A Zoom call came through last week from the new kid, 2021. He was hurrying to get going with his Year.

“Aren’t you a little young to be on your own?” I said.

“I’m twelve,” he responded. “We’re all twelve when we start, all born in January the year before our name. Folks let cartoons dominate their thinking about the annual hand-off.”

“Even so, twelve?” I questioned.

“From 12 to 24 is the best age. You’re old enough to know better from worse. You’re open to change, spontaneous and trusting, energetic and creative,” he insisted.

“What happens to 2020 after his awful year?” I asked.

“Her,” he corrected me. “Even-numbered years are monitored by females. Yeah, she had a tough time, and look at the mess she left me.”

“You can’t hold 2020 responsible for her year,” I said. “What we endured was the result of neglect over decades.”

“Exactly,” he agreed. “The world’s not better off for its experiences. Virtually every country suffers greater disorder than when 2020 took over.

“Nevertheless, we should have learned from the past not to support authoritarian government. In 2020 we saw clearly how nations neglected public health in the past in favor of vanity medicine.

“We wouldn’t have those mass protests, if we learned from the ‘60s and removed prejudicial racial practices earlier. Forest fires, major storms, and other environmental damage result from our acceptance of stubborn ignorance.”

“And you, 2021, are going to put us on the road to a more perfect world?” I dripped sarcasm.

“I’ll do what I can,” he mumbled with the confidence and humility of youth. “I’ll reinforce the progress we’ve made in using data to make decisions.”

“Here in Indiana?” I asked.

“Indeed,” 2021 responded. “I’m want Indiana to shed its reputation as a haven for the numerically challenged.”

“You mean,” I jumped in, “coming up with erroneous Covid stats by averaging daily averages instead of using the original data for the full week? The Department of Health hardly blushed from that one.”

“Yes,” he confirmed, “plus the Department of Local Government Finance using 2019 data on public assistance and combining it with 2010 population figures to produce meaningless per capita numbers.”

“So tell me what happens to 2020 when you take over,” I asked again.

“She becomes an historian,” he answered. “She’ll spend years linking with earlier times, discovering the under-reported events of her year, making connections that eluded everyone at the time, confirming trends and dismissing contemporary theories.”

“Aren’t there more important things to consider?” I challenged.

“Look, Bozo,” he declared, “we’re a product of the past. What we don’t know about how we arrived where we are, limits our ability to change in a positive direction.”

That did it. I’m not going to be lectured by a 12-year-old who’s only a year away from being 24. I left the Zoom meeting.

Morton Marcus is an economist. Reach him at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com. Follow his views and those of John Guy on Who gets what? wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com

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