Three reasons why I am still hopeful for 2016
It has been an infuriating start to the new year – and yet I can’t quite shake this feeling that things might just be on the cusp of getting better.
This is because I am stupid.
Look, I’m the guy who resolved to take up drinking because nobody ever actually keeps their New-Years resolutions. Okay I don’t drink, but I’m not entirely sure competence at life is my strong suit.
But also, I think there are some positives which we should keep in mind this year.
There is a lot of racism in South Africa, and so far this year has been ‘another day, another racist being exposed on social media’.
That could be seen as a dire negative – but actually there is something that is not being said.
Some Durban real estate saleswoman being a racist is news. It is news now when a TV presenter mocks someone’s pronunciation of words. It is news when an ‘economist’ expresses common conservative talking points.
Velaphi Khumalo’s statements are nothing new in South Africa. There are reasons that so few news websites in South Africa have open comments – including one guy who celebrated the death of a baby as “one less settler”.
But the sheer horror expressed at Khumalo’s statements, and the consequences that have befallen him?
They show that while we aren’t past the day of that sort of thing, we have maybe finally progressed into the afternoon.
It is now news – and that means this bullshit has finally crossed the threshold into being just unusual enough to be remarkable.
2: Pravin Gordhan
At the end of last year President Jacob Zuma suffered a reality check on his power – and that resulted in the return of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.
Gordhan isn’t a perfect finance minister, but he is at least competent in the role.
He has also come into his position with an authority nobody has had before – Zuma cannot threaten him.
In real terms if Zuma got rid of Gordhan the ANC would be forced to get rid of Zuma – or face a situation where we don’t have our own currency anymore.
And I don’t think that the ANC is willing to go that far for its leader. Gordhan is here to clean up a mess, and that gives him a lot of heft - which means we may end up with a coherent economic policy.
3: The Rand
Paul Krugman’s most frequent criticism of the Euro is that it constrains member states from being able to devalue their currencies.
In other words, devaluing your currency can have some positive effects on the economy.
With regards to South Africa that means that things are going to get expensive – but maybe we might start developing some jobs.
I am not saying the economy is going to recover this year – but it isn’t impossible and we should not let our dejection over our politics blind us to that.
Despite everything that has happened in the first 12 days of the year, I am not giving up on 2016 just yet. This is a new year – and it is up to us as to whether that just means new problems, or a chance to solve the old ones.
I am an ignorant misguided piece of carbon floating in an uncaring universe that is mostly made of things that can kill me, especially the bits of it that don’t actually have any things.
And yet life is good. Life is good and we can make it better – this isn’t a New Year’s resolution to make it better, this isn’t a promise that it will be better, but an acknowledgement that better can be achieved.
Let’s not forget that.