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Column

Wimbiscus: If the world doesn't end in 2018, 2017 will eventually be 'good old days'

BILL WIMBISCUS
BILL WIMBISCUS

Well, 2017 is just about over, and not a minute too soon.

Between terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters and government scandals, there’s not much to recommend about it.

But hope springs eternal. Surely 2018 will have to be better, though I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it. 

That said, here’s a few predictions for the coming year:

The next governor of Illinois will be … a rich, out-of-touch businessman, either a thin one who likes to wear flannel shirts, or a fat one who likes to wear sweaters. It was once thought that bringing in an outsider from the private sector to clean up years of government stagnation was just the ticket. But now, after four years of Bruce Rauner and one year of Donald Trump, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Of course, in Illinois it doesn’t really matter which dude gets elected because, either way, the state will still be run by our real governor, Rep. Mike Madigan.

Hold on to that tax cut money … cuz you’re gonna need it. Most of us, or most of the people I know anyway, will see a federal income tax cut of roughly 3 percent under the newly passed Republican tax plan. Of course, 1.25 percent of that savings automatically gets eaten up by last year’s Illinois income tax increase. As for the rest, you better just pray that the increase in the standard deduction offsets all the other personal deductions you’re about to lose. Either that, or hire a good accountant. But just remember: tax preparation fees will no longer be deductible in 2018.

Media meltdown: The great purge of Hollywood and Washington will continue unabated. More and more producers, actors and congressional leaders join the ranks of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly as they are brought down by charges of sexual harassment, or even sexual assault. The sad fact, however, is that outside of career suicide and few mea culpas, none of these dirtbags ever seem to face any criminal action for their alleged misdeeds. Apparently America’s reluctance to prosecute rich men accused of white collar crimes extends below the belt, as well. Maybe they should be classified as tighty whitey crimes.

The end of the world: No self-respecting list of New Year’s prognostications would be complete without at least one prediction of the Apocalypse. As a child, I used to worry that the world would end in global nuclear winter. Later I became convinced we’d all buy it in planet-killing meteor strike. After that, climate-rending changes brought on by global warming caught my fancy. Now I realize I was wrong on all three counts. The world won’t end in ice. It won’t end in meteors. And it won’t end in fire.

It will end in a Tweet. 

Perhaps intentionally. But more likely by accident, perhaps something like this:

Trump will close his regular weekly diatribe against Kim Jong-Un with a Celebrity Apprentice-inspired “Rocket Man, you’re fired!” which North Korea’s sloppy translation software will erroneously translate to “Rockets fired at you, man!” Convinced the U.S. has launched a pre-emptive strike, Kim will extend one of his chubby fingers and press a big red button on his desk, and World War III will begin. Oops!

But as bleak as things appear now, it’s important to keep this in mind: in 50 years, long after most of us are dead and gone, our descendants will probably look back on this era as “the good old days.”

So raise a toast to Auld Lang Syne, and be sure to tweet all your followers a safe and inoffensive Happy New Year.

• Bill Wimbiscus, former reporter and editor for The Herald-News, has lived in Joliet for 25 years. He can be reached at news@theherald-news.com.

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