This isn't a "year in review". It's not even a set of predictions for 2019. Instead, these three issues are changes that will evolve well into the future..with meaningful next steps possibly becoming more prominent in the year ahead.
(1) Designing Your Children. In 2018, a Chinese scientist announced he'd altered the DNA of twin babies to make them resistent to their father's HIV. This created a firestorm in scientific circles because the scientist disregarded all accepted standards and ethical guidelines by not even mentioning what he was doing beforehand. This moved society further along a path to confront an ethical dilemna that will last for generations. Instinctively we recoil against such "eugenic" ideas. But what about the friend of one of my friends who was just diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer? He's 26. Would you prevent your child from ever having to face that?
(2) The Employment Paradox. The economy right now is "good", based on the number of help wanted signs surrounding us. And political feuds aside, it should continue getting better. But the future promises not more, but fewer jobs...based on the abilities of AI and robots to take on more of our labors. And not just in factories--much of the work done currently by doctors and lawyers can also be absorbed by computer-based entities. What will we do when there are not enough jobs to go around? How will society incorporate even the highly skilled and highly educated who "aren't working"?
(3) Rebuilding the Budget. America is the richest nation in the history of the world. Yet we see exploding deficits and national debt--which is preposterous. Logically examining how we spend (and overspend) our wealth inevitably begins with buzz phrases like national security, entitlements, welfare and capitalism. This argument is certain to spring back to life as Democrats in Congress leverage their role to design all spending measures...but will also increasingly determine future elections as the inevitable bills come due.
As Donald Trump incessantly maneuvers to continue dominating headlines, these are issues that will be largely tamped down benearth the surface for the time being...but are certain to persist in the national debate for generations.
(p.s. Shorter term, it's obvious that 2019 will begin the process of winnowing down a large field of Democratic contenders to run for President in 2020. To make that process more fair, productive and collaborative, I urge you to consider "The People's Platform", if you haven't done so already.)
Happy New Year--winter issue coming January 12th....