creative work environments that the millennial workforce will demand. Creativity and independence of thought are on the way back.

3. 60 is the new 30

According to researchers at Harvard University, people are living healthier, not just longer. Thanks to medical advancements, people are adding more quality years to their lives. What are they doing with their added years? They are traveling, finding new adventures, finding new careers or starting new business. They are also finding new relationships; there are at least a dozen dating sites aimed specifically at the senior market. It’s not unusual to see several sexagenarians working alongside millennials in a host of fields. Workers in their sixties bring an abundance of valuable work and life experiences into the workplace and no longer are they the doddering, forgetful codgers they have been portrayed as over the past fifty years. Some companies are embracing this renewed and loyal resource and their companies are benefitting.

 4. New minimums

Come January 1, 13 states will raise the minimum wage above the federal standard within their own borders. While Congress aborted its duty and reneged on its promise to constituents, at least some states recognize the need for workers’ pay to keep pace with the rising cost of…well…everything. For those retail and fast-food workers who went on strike this past year, it seems as if someone was paying attention. There is still hope that Congress will be pushed into raising the federal minimum wage by Democrats looking to find votes during the mid-term elections.

 5. Obama-care’s real test

Forget how it was rolled out, don’t fret over the problems with the website and the prediction of Armageddon, the fact is, people are enrolling – and at a faster rate than initially reported.  The real test will be when people begin finding out if they got what they thought they got. The most potential for harm will come in the form of the “Employer mandate” where companies who have 50 or more employees will have to pay $2,000 per employer in fines if they do not provide health-care coverage. This has always been a tough sell to small businesses, so much so that enforcing the rule was delayed until 2015. The question of whether it would be cheaper to pay the fine is simple, but finding the right answer is as complex as each company’s bottom line. Aside from the actual dollar costs, one would also have to factor in the loss of human talent if a company decides not to offer health-care when their competition does. The other big test will rest on the backs of those families that live in states when their governors and lawmakers decided to forego billions of dollars and declined to expand Medicare, thus leaving millions of poor Americans uninsured. Most people who have never had insurance, or have been relatively healthy may not have had experienced being denied treatment due to a preexisting condition. They may not know what it is to go into crushing debt when a child gets sick or hurt and they no longer were qualified to be on their parents’ insurance. When my sister was diagnosed with cancer, she became virtually uninsurable outside of what an employer would offer. Even with that, the medical costs swallowed everything she worked her entire life earning. When the AIDs became an epidemic it was because nearly everyone knew someone who was affected by the disease. I’m willing to bet that there are even more people who know someone who has been affected by a lack of or less than adequate health insurance.

 6. Finger pointing

Aaahhh, the mid-term elections, though not as exciting as when there’s a Presidential seat up for grabs, but expect this to be year to have more fireworks than normal. The Congress is coming off its worst year ever and its behavior only fueled the mistrust and cynicism of its constituency. The members did nothing to overcome a crippled and sluggish economy; did nothing to reign in the abuses of over-reaching national security agencies; did nothing to balance the shrinking status of the middle class against the backdrop of obscene corporate profits; did nothing to strengthen the safety of our food and water; did nothing to reduce the U.S. energy dependence on foreign sources, and did absolutely nothing to justify their $174,000 average annuals salaries. But still it should be fun to watch the blame game in full effect; I imagine it will be something like Jake Blues explaining why he never showed up at the altar.


 7. There’s what in that salad?

Its one thing to find out that the McRib is made out of something other than ribs, but knowing that foods that we thought were safe and healthy, like corn, tomatoes and lettuce is being routinely genetically altered is frightening. Especially considering that more than 60 countries (the U.S. not among them) have significantly restricted or outright banned the imports; couple that with fact that several of the nation’s top food manufacturers, drug companies, and chemicals manufacturers spent $22 million in Washington State in order to avoid labeling foods which contained GMOs (genetically modified organisms) makes me uncomfortable about what they’re hiding. No one can say for sure what the long term effects GMOs will have, but it should be noted that the leading producer of GMO seeds is Monsanto, the company which makes the weed-killer Roundup possible, the company which brought us Agent Orange, PCBs and DDT, yes, that Monsanto. If you are unfamiliar with GMOs, these three links should help explain:




There are other companies however, and their plan is to spend money to lobby politicians into keeping bills – which you will likely never hear of – from becoming law. The good news is that 2014 shapes up to be the year that more information and awareness about GMOs comes to light and the real debate can begin.

 8. TV and movies

Just to show that I don’t spend all my time on serious subjects I thought I’d share my anticipations for the upcoming year in TV binging. I still haven’t seen the last season of Breaking Bad; I’m waiting until I can watch the entire thing nonstop. By then I can get started with new series featuring Saul Goodman, the adorably felonious lawyer from the BB show. Netflix gave us two outstanding original series, House of Cards and the surprisingly addictive Orange is the new Black; love me some Jenji Kohan, I’m looking forward to gobbling on both. My guy friends tell me I should be all about the Game of Thrones, but I haven’t gotten there yet, not that I don’t think it’s a good show, it’s just that the mostly that they try to sell me on the medieval humping….not that there’s anything wrong with that; maybe this year will be the year. I can binge on moves as well, but that’s harder to do in theaters these days. I am looking forward to the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending, because there’s yet to be a film, which has had the same feel and promise of The Matrix, even its sequels….maybe this will be the one.

9. High times

I wonder if residents and legislators in Washington state and Colorado knew they were about to become the test laboratories for America’s experiment with legalized recreational marijuana. After decades of dwelling within the social subculture, there can finally be some practical conversations about the potential benefits and risks of smoking pot. As a child of the seventies, I could right these moves off, as “the man” finally getting around to taxing something they can’t stop and that some people will continue to do simply because it makes them feel good. For those who are against drug use of any kind, you needn’t worry, we are a long way from legalized marijuana sweeping the nation, but we will be closer in 2014 than we are now and just as some people suspect about health-care, once the genie is out of the bottle….there’s no going back.


~ Richard



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