From time to time over the years, I have pulled out my prognosticative pen and scribed what I believed were 10 events most likely to occur in the year laid out before us. History has not been kind to these efforts. The reality is, I suck at prognostication. I have been wrong far more than I was right, yet I feel compelled to once again try to lay out the year ahead as I see it will likely be. I've even included a couple politically focused forecasts notwithstanding the incredibly divisive and tumultuous political times we find ourselves in. In a nod to those times, however, I have tried to balance them somewhat despite my own political proclivities. That way we can simultaneously please everyone, or just piss everybody off. And if everyone is angry, ironically, my windshield is statistically less likely to be shot out.
Besides, you must remember, I'm rarely right with these predictions.
After all, accuracy isn't everything it is cracked up to be. My efforts can best be summarized by a line from Oscar Wilde's venerable play “The Importance of Being Earnest.” The main character in the play, Algernon Moncrieff, says of his skill at playing the piano, “I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression.”
And with that admonition, I present my Top Ten Predictions for the year 2021.
The year gets off to a rough start when the entire workers' compensation industry is closed due to COVID. The closure is short lived, however, when brighter minds figure out that “someone has got to do something with all these sick people.” The industry is officially declared both essential and responsible for the outbreak. Everyone in the industry gets lapel pins to celebrate the essential designation, but they are afraid to wear them because the general public misunderstands the difference between “responsible” and “accountable.”
2021 will look a lot like 2020. As a result, the government passes a law moving New Year's Day to July 23rd, forcing an early start to the year 2022.
Former President Donald Trump will be pulled over for speeding near his home in Palm Beach, Florida. He will claim he was driving extremely well - ”better than anyone, ever, really,” and also that the radar gun was rigged. The officer will let him off with a warning. Congress, however, will impeach him.
Presumptions in workers' compensation will continue to be a growing trend. Midway through the year, legislation will be introduced in many states that changes already passed First Responder “rebuttable presumptions” into “undeniable assumptions.” In addition, due to production overruns at a promotion company hired by the workers' comp industry, every First Responder awarded benefits via undeniable assumptions will be given an “I'm Essential” lapel pin.
Relaxed immigration policies from the newly inaugurated Biden administration will lead to a surge in cheap, untrained labor and reignite debate regarding workers' compensation coverage for these workers. Ultimately administration efforts will mean their work is legal and benefits will be provided. In order to make these injured migrants feel as welcome as possible, their claims managers will be provided “Soy Esencial” lapel pins.
The Executive Branch transition will hit a small snag when incoming VP Kamala Harris unexpectedly calls dibs on the White House Residence Master Bedroom. After lengthy negotiations the situation is resolved. President Joe Biden gets the Master Bedroom, but Harris' clothes are left in the closet, since they will just have to be moved back in a few weeks anyway. (Oh, lighten up. It's a joke, people.)
A 50-state convention of all workers' compensation agencies and regulatory bodies will shock the industry with the nationwide adoption of a single page, consistent injury reporting form that may be used in all jurisdictions. The convention will also adopt policies regarding benefits to people injured by flying pigs, as well as those experiencing frostbite or hypothermia when Hell freezes over.
The Fight for $15 minimum wage will finally succeed. With new federal standards the long standing #FightFor15 movement will finally achieve its desired goal, and the Federal Minimum Wage will be increased to $15 per hour in 2021. The expected bump in workers' compensation premium will not be realized, however, as the undertaking will be quickly replaced by the #Hey,ThereIsARobotWhereMyJobUsedToBe movement, as well as the #WhyIsThisUnemploymentLineSoLong? crusade. (Ok, I stole this one from my predictions for 2018, but with a $15 minimum wage standard being included in the next stimulus spending proposal, it seems to have a better shot than ever)
The State of California realizes it has been several years since it “fixed" its workers' compensation system; something they like to do with some consistent regularity. Legislators will embark on comprehensive legislation SB 899865YadaYadaYada to fix whatever is ailing the comp system in the state. The biggest problem seems to be with Uber and Lyft drivers, who despite numerous attempts to bring them into the workers' comp fold, have thus far failed to join the party. The legal reforms will be delayed however, while someone somewhere figures out how to restore power to the state. Ultimately the proposed legislation will be watered down extensively. When signed into law, Uber and Lift drivers will not be covered under workers' comp but will be required to wear lapel pins that read, “El Gobernador Newsom es Esencial”.
Despite early appearances that 2021 is merely an extension of the turbulent and largely forgettable year 2020, the year will progress, and we will largely survive. Life will go on. And I will be around to make predictions for 2022.
Geez, I hope I'm right about that last one.
And there you have it. The year ahead outlined for your convenience; less than accurate but (hopefully) offered with wonderful expression. Don't call your investment broker just yet. You may want to sit back and see how this whole thing turns out.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
Bob has a couple unique personality characteristics. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to his (Bob's) opinion, and while he may not always be right, he is never in doubt. Enter at your own risk, and like all of our blog areas, we encourage you to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
We're not responsible for this guy.....
Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.