There’s an old Chinese saying: “May you live in interesting times.” It sounds like a blessing but in reality, it’s a curse. If you’re on the fence about that, all you’ve got to do is look back at some of the biggest stories of 2013.
I dare you to peruse these revelations and tell me it wasn’t an interesting year – and not in a good way.
In Washington, lying has become an art form. President Obama on Obamacare: “If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it.” Hilary Clinton and Susan Rice blaming the Benghazi embassy attack on a YouTube video. The BS is so deep inside the beltway I can’t believe it doesn’t stop traffic.
The NSA spies on people. Yes, that is sarcasm, but was that really a news flash? Sure, the NSA Prism program is concerning, but so far, there’s no evidence that any laws were broken. Edward Snowden, on the other hand, breached national security, revealed secrets to our enemies, and fled the country. That puts him right up there with Bradley Manning and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, in my book.
We are officially a “minority rules” nation. Political correctness is the new golden rule. Thousands of selfish, whiny, thin-skinned, entitled minority and special interest groups now get their way by threatening, bullying, and extorting corporations, small businesses, and government entities. And it works because executives and business leaders are more interested in covering their you-know-whats than serving their stakeholders. The A&E Duck Dynasty controversy was the latest, but it certainly won’t be the last.
You can fool all the media, all the time. There are several factors that together made America the greatest nation on Earth and one of them is a skeptical media that questions leaders and reports the truth. This year, the media got so many things wrong it isn’t funny. And the combination of lying politicians and journalists that accept it as verbatim is terrifying.
Outsourcing all those manufacturing jobs really did screw up our economy. I’m going to fall on my sword on this one. As a former veteran of the high-tech industry, I didn’t see how the new economy where we focused on intellectual capital and outsourced manufacturing would mess things up. My bad.
Climate change isn’t the problem; renewable energy is. Pervasive groupthink has an entire planet going bananas over anything green, clean, and renewable. Meanwhile, our ability to boost the economy and become energy independent has been hamstrung by energy policies and regulations based on myth and pseudoscience.
Smart phones don’t make people smart. A lot of people think smart phones are making us dumb. They all have it wrong. Technology is smart – it’s people that are dumb. Remember all the hoopla over hate-speech on Facebook? Everyone blamed Facebook. Nobody blamed those who actually posted all the hateful and violent stuff. Now the FCC is going to allow cellphones on planes. Now that’s a dumb idea. I’m okay with text messaging but voice calls, no way.
Capitalism is the devil and government is our savior. Don’t ask me how this happened, but if you work hard, take risks, act responsibly, and become successful, you’re evil. But if you game the system and let the government – meaning hardworking taxpayers – take care of you, you’re not a parasite, you’re one of the good guys.
Political gridlock is the new normal. Our nation has never been more divided. Washington is indeed broken. That’s the bad news. The good news is that strong leadership can change that in a heartbeat. How do we the people make that happen? One vote at a time.
Pretty much everyone is on the entitlement gravy train. The absolute biggest epiphany of the year was how pervasive America’s entitlement culture has become. From self-dealing career politicians and greedy CEOs to public employee unions and massive entitlement fraud – just about everyone has their hand out and it’s crushing our nation.
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be happier to see the ball drop on 2013. As for 2014, let’s all hope for a boring year of stable growth.
Steve Tobak is a Silicon Valley-based strategy consultant and former senior executive of the technology industry.