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Another New Year is Upon Us

December 27, 2017
BY CHUCK CLEGG - Columnist , Wetzel Chronicle

If you are like me, the thought of another year passing is hard to believe. And the reality is, in just a few days, 2018 will be upon us. The calendar year of 2017 will just become another page in the history of each of our lives.

Sunday night, millions around the world, will welcome the New Year. Perhaps you will open a bottle of champagne and make a toast to the New Year. Or, perhaps you will don a funny hat and make a loud noise with a party horn. Mary and myself, we will wait up and watch the crystal ball in Time Square drop. I'll give her a kiss, and we will be grateful we are spending another New Year's together.

As I have gotten older, I appreciate the fact that crossing the threshold of a new year is a good thing. I am not talking about hanging a new calendar, or reminding myself, when I sign and date something, to get the year correct. No, I am speaking of the prospects of being part of that new year. I will begin to plan for this year's garden. That planning will be sparked by the arrival of multiple seed catalogs. Looking through the colorful pages of flowers and fruits makes me think of warm spring days and spending time on my tractor, working the ground.

My grandson Cameron reminded me, during his Thanksgiving visit, he will be 16 in the upcoming year. He then pointed out that soon he will be driving with his learner's permit. For him, this will be the year he begins to spread his wings and become part of the world. Having a driver's license is a rite of passage for most young people, and I am sure my grandson will be no different. It has been 52 years since I first held my driver's license in my hand. My first thought, when I gained my license, was to earn enough to buy a car. Which I did, for $125.

For some people, they will probably make a plan for the upcoming year. Lose weight is always a popular plan. Another, is start to save some money. Saving is always a sound idea for your future. There are others that plan to get a new job, and that job will enable them to buy a home or their first new car. They can almost sense the smell of that new car's interior. Big plans and high hopes for the New Year.

But, I would have to believe, for most of us, we will take the new year one day at a time. The bad thing, about the coming of the New Year, is the first couple of months must be gotten through. January and February can be the most depressing months of the year. Often they are cold and dark, and getting outside is sometimes difficult. Even walking to the mail box, to gather your mail, becomes a dash to prevent the cold from penetrating your bones. Starting off the New Year in these two months is a downer right out of the gate.

On the far side of the world, in Australia, they begin the New Year in the middle of their summer. Outside parties with friends and cooking shrimp on the barbie has to be a good way to start a new year. Then I think about, if seasons were reversed, how it would not be so much fun to celebrate the Fourth of July in a winter coat and snow boots. I guess we'll leave the seasons alone for now.

In 2017, many parts of our country saw damage from storms and wildfires. In the south, hurricanes brought unimaginable damage to lives and homes that will never be the same for those affected. Last January, Mary and I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Caribbean and the wonders of those tropical islands. In the aftermath of the storms, we saw the devastation on television and the terrible loss to the people on those small islands. Although the islands were a tropical paradise to tourists like us, to the many people who lived on those islands, it is simply home. Now much of that is gone. For the vast majority of those people, their homes were made of concrete blocks with little or no yards. They lived a simple life by our standards. Now the storms of 2017 has robbed them of the few things they had in this world.

The coming of a New Year is welcomed by those in this country who have started to rebuild their lives from the storms and flooding of last summer. They can only hope that 2018 will be a better year than the last. As we in the east welcome the New Year, in the west smoke still rises from destroyed homes that were lost in the recent fires that still burn.

2017 has brought good news for those who have retirement funds in the stock market. For the first time since 2008, those with retirement funds can breathe a little easier with the coming New Year. For me, I am optimistic, but also a realist? At some point the market will most likely correct itself. 2018 may be the year it pulls back some of the profits. 2017 has seen the market rise mostly on the hopes that things are getting better. For business and banking it has. And if you were looking for work, there is a good chance you may have found it. But the key to long-term stability is with the middle class in our country. Jobs have grown, but wages have not kept up with inflation. Each day, we hear about automation and how it helped to improve industrial production. I can't help but believe, for every story of automation, there are families who lost good paying jobs. A robotic assembly machine does not buy a car or home. Nor do computerized controlled equipment send kids to school.

From the year 1950 to 2000, the growth rate for jobs was 1.9 percent. Projected growth rate from 2000 to 2050 is 0.6 percent. The U.S. population in 1950 was 132 million. In 2016 it was 323 million. Projected population of the United States in 2050, 438 million. We can only hope in the year 2018 the growth of income and jobs can exceed the projections. If it doesn't with the growth rate of our country, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people. Politicians in Washington are trying to sell us a bright future, but with the population increase, not everyone who is looking for a future job will find one. The foundation of our country is built on good paying jobs. Politicians talk a good game. Let's hope 2018 is the year they quit worrying about promoting their political parties and remember they are in Washington to represent the best interest of the country, not major campaign contributors.

Each of us will most likely make a New Year's Resolution. I hope those resolutions will include a little hope and prosperity for our country. From the staff at the Wetzel Chronicle, Mary and myself we wish you all a "Happy New Year," as we look forward Through the Lens.



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