To: Father Time
It seems that everything has moved to the cloud: calendars, photos, emails, business, and now time itself. BreakingViews, a news service of Reuters News, predicted a few years ago that Germany would win the soccer World Cup by using advanced analytics. Today, utilizing “the cloud” and heretofore secret analytical abilities, we have developed 20-20 foresight, which allows us to predict the major events of 2020.
Minnesota sports. The number of sports fans in Minnesota will increase exponentially because Minnesota sports will no longer be a losing proposition. In the past, the only reliable winning teams were entirely female—the Lynx, the Whitecaps, the University of Minnesota women’s volleyball, hockey, and softball teams (Twin Cities).
The Minnesota Gopher football team will play in its first major bowl game since 1962, rather than a bowl named after Sani-Flush. Not to be outdone, the Vikings will go deep in the playoffs, including a Super Bowl appearance for the first time since Super Bowl XI. The Timberwolves, who have only made the playoffs one time since 2004, will qualify in the last week of the regular season (as they did in 2018).
The glorious Minnesota Twins’ 2019 season will be repeated. Their pitching rotation will get better, but not with the addition of a high-buck starting pitcher. The Bomba Squad will continue, and Nelson Cruz will defy Father Time once again. The boys of summer will evoke memories of Tony, Rod, Harmon, Earl, Zoilo, and Kirby. But this time, they will beat the Yankees in the playoffs.
Finally, for State of Hockey fans, the Minnesota Wild will excite controversy. Majority owner Craig Leipold has never scrimped on the team and has been honest with fans. It was Leipold who admitted a mistake hiring Paul Fenton as general manager and who corrected that mistake by hiring Bill Guerin. The hire will prove to be pivotal, but Guerin and the Wild play in the toughest division of the NHL; playoff prospects are uncertain. What is certain is that a team that is old by NHL standards (average age 29.5 years) and has four players 35+ will be a lot younger at season’s end.
Medical. A number of research facilities have started to view human aging as a disease that is treatable. Much of this research is summarized in Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To by Dr. David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. This book, and its copious endnotes, outlines the breakthroughs we can expect in treating aging as a preventable disease. While we have waited somewhat longer for the return of Ponce de Leon than Gopher fans have waited for a major bowl game, Dr. Sinclair outlines dramatic medical advances in treating aging, some of which will occur in 2020.
State government. When the Legislature reconvenes in February, headlines will continue to underscore systemic problems at the Department of Human Services. The most recent review by the Office of the Legislative Auditor was scathing in its analysis of the lack of managerial oversight that has existed within DHS for a number of years. This has resulted in overpayment to American Indian tribes of $29 million for in-home treatment of opioid addiction. A legislative solution to the tribal payment issue will be achieved in 2020 along the same lines that have been used to solve public pension underfunding: some percentage paid by the recipients with a larger percentage paid from the general fund. But the deeper dysfunction is in DHS, an unwieldy $18 billion-per-biennium entity. Last year, DHS had four separate commissioners, but the present one, Jodi Harpstead, is a highly accomplished recruit from the private sector. 2020 will see her propose to the Legislature a reorganization into three discrete and manageable agencies.
National politics. We can predict the shape of national politics, but not until March 4. That is the day after Super Tuesday, when 15 jurisdictions will hold their presidential primaries/caucus events. Super Tuesday will account for approximately one-third of the U.S. voting population, including California and Texas (and, for the first time, Minnesota). According to an analysis by the online resource Ballotpedia, since 1984 every Republican Super Tuesday winner has gone on to be the Republican nominee, and with the exception of Gary Hart in 1984, the same pattern holds for the Democrat. So major predictions will await Super Tuesday, but look for former UN ambassador Nikki Haley to be the Republican nominee for vice president.
So there you have next year with the advantage of perfect 20-20 foresight. It should be an upbeat and optimistic year on most fronts.
Vance K. Opperman
Optimistic about 2020
Vance K. Opperman
is owner and CEO of MSP
Communications, which publishes
Twin Cities Business.