Friday, January 22, 2021
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Should not be hard to beat 2020

| January 1, 2021 1:00 AM

The just-deceased year (may it rest miserably in hell forever, amen) set the history bar exceedingly low.

Without tempting fate too foolishly, it's hard to imagine that 2021 could possibly be as wretched as its immediate predecessor.

But rather than simply knock on wood and hope for the best over the next 12 months, here are three examples from 2020 worth emulating, assuring a much better and brighter outlook for 2021.

HEALTH

Sure, there were massive missteps in our nation's response to the pandemic, starting with declarations that it was a hoax or that it would simply pass quickly.

Despite throngs of residents who have been doing their best to give COVID-19 wings to wreak more harm, a bright light has emerged that bodes well for 2021 and beyond: Front-line health care workers who have been battle tested and proved themselves worthy over and over again.

Combined with vaccines creating wellsprings of hope, optimism flows that this scourge will be defeated in the months ahead — and that should other health assaults head our way in the future, we'll be well-equipped to deal with them.

And maybe, just maybe, our health care professionals will have more respect and general support than they did this time around.

INDUSTRY

Say this about Idaho: When the chips are down, Gem Staters often find ways to flip the odds.

How else can you explain the fact that the devastation caused by 2020's economic storm had less effect on Idaho jobs than any other state? As economist John W. Mitchell noted in this week's Business Journal of North Idaho, our state showed actual job growth year over year in October — the only state to do so.

Add to that Mitchell's notation that while housing prices have risen virtually everywhere this year, Idaho led the way nationally in the third quarter — further testament that the economic turnaround might not be as dire as many predicted.

We're as fiscally sound as any state in the union. Want proof? While many are facing massive budget deficits in 2021, Idaho will grapple with this problem: What to do with a budget surplus expected to exceed $600 million.

Education, infrastructure and tax relief are three likely and welcome targets.

COOPERATION

Three words give us great hope that our federal leadership can leave partisan bloodletting in the post-election gutter: Problem Solvers Caucus.

This bipartisan Congressional group salvaged the COVID-19 stimulus package that President Trump had threatened to veto but signed on Sunday. It took a level of cooperation rarely seen in D.C., including key members working throughout Christmas Day to get 'er done. By the next night, the president was ready to sign on.

Let's resolve that spirit of cooperation for the benefit of the entire nation is the next contagion that sweeps America.