After the wringer we went through in 2016, it’s only human nature to worry about a horrible 2017.
There will be plenty of time to be pessimistic, for reality to set in. On New Year’s Day, let’s be hopeful instead. Some items on our hope list:
▪ California’s five-year drought ends. Or at least eases its grip. A series of storms replenished reservoirs, which hold twice as much water as this time last year. But the Sierra snowpack is still far below average and many groundwater basins are low. We need a wet and snowy January and February, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
▪ The economy keeps humming along. The U.S. unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in November was the lowest since August 2007. Maybe employers will keep hiring, especially for full-time jobs with benefits. Until the last few days, the stock market has been surging to record highs, with the Dow Jones industrial average flirting with 20,000. It’d be nice if the stock rally, a windfall for big investors, also benefits working families and the vast majority of Americans without investment portfolios.
▪ We have a boom in affordable housing. California’s shortage means that too many people can’t live near where good jobs are, and that a home is a pipe dream for many young families. We need a wide range of housing options for the homeless and safe lofts for artists so we never have another Ghost Ship fire.
▪ There’s justice and peace around police shootings. After the rash of killings of unarmed black men and the resulting protests, maybe we’ll start seeing the fruit of all the efforts in Sacramento and across the nation toward more training of officers, more transparency to the public and more communication between police departments and communities. We also can’t forget officers killed in the line of duty, and hope for far fewer than the 2016 toll of 135, the most in five years, including 64 officers shot to death. Yes, Blue Lives and Black Lives Matter.
▪ New laws work as intended. As usual, lots of legislation takes effect with the new year. The statewide minimum wage for larger businesses will increase to $10.50 an hour, on its way to $15. We hope our roads will be safer with new laws requiring kids under two years old to be in rear-facing seats and a ban on handling cellphones while driving for any reason. We also hope lane-splitting motorcyclists follow the new safety rules.
▪ Sacramento’s riverfront becomes vibrant. New Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s to-do list is long, but it would boost for the entire region if he can start transforming Sacramento’s side of the river into a destination. The booming West Sacramento riverfront is a reminder of what can be accomplished – and of how little has been done on the other side.
▪ President-elect Donald Trump isn’t as bad as many fear. Though it gets more difficult to be optimistic with each questionable Cabinet pick and ill-considered tweet, maybe our new president will really “make America great again” – although we’re among those who believe it already was great. If he creates more jobs, fixes Obamacare and makes a dent in our infrastructure crisis, most Americans will be pleased. If he oversteps his authority, we hope that Congress and courts will keep Trump in check.
▪ Our nation becomes kinder and gentler. Just maybe, we got a lot of the nastiness and vitriol out of our systems during the 2016 election. We can hope there’s less flaming and shaming online, as incoming first lady Melania Trump urges, and more civil conversation in our communities.
▪ Newspapers make a comeback. Seeking to capitalize on a backlash against “fake news,” some have added subscribers since the election. Chief among them is The Washington Post, which recently announced plans to add some 60 journalists – nearly unheard of these days. Papers across the country – including The Sacramento Bee – continue their transition into the new digital world.
▪ The Sacramento Kings return to the playoffs. They’re winning more lately, have a key stretch of home games in January and are in the playoff hunt nearly halfway into the season. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, so how great would it be if the woebegone franchise breaks through in the first season at Golden 1 Center. Do we dare imagine that if the lowly Kings have a series against the Golden State Warriors, they win a game, even two?
Like we said, this is a time to be hopeful.