Thursday, January 27, 2022

2021 was nothing to brag about

| December 31, 2021 1:00 AM

Welcome to the Year in Review Town Hall, people of Kootenai County.

Now then, let’s see a show of hands from all of you who can look back on 2021 with abundant good feelings and regret that the hourglass is almost empty?

Hello? Anybody?

Granted, in every life, some good had to transpire this year. But if the imaginary town hall is to mirror reality at all, 2021 looks and feels a lot like 2020. And examining the past 12 months is, for most of us anyway, no celebratory exercise.

Painting with admittedly broad brush strokes, this year’s portrait is rather pathetic. The persistent pandemic continued to wreak havoc in families and businesses, among health care providers and, increasingly, by further dividing and alienating otherwise agreeable people. Until COVID-19 is laid to rest, it’s going to be hard to give a year two thumbs up.

A 2021 silver lining for many of you reading this editorial is the decision to hike Social Security payments an astonishing 5.9 percent. About 70 million Americans will benefit from that cost-of-living increase, which is wonderful news. But the truth is, even that bonus won’t make up for the knee-buckling inflation that has sent housing, gas, grocery and other prices soaring. This year will be unfavorably regarded as The Year Inflation Returned With A Vengeance.

Convenience also took a kick in the shorts in 2021. The silver lining is that quite a few employees are getting paid more and receiving better treatment. The storm producing that silver lining, however, is a nasty one. It’s led to reduced hours, reduced inventories, reduced convenience in many sectors. While the pandemic doesn’t bear sole responsibility for supply chain and other woes, its fingerprints are clear on the cudgel used repeatedly on consumers’ heads.

Locally, the temperature has also been rising in 2021 — and we aren’t simply referring to climate change. Anger and frustration, fed by varying measures of legitimate concern and unmitigated mis- and disinformation, have erupted across the political landscape.

North Idaho College is in shambles. Public schools and libraries are magnets for malevolence. While Idaho continues to be the fastest-growing state in the union, some of the balance that long made North Idaho such a welcoming place is in jeopardy. This year has only seen that imbalance grow — with pandemic-related stress and strife adding unhealthy weight to one side of the scale.

The growth we just mentioned remains a blessing and a curse in 2021 — with more citizens likely to vote for the latter than the former. True, the tax base is growing, developers are making a decent living and certain retailers are awash in new business, affordable housing has disappeared. Traffic has gone from headache to migraine. And the rustic quality of life has unquestionably suffered.

If this look back over the preceding 12 months is unfairly negative, then hang on for another 48 hours. On Sunday we’ll take a look ahead that promises to be more optimistic.

Recent Headlines