The Year That Was

“Look back and learn.” – The Lonely Realist

The end of December provides the opportunity for perspective on TLR‘s posts during the expiring year:

At the very beginning of 2023, TLR reported that Congressman Earl Carter (R GA) had introduced the Fair Tax Act of 2023, proposing to repeal the Internal Revenue Code and abolish the IRS, replacing Federal taxes with a Value Added Tax of ~30%. TLR was not a fan. How to revise America’s terribly flawed Federal tax system will become a subject of debate in 2024 and a matter of urgency in 2025 when the #Trump tax cuts sunset, yet perceptive commentators like John Mauldin recognize that the time to begin discussion is now. TLR favors the Competitive Tax Plan drafted by tax experts rather than politically-inspired and impractical proposals like the Fair Tax Act.

Notably, the #COVID pandemic was not a TLR topic during 2023. Pandemic fever came to an end in 2022 when the virus mutated into a milder, flu-like variant.

TLR reported in April that “by every measure and employing any number of standards, America’s education system is failing.” That trend continues.

Americans continued to be confronted in 2023 by Executive Branch excess some of which crosses the line into unConstitutionality. That excess found echoes in Judicial Branch public relations pronouncements that made a mockery of the Rule of Law and Congressional inaction that belittled democracy. Whether these are indications that America is evolving devolving evolving devolving towards the centralized decision-making processes that characterize China, TLR questioned whether the courts and Congress will permit such a slide: Will the Executive Branch continue overreaching without judicial limitations?; Will the Judicial Branch’s excesses exemplified by the Supreme Court’s farcical and ethics-less self-regulatory exercise continue?; And will Congress’s uncivil warfare, demonstrated by 2023’s increasingly polarized, do-nothing House of Representatives, red flag the historical parallels to the 1860s and 1930s?

Antisemitism returned for the umpteenth time after Hamas’s blood-letting of October 7th, and TLR used that 2000+ year-old reminder to point out that the spewing of explicit hate and hate-violence provides an opportunity for addressing what otherwise would remain insidious and ever more dangerous. The blatant 2023 anti-Jewish attacks that followed from the Gaza War focused attention on the underpinnings of #antisemitism, revealing how latent hatreds have festered and captivated extremists on the left – most clearly at American colleges where oppression and oppressors have become simplistic buzzwords for antisemitic justification – and extremists on the right – without widespread condemnation of Charlottesville in 2017 or antisemitic sloganeering by white supremacists. It is hoped that 2023’s increased sunshine will reveal those innate prejudices and be instrumental in defusing them.

Americans in 2023 began confronting their rejection that America, indeed, is at war …, war that is escalating. America’s enemies – the Axis of the Sanctioned — have been taking aggressive actions against America for many years and on multiple levels. It was only over the last several years that America’s government began paying attention to the two-decade+ string of American foreign policy failures. Unfortunately, 2023 revealed that it may be too late. It is entirely possible that the erosion of America’s hegemonic authority cannot be reversed.

Americans’ focus during 2023 remained “It’s The Economy, Stupid.” This past year brought surprisingly positive economic news: waning #inflation, a robust economy, an increasing belief in a “soft landing,” and an exuberant stock market. Will 2024 continue “immaculate inflation” and a growing GDP or will there be unpleasant economic surprises? The failure in March of Silicon Valley Bank was a mere bump in 2023’s upward climb, levitation that was no surprise to TLR commentator Cassandra. SVB did not presage an economic apocalypse. Today, there is every expectation that the Federal Reserve will continue to do “whatever it takes” to support America’s economy in the coming election year.

”Newsy news” in 2023 included the payment by Fox News of ~$800 million in settlement of a defamation lawsuit launched by Dominion Voting Systems that confirmed the unpleasant reality that news today too-often is entertainment masquerading as fact. The Fox settlement confirmed that self-labeled news outlets are unlikely to find legal protection from bad acts through reliance on First Amendment protections afforded the “free press.”

A debate that raged in government and academic circles during 2023 was whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a “civilization risk” that should be countered by stringent government regulation or instead should be treated with hands-off respect because of its ability to improve the human condition. AI news during 2023 focused largely on financial events at OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT.

Looking to the future, TLR notes that Cassandra predicts that 2024 may provide America with a new Taylor Swift mega-hit, “Why I Hate Travis Kelce.”

TLR Index

An index of TLR titles can be found here.

Finally (from a good friend)

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