We might look back at 2011 and see it was the year when the tide turned back in favor of freedom, free enterprise and the bedrock American values that made the country great.
Nationally, a new Congress was sworn in and was able to put a halt to the destructive socialist policies crippling what should have been by all historical standards a vibrant economic recovery. The ship did not change directions, but it largely slowed our plunging deeper into the abyss.
Locally, there were also changes in the right direction, with voters in the city of Sarasota electing two new members to the Sarasota City Commission who promised more freedom for job-creators, more accountability in government spending and less government on the city’s taxpayers.
The Sarasota-Manatee economy fought valiantly to recover, battling against debilitating policy decisions out of Washington, D.C. Recovery is still creeping. Official unemployment remains far too high, and the unofficial rate remains distressingly high.
This past year saw the elimination of Osama bin Laden from the planet, thanks to President Obama’s decision to send in the SEALS to finish the job that Americans have long awaited in the wake of 9/11.
The earthquake and tidal wave that struck a devastating blow to Japan were awful in loss of life and property, but their long-term economic impact seems to have been overstated.
Then there was the phenomenon of the motley crowd making up Occupy Wall Street, which spread to Occupy Sarasota and other local variations. It looks like that misguided episode, thankfully, is fading away as quickly as it rose.
Now it is time to look ahead. Herewith is our wish list for the coming year:
• That Europeans see the error of their ways in having governments promise too many entitlements they cannot afford.
• That Israel remains safe.
• That Iran’s nuclear-bomb ambitions are thwarted — by the country’s own citizens overthrowing the tyrannical clerics. (Likewise with Syria’s Assad.)
• That the United States returns to its heritage as the beacon of freedom and prosperity and that we return to the values that made us the leading economic engine of the free world.
• That all of the men and women in the U.S. armed services remain safe and unharmed.
• That Americans awaken to see clearly the difference between two paths of life: liberty vs. the state — good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, freedom vs. servitude.
• That the right candidate is elected to lead the country and reverse the destructive, anti-American agenda of the present administration.
• That the miracle of all miracles occurs: Congress really and truly cuts spending and borrowing.
• That Americans embrace capitalism. But first they must understand it — that it is the reason we have what we have.
• That the Keystone pipeline is built in the United States — without the baseless opposition of the environmental obstructionists.
• That Floridians appreciate Gov. Rick Scott, who is doing the right things for the future of the state and its residents, even though they may be unpopular and offend some special interests.
• That Floridians deliver a resounding rejection of what Barack Obama stands for in the presidential election.
• That Florida voters retire U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. It’s time.
• That Florida’s economy shows surprising growth, leading the nation out its five-year depression and surpassing Texas as the place for business and jobs.
• That we go hurricane-free for a fifth consecutive year.
• That Sarasota and Manatee counties stop poaching each other’s companies by using taxpayer money as incentives. It is lose-lose for both counties.
• That Sarasota and Manatee counties stop corporate-welfare subsidies altogether. Government has no business subsidizing business.
• That the Benderson rowing center at University Parkway and Interstate 75 become what it has the potential to do — become new rocket fuel to expand the region’s tourism and economy beyond beaches and the arts.
City of Sarasota
• That the fledgling improvement in attitudes toward businesses would take root and create a marked change. Sarasota has suffered from an anti-business, anti-growth attitudes for too long.
• That the City Commission would have the fortitude to fix the pension plans (i.e. cut benefits) for its employees, which means going up against its two major unions. Taxpayers cannot afford the cost of these programs.
• That the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall would become an independent entity, no longer owned and operated by the city of Sarasota. Governments should not own and operate theaters.
• That the law-abiding residents of Newtown take back their neighborhoods from the thugs, gangs, druggies and murderers and that the community delivers a stern message: Crime must draw harsh punishment. That’s a great deterrent.
• That the city government and commissioners treat St. Armands Circle and downtown for what they are — two of the city’s rare, economic jewels! That means do what it takes to make it easier to draw more shoppers and diners.
• That Ringling College of Art and Design President Larry Thompson’s efforts to make Sarasota a center for creativity spreads like kudzu — leading a redevelopment boom on North Trail that even the naysayers and whiners embrace.
• That Gil Waters’ vision of a Vienna-like downtown, complete with a walkover over Tamiami Trail, comes to fruition.
• That the north Siesta Key bridge renovations proceed with so little disruption that they inspire grateful residents and businesses to hold a celebration for the contractors and FDOT when they are finished.
• That the Siesta Beach renovation and upgrade are completed within budget and with minimal impact on beach-goers. Maintaining the No. 1 beach in the U.S. should remain priority No. 1.
• That the county continues to see even higher tourism tax figures in 2012 than those generated in 2011, making Sarasota County one of the leading counties to emerge from our five-year depression. We’ve all had enough of the lousy economy!
• That the Florida Department of Transportation lowers the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph on Midnight Pass Road between the Beach Road and Stickney Point Road intersections and places four, painted crosswalks along the 1-mile stretch, with no paddle signs in the crosswalks.
• That Sarasota County and Siesta Village property owner Chris Brown amicably resolve their legal differences so no future lawsuits are necessary.