Today is the last day of 2021. Right time to look back, look ahead. Put simply 2021 has been an extraordinary year! A year in which • Good and bad were engaged in a constant battle • Many lives were saved, many lives were lost • Prosperity soared and paucity increased • The bright lights of democracy were threatened by inimical forces • We witnessed courage and cowardice in plenty • Truth tried to emerge while misinformation exploded • Olympian heights were reached along with plumbing of depths • Welcome jabs were followed by unwelcome jabbing • Lessons were learned hard and quickly forgotten • There was a lot gained and a lot lost • Hope and fear seemed to be juxtaposed
It has been a year to reevaluate priorities and relationships, both personal and professional, for many including yours truly. Will be interesting to see how historians view 2021. When 2021 and 2022 meet I hope the intersection is at love. 🥰 Hey, even the number 2022 has a good feel to it! Like beautiful swans together, one followed by two! Humanity needs to transition from a world of pain, loss and grief to one that abounds in love. My optimism is tempered by reality and reality is tinged with optimism. 🙏
Alpha, Beta, Gamma Delta, Lambda, Kappa Zeta, Eta, Theta Random Greek alphabets? Or name of Greek fraternities? Or basics to learning the classics? Could be any of the above Yet these are names WHO appears to love For coronavirus variants on the move! A recent variant labeled Omicron Sounds like combination of Ominous and Cron Has the feel of a ticking time bomb; Are humans stuck in a loop Of never-ending alphabet soup Or will we find the will to regroup? For starters, to put the public at ease Stop using wave to describe outbreaks of the disease For waves do not cease!
Fed and fed up with partisan trope Sliding down a slippery slope Appearing to be at the end of the rope What would it take to help people cope? While money and jobs may be dope Problems with a very wide scope Demand solutions that give hope
PrezEl Corp audited results for the years 2016 and 2020 have been published. According to information available to the public at this time the results for the two years compare as follows: 1) For the year 2016, total revenue from core business was ~ $62.9 million. After announcement of results PrezEl Corp stock experienced a bump despite a loss of ~ $2.8 million. This was attributed to the better than expected revenue and mention about steps to cut down expenses in the earnings call. Per PrezEl management the full benefit of the measures would be visible in the years ahead with profit being forecast from 2020 onwards 2) For the year 2020, total revenue from core business was ~ $74.2 million. Per guidance in earlier earnings call/s, profit was expected for the year 2020. Even though revenue increased ~ $11.3 million from 2016, losses widened to ~ $7 million instead. This was attributed to unexpected adverse market conditions by PrezEl management. PrezEl stock slumped after the announcement of 2020 result as the market was disappointed by PrezEl management inability to adapt to changing market conditions. The company had projected profit as recently as the 3Q earnings call just a few months earlier. ————————————————– Substitute the above fictional PrezEl Corp with Presidential Election. Total revenue represent the actual total votes cast for Republican Party Presidential candidate and Total expense represent the actual total votes cast for Democratic Party Presidential candidate, for the years 2016 and 2020. It’s clear as day Republican Party has been hemorrhaging votes to the benefit of Democratic Party. Gain of 11.3 million votes in 2020 is illusory as it masks the greater shift in support to Democratic Party in 2020. It’s the equivalent of brick-and-mortar stores seeing more foot traffic but still losing shoppers to online retailers. With no available evidence of widespread fraud there was no chance to boost other income (line item# 5) to totally offset the difference. If at least a few of the party leaders had forcefully stated, publicly and firmly, to stop the baseless election fraud allegations even as late as last weekend the mess that was witnessed in US Capitol earlier this week could have been avoided. The question then becomes why were they either silent or supporting the effort? Based on what we have seen over the past few years fear of career destruction trumped the acceptance of reality, I can think of no other explanation
It’s the final weekend of 2020. Boy oh boy, the year of COVID has been incredible. This is the year we all learned to value some of the things below that may be taken for granted during good times 1) Food 2) Home 3) Togetherness 4) Privacy 5) Work 6) Health 7) Vote At the start of the year if that was the prediction of what we would learn the consensus reaction would have been “Deal!”. Little did we know learning the value for many would come from loss of food security/home/job/health/life of a family member or through forced separation/forced time together at home or with the risk of their vote not counting. 2020 has not been real, it’s been surreal. Nothing illustrates this better than long lines of people outside food banks contrasting with booming fortunes of a few at the same time. Misery and prosperity coexisting together. Yes, that’s how it’s been. Even 20/20 now sounds like a dystopian vision, not perfect vision.With all the pain and general misery the year is coming to an end with hopes of glimmer. All the folks in their lab coats, the scientists, doctors and nurses have been simply magnificent. People have been generous donating their time, money and food to those in need. This time of crisis has brought out the best in many. Hopefully 2021 will witness humans reaching Olympian heights in their achievements and at the same time it’s a safer and gentler world. Three qualities, with all their connotations, will be needed most for that: Hope, Faith, Resolve
The past week witnessed the return of the 44th POTUS Barack Obama to the campaign trail to canvass support for former VP Joe Biden. As usual Obama was eloquent, infusing empathy with logic and facts in making a case for Biden. Hearing him speak it was clear why people voted for him twice for the POTUS post. The citizens appreciate when they are respected, detect sincerity and feel a candidate seeking office listens to them, has proper plans for governing and explain how their lives will change for the better if elected to office. All of those qualities were in ample evidence when Obama made his case for Biden. Yesterday he also mixed humor while taking a jab at the current POTUS at a drive-in rally in South Florida. His words about the current POTUS “He likes to act tough and talk tough. He thinks scowling and being mean is tough. But when ’60 Minutes’ and Lesley Stahl are too tough for you, you ain’t all that tough.” Ouch, that must have hurt!
As a non-partisan voter let me summarize my impressions of Obama Presidency. Elected in the wake of the Great Recession he was dealt a bad hand to begin with. In addition when speaking to a few folks I sensed disrespect when they derisively referred to his community service prior to his becoming a Senator and then President. When I heard those arguments my thoughts were “Here I am, seeing the whole country runs on volunteering work by citizens, parents in schools, folks donating their time, money and effort in building homes and other ways for improvement of communities and to hear people slighting community service was like insulting all people who were in those efforts”. Birtherism, raised repeatedly and fanned by the current POTUS was a constant refrain heard during those years. Let’s examine how President performed during his eight years as POTUS.
The election of Obama as POTUS. under the circumstances he was first elected, was a triumph of hope over despair, of new possibilities in terms of approach, healing touch and the knowledge that comes with being the first of a kind in blazing new trails. His attending two Ivy schools of repute were proof of a scholarly mind and residing in other parts of the world growing up also brought in awareness, experience and respect for other cultures too. In terms of achievements the economy rebounded, unemployment reduced and the Affordable Care Act was passed to make health insurance available to more citizens. Osama Bin Laden was also finally traced out and eliminated after many unsuccessful attempts by previous administrations. Collaboration with other countries also increased for issues of global importance like climate change. One very noticeable aspect of those times was of Obama consciously refraining from using his race for electoral gains. The Obamas always came across as decent folks and many people could relate to them as they went about their life as normally as possible like other working parents with young children. This feeling was reinforced recently in the documentary “The Way I See It” which featured pictures and videos by the official White House photographer (and currently Madison, WI resident! 👍) Pete Souza.
On the debit side of the ledger the economic recovery during this period was not very fast, wages did not rise much and people with health insurance offered by employers saw quite a bit of rise in their insurance premiums, copay etc. Could have been due to distribution of increased costs of covering people with pre-existing conditions being spread to all people with health insurance. It’s my guess and I am likening it to home insurance cost rising for all people residing in areas hit by floods or hurricane etc even if only a few people actually got affected by those events (I must add that I have heard praise of Obamacare from some folks I know for making it possible and affordable to buy health insurance for their old parents. Likewise even people with the means to buy health insurance and with kids born with a medical condition have praised Obamacare. People with serious or terminal illnesses too have been grateful). Another area where results fell short was in the rise of ISIS as troop levels were drawn down in Iraq. I interpret it as a case of noble intentions not working out well and possibly not reassessed.
After ~ 4 years of constant criticism from the current POTUS and the almost obsessive desire to undo everything that was initiated or established in place it’s understandable why Obama would choose to speak out at this time. The tribulations of hearing his name dragged through mud non-stop must have snapped his resolve to stay away from commenting or responding to constant criticisms and insults.
Final analysis: Obama Presidency had all the potential of being transformational (bi-racial parents, excellent education, empathy, relative youth, new ideas etc) but fell short in that aspect. Not for lack of trying though. Most times Congress just seemed to lack desire to overcome partisanship in working with the President for the greater good. Me thinks the nation was ready to elect but not quite ready to fully accept the President and that is sad 😢🙏
Few days ago Labor Party in New Zeland won outright parliamentary majority and in the process another term as Prime Minister for Jacinda Ardern ( https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54519628 ). The victory appears to be hard-earned (I prefer the similar sounding Ardern’ed) as the Ardern-led Government has had to deal with, in this term, a terrorist attack in Christchurch, a natural disaster when the White Island/Whakaari volcano erupted, and COVID-19 pandemic too.
Sound familiar to Northerners on the other side of Pacific?
It’s instructive how the NZ Government handled the terrorist attack and COVID-19 pandemic in their country. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack the Government first acknowledged a need for action and, within a short time, issued a ban on possession of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. The Government has also garnered praise for its handling of the COVID-19 cases and for success in measures taken to contain the spread. Obviously it has come with a price. Travel and tourism would have taken a big hit and the country is in recession now. For a country with ~ 5 million total population a major outbreak would have been a great setback. Yet, with good implementation of safety measures the country is back to as-close-to-normal-as-possible at this time. I do not follow NZ news regularly. Obviously terrorist attack points to existence of some individuals or fringe groups intent on creating racial/religious tension in society (which can be expected in any country). It’s the response to such tragedies that makes a big difference. Likewise COVID-19 related measures likely caused hardship to people while making the country safer. It’s also likely some mistakes were made and lessons learned in an evolving situation ( https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2020-10-23/pandemic-leadership-lessons-from-new-zealands-elections ). Going by the result of general election – a resounding majority for the incumbent, the people have approved the performance. That’s not to say everything must have been done perfect. The lesson to learn, in a functioning democracy, is that if the leaders share known facts people understand and are also more forgiving of honest mistakes made. No economy can survive being shut for a long time and it’s not easy to balance safety with minimal economic impact. It’s good to see transparency and sincerity still matter. Wish it could be replicated on a bigger scale by other countries too
This morning I was reflecting on all the incredible events that have unfolded in this year 2020. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to state that the situation is almost war-like with a raging pandemic, social unrest and natural calamities like fierce wildfires and record number of hurricanes. More than 200,000 lives lost, millions of jobs gone and countless lives upended by all the happenings. One common aspect in all the tragedies we have seen this year is lack of respect. During earlier times there used to be respect for the opponent one was fighting. In filmed TV series of Hindu epics like Mahabharatha and Ramayana both sides used to abide by the rules of war and respect the opponent’s strengths. Start and cessation of hostilities were marked by blowing conch shell. Battles were fought between sunrise and sunset and the true warriors did not celebrate their victory by dancing over the graves of the fallen. Even the Cold War period was remarkable for both sides showing restraint in trying to prevent situations escalating to war. Sign of respect (for the other side’s strength and capability) and fear of mutual assured destruction (MAD) in the event conflicts spiraled out of control.
Fast forward to the present. In business we have seen well established companies paying the price for disregarding the competition of smaller, nimbler startups and struggling to stay relevant. In sports when champions have not taken their challengers seriously and instead indulged in trash talk they have fallen from their perch. Politics too has been marred by politicians belittling their opponents and making false allegations against them. Hubris in human beings forces some to assume showing any respect is a signal of weakness. Sadly it’s not limited to behavior towards other human beings. Lack of respect has extended to nature too. The effect of wanton destruction of forests, merciless killing of animals and unchecked pollution of environment in the name of development is evidenced by raging wildfires, frequent once in a century type floods, vanishing species and poor air and water quality. Unfortunately the same lack of respect has afflicted the fight against the ongoing pandemic. While there were lot of unknowns at the start of the pandemic there has been unmistakable evidence in the past few months of the extreme infectious and destructive capability of novel coronavirus. The virus is an equal opportunity offender in that it doesn’t care for a person’s wealth, power, social status, gender, race etc. Any person deliberately ignoring the safety guidelines or accidentally dropping their guard risk getting infected. Be it sports, business, politics, natural disasters or pandemic some level of respect is required while fighting an opponent, along with preparation. Will the humans rise to the occasion? I hope so 🙏