As this year winds down, I am left wondering about some of the incongruent happenings in the world around me, some of which I have dealt with in full-length articles. Let me itemize them, in no particular order. Hopefully, if you see some meaning, or have faced similar questions in the past and can see a way out, you will write back to me via the editor:
1. Why are the marginalized rising up in anger to bulldoze the establishment into submission, and thus turning into the very bullies who once ran roughshod over them?
2. Rich countries are complaining that they are starved for immigrants, and yet they do not admit that a fully educated immigrant is the biggest cash grab they can get—educated at another country’s expense, ready for the most demanding work, and capable of paying the highest taxes until they become savvy and start finding loopholes like the rest of us. Why not fess up about the real benefits of immigration and open the door wider, put more resources behind this talent conquest, and allow those lined up outside the gates to enter?
3. Poorer countries keep pushing out their best and brightest, retaining only the huddled masses who are easier to control and manipulate, and who are bound to vote for them if trinkets are sprinkled just before an election. The very people who can lift these countries out of the abyss are uncaringly allowed to leave, and after having their education paid for by the state. Why?
4. In the midst of a pandemic, air travel is reaching high growth levels again. Why? Air travel is the fastest transmitter of disease. We wonder how the 1918 flu pandemic burned out without a vaccine, yet a hundred years later and light years ahead in science, we cannot rid ourselves of this bug, even with a whole new generation of vaccines and anti-viral drugs at our disposal. Has the international mass movement of people in a matter of hours ever been considered as a key transmitter—something not around in 1918—or has that fact got to be ignored for the good of the economy?
5. Why is 40% of Canada’s university revenues coming from foreign students (I get different numbers from different news reports, so I’m taking the most conservative one)? Have we failed the locals, or has our higher education system become the overseas branch of India and China, just like those countries became our manufacturing plants?
6. On to writing: how does one sell a novel without establishing a brand in today’s crowded marketplace? With limited time on the reader’s side, isn’t she likely to pick up the most talked about book, thus perpetuating the “1% of the 1%” phenomenon in book reading habits?
7. More on writing: why do writers engage in forgettable banter on Facebook when they are supposed to be writing the next unforgettable novel that will define our age?
8. Why does retirement correlate with irrelevance? Is the paycheque the measure of the person?
9. Why does isolation (magnified in pandemic times) compound irrelevance? Does the lack of sight, sound, and touch (mainly touch) remind us that we are only defined in relation to others?
10. Why do real-estate prices mushroom even in a pandemic? Is there no other place or enterprise to invest in? When will the crash come? Or are crashes unthinkable in the West as long as it remains a safe haven for immigrants desperate to find a roof over their heads? But mushrooming real-estate prices is now a global issue—why?
11. What happened to the truth? Who is telling the truth? Is it the old Master of Lies who is introducing a new social media platform shortly, once he has collected enough money from us, or is it the incumbent Young Master who allowed a whole bunch of liars to play on his dominant platform without verification?
12. Why is Climate Change always happening somewhere else and not in our backyard?
13. Bitcoin is creeping into world economies. Is this an attempt to legitimize the crypto-currency and peg it to some form of tangible value, or is it to magnify the bubbles in our economies to the point that they go “pop!”?
I’m classifying 2021 as another lost year, lost to muddled thinking, incongruent actions, and sub-optimal returns. Let’s hope we get some answers and better behaviour in the year ahead.