IF I was a betting man this would be a pretty safe wager: One could pick a few dozen random names from the phone book and they'd do a better job predicting the future than the hapless wonders who comprise Forecasters Anonymous.
Regular readers will recognize the sad tradition. Each year as the calendar turns a group of self-important know-it-alls gathers to break bread together and gaze ahead at what might take place in the coming 12 months.
This has been going on for decades. The group changes a little over time - less than one might think, though, judging from all the graybeards bellying up to the table - but the end result is always the same. The Forecasters - representing business, industry, higher education, even, yes, media - are often in error, never in doubt.
TO SAY these folks are better at consuming calories than offering up sage wisdom is to state the painfully obvious. There seems to be an inverse relationship between belt size and brain size.
Let's prove it. Here are some of the predictions made one year ago, for the recently passed 2019:
• Most were sure the feds would green light the Ho-Chunk tribal casino and Wisconsin's new governor, Tony Evers, would have approved it by now. Um, no, on both counts.
• The House wouldn't dare impeach President Trump. Nobody told Nancy Pelosi, apparently.
• New Orleans Saints! Super Bowl champs! That's what the group gets for betting against Tom Terrific and the New England Patriots.
• And, no, the Chicago Cubs did not win the World Series.
• A white Christmas? Somewhere. Not here.
• Not many expected Tiger Woods to win another major tournament but, of course, he did.
THERE were more questions and more failed predictions. Let's just say we will spare readers the dismal record and move on to predictions for 2020. Our intrepid Forecasters' motto is, or at least should be: Next year!
• Well, let's start with the same dumb question people have been asking since Superman was an undocumented alien baby: Will the casino decision be made in 2020? And, of course, the optimistic answer is yes.
• Will voters re-elect Trump? Yes.
• Will the Tweetster-in-Chief carry Wisconsin in November 2020? Yes.
• Will the first place Milwaukee Bucks win the NBA championship? The decisive ones couldn't make up their collective mind. Fearless, they are!
• Will Beloit's new fire chief come from inside or outside the department? Outside.
• Will Tiger win a major next year? Yes.
• The Dow? It'll be over 30,000.
• The prime rate? Not much change; somewhere around 4.5%.
AND ON we go:
• Will Mitchell Trubisky still be quarterbacking the Chicago Bears when a new season starts? Much to the chagrin of Bears fans everywhere ... yes.
• Will a School District of Beloit grade reconfiguration plan be in place for fall 2020? The view is yes.
• Turner will have a better football record than Beloit Memorial. Let's hope for improvement from 2019 when Beloit had one victory and Turner had two.
• Incumbent Daniel Kelly will win the Wisconsin Supreme Court race.
• Will a tenant fill the Save-a-Lot space? Yes.
• Will Beloit College enrollment be higher? Yes.
• Super Bowl champs? Baltimore Ravens.
• World Series? New York Yankees.
• And here's a question no one ever expected to ask or answer: Will South Beloit have more than one legal marijuana store by the end of 2020? Sorry, weed lovers ... no.
AND SO passes one year while another dawns. The good news is the Stateline Area has been on a roll and there's no reason to believe 2020 will be any different, no matter the foolish predictions of Forecasters Anonymous.
In fact, over the long history of these misfit soothsayers, seldom has there been more cause for optimism going forward. A multitude of projects are either finishing or just getting started as January arrives, from the big Amazon project to Beloit College's Powerhouse and Alliant Energy's center to multiple housing initiatives. It's a good time to be part of the Stateline community.
Undimmed by past failures, Forecasters Anonymous charges ahead and wishes all the neighbors across the community a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020. May life continue to bless us all.
William Barth is the Editor of the Beloit Daily News.