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Looking toward a not-so-happy new year

Most years offer enough hard times and regrets that I’m not sorry to see them end. But I’m feeling different about 2022. It appears to be the calm before the storm–and I would prolong the year if I could.

2022 will be remembered for the largest European war since World War II–the Russian attack on Ukraine. Ukrainians, expected to surrender at least part of their territory within weeks, have fought far harder than anyone suspected they could. Their determination and successes have strengthened the will of democracies to unite against autocratic powers.

But where do we go from here? Vladmir Putin, leader of nuclear-armed Russia, has demonstrated he has bad judgment and an ego that won’t let him accept defeat. With winter here, Putin’s forces are crippling the infrastructure providing heat and electricity to Ukrainian cities, where average temperatures mirror Stanley’s more than Boise’s. NATO nations will have to decide among some frightening options. Just how much help can we give before Russia retaliates?

2022 will be remembered as the year that the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, leaving abortion laws in the hands of the states. Idaho is one of 12 states with severe bans– abortions are only allowed here in cases involving rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother. The Idaho Republican Party convention has voted to remove those exceptions.

We already have a severe shortage of workers. Just how many young families will move when we no longer value the needs or lives of pregnant mothers?

And just how many doctors will we lose? Idaho already ranks lowest in the number of doctors per person. It can take weeks to get an appointment.

2022 will be remembered as the year the country got serious about doing something about climate change–though maybe not serious enough. Drought, heat, storms, floods and wildfires are still expected to increase.

Half of the U.S. area outside Alaska and Hawaii is suffering drought conditions. The situation will only get worse as water levels fall lower than the intake valves in Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

In late September there were 38 wildfires burning in Idaho. The Moose Fire started July 17 and wasn’t reported as ‘contained’ until Nov. 14.

And Boise had over 25 days this year where temperatures rose above 100 degrees.

2022 will be remembered as the year that housing costs left thousands of Americans homeless. The situation in Idaho was among the worst; posted that the cost of housing here rose to 36% more than the national average. Faced with nationwide inflation, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates seven times.

Housing sales in Idaho have now dropped 30% and owners have cut prices, but not enough for many wage earners to buy a house.

And 2022 will be remembered as the off-year election where the president’s party didn’t lose heavily–and where extremist Republicans gained control of their party.

We’ve known about the extremists' victory in Idaho since the November election. According to one reporter, our Senate–which had only two extremists last session–now has four on the Education Committee. Idaho schools will be under attack from both houses–as will nine other agencies–like Medicaid and Parks and Recreation–that extremists oppose.

And, apparently, Republican extremists are expected to hold similar power in the U.S. House. Extremist votes are certain to decide whether Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy steps up to be Speaker of the House. He courted them by trying to get voting on the omnibus spending bill delayed until the new Congress starts in January.

I know 2022 was hard for many people. I fear 2023 won’t be better.

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