The 2020s begin today, arriving at a time of increasingly bitter political rancor — a disturbing state of affairs that we hope will give way soon to the better angels of our nature. But that’s hardly our only aspiration after the tumultuous 2010s, which began with the country still reeling from the Great Recession and ended with three years of spectacularly divisive leadership from President Trump. In no particular order, here’s our wish list for how things might be improved during the decade ahead, if we resolve to change them:
A radical transformation in the way we produce and consume power, along with an end to our reliance on fossil fuels. This is more than just a wish; the world has known for years that human behavior is imperiling the habitability of the Earth.
A return to respect and comity, not just in politics, but in how we handle all our disagreements. We hope as well that all Americans recognize that there are such things as facts, and they should be indisputable.
A realization by the various generations of Americans that we’re not rival interest groups with little in common. OK, boomer? OK, millennial?
For the sake of the planet and for Los Angeles’ embattled commuters, a public transit renaissance in which Angelenos can leave their cars behind and enjoy fast, convenient and comfortable rides on new rail lines (especially the infamously clogged 405 corridor) and on buses that travel in their own traffic-free lanes.
A complete, global shift away from disposable plastic to packaging that’s fully recyclable or compostable.
2028 Olympic Games that leave Los Angeles in the best financial and physical condition of its life.
A recognition that our support of “diversity” should include not just diversity of race, gender, social class and sexual orientation, but diversity of viewpoint as well.
Access to affordable healthcare in the United States as a human right. Once we embrace that idea as a society, the solutions will flow from there.
A coordinated effort by policymakers, educators, business owners and labor leaders to prepare Americans for widespread automation and artificial intelligence in the workplace, so that the technological advances of the 2020s help rather than replace employees, and ultimately make work safer and more productive.
Public schools, colleges and universities in California that are funded at a level that allows them to produce students ready for the next generation of work. The era of nickel-and-diming public education in this state needs to end.
A Chinese government that respects human rights, the dignity of the individual and the commitments it made (but routinely ignores) to abide by World Trade Organization rules. That country must stop abusing the Uighur population in western China and trampling on the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.
A California housing building boom, with lots of new homes in all shapes and sizes and prices so Californians of all income levels can find and afford to put a reliable roof over their heads. Political leaders at all levels of state government need to rally behind real solutions, rather than clinging to housing and zoning policies that have failed.
Corporate C-suites and boards of directors that reflect the gender and ethnic diversity of the U.S. itself.
Homeless and low-income Angelenos, keys in hand, walking into the 10,000 units of housing that Los Angeles voters helped finance through Proposition HHH. While we’re at it, how about cutting the number of people falling into homeless each day in Los Angeles from 150 to zero?
An end to federal and state policies that enable or, in some cases, promote the concentration of wealth. Once the land of the upwardly mobile, the United States has become a land of near-stagnant median incomes and intergenerational poverty, despite a steadily growing economy.
An end to the death penalty, which no civilized society should inflict on itself.
An electric grid in California that no longer causes wildfires or relies on massive preventive blackouts to deliver power safely.
A long-term fix for the looming shortfall in funding for Social Security benefits. Longer lifespans and an aging population are combining to threaten Social Security benefits for future generations, and the longer policymakers wait to fix the problem, the harder it will be to solve.
An end to the terrorizing of the Rohingya Muslims by the government of Myanmar, whose security forces have burned villages, committed mass murder and raped civilians, according to human rights groups.
An end to the forever wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Korean peninsula.
U.S. elections free of both voter suppression and voter apathy.
A solution to the unsustainable growth in college debt. The heavy burden of this debt is distorting people’s career choices and slowing the economy.
Comprehensive immigration reforms that secure the country’s borders while providing a path to legal residency for people who have been living in the shadows for a decade or more.
Sensible and workable approaches to gun control, including banning combat-style firearms for civilian use. With Congress approving $25 million in funding for gun safety research, and the National Rifle Assn. reeling from external investigations and internal turmoil, we’re hoping the tide has finally turned.
An end to the stalemate between Israelis and Palestinians that has left the once-promising two-state solution moribund and the century-old conflict as far from resolution as ever.
A reversal of the habitat destruction and other forces that have threatened the existence of orangutans, vaquita porpoises, western lowland gorillas and other endangered species.
A new determination to lift more people out of poverty in this land of plenty. That means finding and funding programs that work, rather than cutting holes in the safety net and expecting those who fall out to land on their feet.
Ratification, at long last, of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
A Russian government that abandons Vladimir Putin’s military expansionism and intrusive meddling in foreign elections, choosing instead to be a responsible player on the world stage.
An end to the politically expedient attacks on American public servants. There is no “deep state,” nor any vast conspiracy of government employees determined to make their elected leaders fail.