We're crossing our fingers that the US finally found its rock bottom in 2020.
Hey, America, you okay?
Because honestly...you're not looking so good. We know that 2020 was a rough year, but you haven't exactly been doing yourself any favors with how you've handled it.
If we're being honest, a lot of the worst parts of the last 12 months weren't really new — they were the same old problems you've had for a while now, just with some extra emphasis. So if you're really hoping that things will get better in 2021, a good place to start would be to take a look in the mirror and start doing some work on yourself.
While this is generally looking like a good year for everyone to skip the self-flagellation of New Year's resolutions and take it easy, you, America — as the world's military and economic superpower — might just be the exception to that rule. With that in mind, here are some changes you should really consider making in 2021, assuming you ever want to get your s**t together.
Clean Up After Yourself
Not sure if you've noticed, but you kind of make a mess everywhere you go. Whether we're talking about pumping out more CO2 per person than any other country, or forcing your way into other countries' business to tell them how to handle their own mess — and leaving behind more chaos than when you got there — it's not a good look.
Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord would technically be a small step in the right direction, but something like the Green New Deal would be a lot closer to the kind of thing you actually need to do. Also, that thing you did in with the EPA in 2020 — when you decided to let your corporate buddies make as much of a mess as they wanted — that has to go.
Even if it was okay to trash your own land and force your own citizens to deal with the consequences — and it's definitely not — you might have noticed these things called the oceans and the atmosphere that the whole world has to share, and that's where a lot your crap ends up. You're poisoning the world and accelerating the climate crisis that is going to contribute even more to global instability than you have with military intervention.
So cut it out.
Let Puerto Rico Join Your Weird Club
Speaking of the climate crisis — and the catastrophic natural disasters it's going to continue producing in the coming decades — remember when Puerto Rico got slammed by Hurricane Maria back in 2017? The whole way that was handled was awful.
Some of that was down to local corruption, but the federal response was also really mismanaged. Thousands of people died needlessly in the slow, sloppy process of restoring basic infrastructure — with one vital contract handed to a tiny company owned by a major donor to Donald Trump.
It's the kind of awful experience that might motivate voters to go to the polls and reconsider their federal representation... Except that Puerto Rico doesn't have any federal representation.
Since 1898 it has been under U.S. control, yet the three million U.S. Citizens who live in Puerto Rico don't get to vote for federal legislators or the president. No wonder they were treated so much worse than any state would have been.
And while, in the past, most Puerto Ricans have been hesitant to back a push for statehood — both because of issues with the local government being legitimized, and because a lot of residents would rather push for independence — November of 2020 marked the first time the populace voted for statehood in any serious way. That means it's now on you, America, to grant Puerto Rico its statehood and basic rights of representation.
You should honestly be flattered they want to join. And considering your whole "No Taxation Without Representation" thing, America — and the fact that Puerto Rico has a bigger population than 19 current states — it would be pretty ridiculous not to let them join your weird club. D.C. statehood also deserves some consideration, although they at least get to vote for president.
Cool It With the Guns
Okay, we get it. Guns are fun.
They make big scary noises and put holes in things, and they really do make for some of the coolest slow motion content of fruit exploding on YouTube. But don't you think you might be a little obsessed?
Even setting aside your decision to let everyone have as many semi-automatic rifles as they want — which really doesn't seem to be going well — the amount you spend on your personal collection of guns is out of control. Do you really need $720 billion for the military budget? Seriously?
Maybe if you didn't sell of so many of your old toys at a steep discount to police — who really don't need them, and are way too eager to use them against unarmed Black people — you wouldn't need to spend so much. Or you could shift some of that spending toward developing infrastructure in some of those places where you still need to clean up your mess — instead of using drones to continue making things worse...
Prove That You Value Human Life
Okay, you've had an issue with this one for a while now, but 2020 definitely brought it into focus. When your entire population needed to make changes to prevent the spread of a deadly pandemic, you decided to spend a lot of money on boosting the stock market, rather than helping people make ends meet and not have to worry about losing health coverage that's inexplicably tied to employment.
You were also way too eager to get people back to work and off of unemployment insurance. And way too accepting of the idea of "necessary sacrifices."
As a result, around 350,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 already, and a lot more are likely to follow. This kind of stuff makes you seem heartless and ghoulish. Do you think that people only have worth if they're adding to the economy?
There are a lot of things you could do to prove that you recognize the value of human life, but a good start would be universal health care like a Medicare for All system. People shouldn't have to worry about being buried in debt just because they don't want to die. Other countries don't do that to people, America, and you don't have to either.
At the very least, if you're not going to value human life, you need to stop pretending you do by co-opting slogans like "healthcare is a human right."
Get Off Facebook
Every social media platform has its own problems that involve a lot of complex issues of free speech and echo chambers, but one thing has become increasingly clear in recent years, America — you cannot handle Facebook.
You're way too quick to jump on board with misinformation and conspiracy theories, and you rarely bother to fact check the information you pick up there. Instead you just spread it around, and keep getting into weirder and weirder stuff.
If you're going to come to grips with reality in 2021 — and restore some sense that we all live in the same universe — you're going to have to get off Facebook. You might even want to consider the possibility that it's a dangerous monopoly in need of some good old fashioned trust busting — remember when you used to do that? So cool.
Kick Your Billionaire Addiction
Speaking of making Mark Zuckerberg cry, do you think you could maybe cut down on your supply of billionaires? When you got your first one back in 1916, it seemed like kind of a crazy one time thing. Yeah, you had a lot of fun with it — you still bring up Rockefeller a weird amount, to be honest — but it didn't seem like it was going to be a regular thing.
But more than 100 years later, you just keep chasing that first high, and now you've got something like 800 billionaires. That's way too many to have at any time — let alone during a period of national crisis when tens of millions are facing food insecurity and possible eviction.
And yet, rather than sacrificing some of that stash to help people out, you've used the crisis as an excuse to make even more billionaires — and to increase the potency of the ones you have. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have each made enough money in 2020 to buy and sell a Warren Buffett, a Michael Bloomberg, or one of the Walmart Waltons.
In one year they have made more than 1,000,000 times the median household income. No wonder they both think they deserve their own space programs. But they don't, America, because that's your thing — used to be, anyway.
And this kind of wealth inequality is not a healthy habit — it leads to unrest and instability. In short, America, you have a billionaire problem. But we don't expect you to quit overnight.
Just raise their taxes and start funding social programs (remember that "valuing human life thing we talked about?), maybe push them to shift company ownership and control to their workforces — like other countries do — and you can slowly whittle that 800 down to a slightly less shameful number like 500, or even a healthy and respectable 0.
Get Back Together With Science
Remember science? You two used to be so great together. You funded crazy projects like sending people to the moon, and science returned the favor by giving you booming technology industries.
You always used to imagine a future together with science — all those retro-futuristic doodles you loved back in the '60s. You really only started to distance yourself because science was trying to point out some of your flaws — like that thing about cleaning up after yourself with all that atmospheric pollution.
But at this point you must have realized that science had a point, right? You can get back to making investments in stuff like green technology, so other countries don't end up lapping you with stuff like solar power and battery tech.
With science you can make policy decisions based on things like "evidence," rather than gut feelings and lobbyist money. You can even put money into science education so maybe the next generation won't be so hard to protect from deadly viral pandemics!
If you get back together with science in 2021, you might still have a chance at a happy future.
So those are your goals for 2021, America. And if you manage not to completely drop the ball on most of these by February, we might even make it to 2022.