All the big questions for 2021 – and quite a few littles ones too
How does anyone manage to carry on an extramarital affair in a pandemic with the constant threat of a call from a COVID-19 contact tracer threatening to blow their cover?
Why does Netflix drag out a perfectly adequate two-hour movie into eight hour-long
episodes and then a second series?
How did anyone manage to do anything sneaky this year with all that contact tracing and QR malarkey.
Why are 15 foreign airlines flying into Australia bringing in a handful of people at a time
when our own Qantas stopped all international flights at the beginning of the crisis?
These questions and other modern mysteries are a more appropriate way to start the year
ahead than the usual practice of trying to give answers and predictions given the epic fail
of even Nostradamus in 2020.
Sure, the scientists had been warning for years about just such a pandemic but we had forsaken them for ill-informed media commentators and so-called economic experts. They were constantly wrong but our goldfish-sized memories had quickly forgotten.
Which might explain the question of why scientists had such a well-deserved rise in credibility this year while journalists did not, even though the latter were the ones who brought the news everyone was so desperately doom-scrolling.
So much time, so many questions.
If you have to wear masks in a theatre, why are you allowed to take in a drink which requires you lifting the mask?
Why is Donald Trump still there?
What was the point of Brexit when the island of Britain has been so desperate to keep its
borders open with the very same Europe it wanted to leave?
Why are Fox and Sky commentators still bagging the COVID vaccine when Rupert Murdoch was first in line to get his?
And why did it take a lockdown to learn that washing your hands, owning pets and not kissing strangers is good for your health?
Of course, the single biggest mystery of the moment is why on earth the sharemarket is at record levels when the global economy was shuttered for much of the year?
And it's not just stocks soaring but art and house prices while simultaneously banks, economists and businesses are giving dire warnings of the collapse of entire sectors from tourism to property developers. So how can we be in a boom and a bust at the same time?
Many experts have explained it as the result of the trillions of dollars in cheap money thrown at the crisis by governments around the world and that money is now looking for any investment opportunity.
Or is it simply so crazy that, as Wall Street analyst Charlie McElligott explained this week, "the market right now is clearly foaming at the mouth".
It could also be because the rich got richer this year which begs the question, how did the world's billionaires increase their wealth by 25 per cent in a year when everyone else went backwards?
If we were all in this together … well, we know the answer to that one.
Certainly, our own billionaires did well including Solly Lew, Bruce Gordon, Gerry Harvey – but why did Twiggy Forrest move to Croatia in September?
And on the subject of greed – why do ordinary people still give their money to some dodgy person such as Melissa Caddick who offer 30 per cent returns when the bank is offering less than 1 per cent? Has everyone forgotten Bernie Madoff and his pyramid schemes of the last GFC?
There are plenty of other questions about how much the world has really changed despite the avalanche of stories this year telling us so.
My prediction is that most predictions will be wrong.
For example, after September 11 it was predicted that no one would live on high floors in Manhattan but today the skyline is full of record-high glass skyscrapers. The main impact on airline travel was enhanced security and having to remove shoes but that did not deter record passenger numbers in recent years.
All year we were told the work-from-home revolution would now be permanent, but why
did so many employers rush to bring everyone back as soon as things calmed down? Or are
they just bad managers who don’t trust staff working from home as malingers?
(While publicly business leaders claim they are looking at a 60-40 office home model in the
future some privately admit it might be more like 80-20. No Mondays and Fridays off to
make up for long weekends either).
Once this nightmare is over will we enter a new Roaring Twenties phase as the Bright Young Things hug, dance, sing and party like its 1921 or at least 2019? Will they forsake the tracksuits for high heels and frocks thus proving the fashion doomsayers wrong?
No question it will all end in a 1929-style stockmarket crash.
And what of those people being unfaithful or doing illicit things during the pandemic. Will QR codes lead to an outbreak of fidelity and honesty or will there inevitably be a privacy backlash?
Will contact tracers be able to set up a private detective agency when all this is over?
Just one last question we're all secretly asking ourselves – could 2021 possibly be any worse than 2020?
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