In the first week of January 2017, I boldly laid forth within the pages of this blog a work of tremendous consequence. It was the issuance of my (occasionally) annual ritual of predictions and prognostications for the coming year. At that point in time, it was the most widely read Cluttered Desk piece for the year. Of course, it was just the fourth article to be published in 2017, so that isn’t really saying much. Still, the industry seems to wait with bated breath (or was that baited breath?) and rapt attention for my (intermittently) annual predictions to be forthcoming.

I have no idea why. History shows that I really suck at them.

Nevertheless, now that we have slogged to the end of yet another year, it is time to look back and see how well my forecasting fared for 2017. Below are the initial predictions, each followed by my “End of Year Analysis.”

  1. President Donald Trump will appoint a Federal Commission on Workers’ Compensation
    President Trump will appoint a Federal Commission to identify and recommend improvements for the workers’ compensation system. The 142 member group, comprised mainly of fellow students from Ivanka’s Hot Yoga class, will toil for 10 months trying to identify the most pressing issues for the industry. They will ultimately be overwhelmed by the systems current complexities, causing complete work stoppages for the panel. Originally intended as a key part of the “Drain the Swamp” campaign, workers’ comp will ironically instead “swamp the drain”, causing chaos and confusion throughout the government. The commission’s final report will be issued via Twitter, with 7 characters left to spare.

    End of Year Analysis: While I was clearly not correct with this prediction, and had no idea Twitter would double the available space allowing for a more comprehensive report, there were elements that were valid. Most of the fellow students of Ivanka’s Hot Yoga class have instead been appointed to Federal Judgeships, and are currently awaiting confirmation. Additionally, the complexity, work stoppages, chaos and confusion described were present in virtually every other area of government, so I am taking this one as a win.


  2. A Federal Emergency Guest Worker Program will be established
    Construction of the long awaited “Great Wall Numero Dos” will begin along our southern border just four weeks after the new administration is in place. Unfortunately, it will be discovered that in the third week of new management the country deported all the people willing to perform the back-breaking labor in the middle of the desert southwest. An emergency Guest Worker program will be established to allow people to return to the country to build the wall designed to keep them out of the country in the first place.

    End of Year Analysis: A swing and a miss. We haven’t actually yet seen a wall, and all the guest workers are being detained in the basement of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Maybe next year.


  3. Florida will successfully reform its workers’ compensation system
    Florida legislators will pull out all the stops to fix the state’s ailing workers’ compensation system this year. When the dust of reform settles, the system will be housed in a large canvas tent with three rings, and there will be shiny new cages for all the animals. Caretakers will be allocated glistening new poop-scooping shovels. The job of Chief Deputy Judge of the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims will be retitled “Ringmaster”.

    End of Year Analysis: Yep. Nailed it. Even though the legislature completely missed the mark on any successful legislation, this is the way things currently appear in the Sunshine State. In fact, with the unexpected closing of the fabled Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus this year, Florida comp is now the only act in town. And we can be sure our elected reps will be back to double down for the same results this next year.


  4. The State of California will Opt Out
    Unhappy with the fact that much of the rest of the nation did not agree with them in the recent Presidential election, California will push for and ultimately be successful at separating itself from the United States of America. The effort will get a huge boost when petitions supporting the measure gain 162 million signatures from people living outside the state. The move will not quite be complete, however, as most of the inland and southernmost regions will choose to remain a part of the US. This will leave Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay area to go their own ways. They will have screaming internet and cutting edge technology, but no food, since all of that is grown inland. Additionally, most LA commuters will have to register as foreign workers, since their 3 hour commute means they now reside on foreign soil. The newly formed country of Los Angelinos will have an immediate crisis in workers’ comp, since their outrageous injury costs will no longer be subsidized by what used to be the rest of the state. The Chairperson of the Los Angelinos People’s Politburo will embark on a reform effort modeled after Florida efforts. Their new system will look quite similar, with the exception that their tent will be resistant to earthquakes, and all bathrooms will be gender neutral.

    End of Year Analysis: Didn’t happen. Instead the state appears to be preparing for an invasion from the rest of the country. At least that what it looks like, since they are busy burning everything in advance of our arrival. (Too soon?)


  5. Healthcare reform will meet medical marijuana
    As Republicans dismantle the Affordable Care Act, they will strive to develop an affordable alternative to insure prompt medical care for the dozens of people who actually paid for health insurance they obtained through the government exchanges. It will be discovered that locally sourced, organically grown and affordable medical marijuana will be the singularly stellar solution for the country’s medical ills. Free marijuana will be distributed to all persons with any illness or ailment, and will serve as the single authorized medicine listed on the new health systems formulary. No one will really recover from anything, but no one will really care, either. The national anthem will be changed to Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (Everybody must get stoned).

    End of Year Analysis: Actually, closer than anyone realizes, dude.


  6. Artificial Intelligence will make inroads into workers’ compensation
    The first rounds of automation will be employed in the workers’ comp industry in 2017. Artificial Intelligence will make inroads in claims management, transportation and the medical industry. Surprisingly, Artificial Intelligence will make the most dramatic advances in the online publishing arena; notably many workers’ comp blogs will be taken over by these wunderkind computers. This will be ironic, as it will represent the first time actual intelligence of any kind has been applied to that sector.

    End of Year Analysis: Clearly from this post you can see that this did not happen, at least as related to blogs. There is nothing here that anyone can remotely equate with intelligence, artificial or otherwise.


  7. Workers’ Compensation will almost be named Workers’ Recovery
    Long a personal goal of this prognosticator, the industry will come perilously close to being renamed “Workers’ Recovery” this year. The International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) will commit to the cause and put the full power of its influence behind it. The effort almost succeeds, but falters slightly in the final moments. The German representatives on the Industry Rebranding Committee insist on a slight change to the word “Recovery”. The final result is the industry will be called “Nur die Klappe Halten und Arbeiten”, which essentially means, “Just Shut Up and Work”. All is not lost, however. The people at successfully obtain the domain name, assuring that these inane predictions can continue for years to come.

    End of Year Analysis: Nope. We have to wait another year. Let’s hope we did not buy the domain for nothing. Otherwise it’s 8 bucks shot to hell.


  8. Illinois will dramatically simplify and improve its workers’ comp program
    In a completely unforeseen move, Illinois legislators will totally scrap their currently chaotic workers’ compensation system and replace it with a simplified, recovery centric program based on an advocacy based claims model. Injury durations decrease, litigation ceases to exist, and everyone benefits from what is now considered the model workers’ compensation program in the nation. On a completely unrelated note, pigs will fly and hell will freeze over.

    End of Year Analysis: Wrong, but not for lack of effort by the purely dysfunctional pols in Illinois. Following the lead of their Florida counterparts, legislators in the Prairie State spent massive hours crafting, debating and revising proposed workers’ compensation legislation that essentially had nothing to do with the actual workers’ comp problems in the state. The legislature passed HB 2622, which was intended to create a state-owned workers’ comp insurer. The primary effect of this would be to form a new carrier that would, just like its private counterparts, struggle with the morass that is Illinois comp; plus, it would be an entity that possessed reserves the politicians could periodically raid. Illinois Governor Rauner vetoed that bill, and then immediately phoned a bomb threat into the State House, hoping to delay more depraved insanity from that august body. House Speaker Michael Madigan, responding to the veto, called Rauner a “poopyhead” and vowed the house will come up with bold new stupid ideas for workers’ comp next year. So, we still have that to look forward to.


  9. Amazon will sell workers’ compensation insurance
    Online retailing behemoth Amazon will start to sell workers’ compensation insurance via their Prime “One Click Order” system. Alternately, Amazon Echo owners will be able to order a policy by saying, “Alexa, buy me workers’ compensation coverage”. Policy paperwork will be delivered within one hour via drone. The most unique part of Amazon Workers’ Comp coverage will be the handling of injured workers. When an injury occurs, employers will simply be able to return the broken worker to Amazon by generating a return authorization and shipping label from within their account area.

    End of Year Analysis: I would have been absolutely spot on with this one, if the behemoth online retailer hadn’t discovered that selling prescription drugs was just so darn much more profitable. Clearly the hurdles of pursuing this lucrative addition took more resources than previously thought, scuttling what I am sure were solid plans to launch workers’ comp underwriting systems. I think that this prediction was simply ahead of its time, and may find its way back into future spasmodically produced annual predictions from the Cluttered Desk.


  10. Bob Wilson will lose 50 pounds – again
    Suffering with chronic knee issues and having been told to lose weight by his Orthopedic Surgeon, Bob Wilson will try in vain to find a new Orthopedic Surgeon, preferably one that is 300 pounds and smokes. Failing in that measure, he will lose 50 pounds. Again. This will bring his total lifetime weight loss to over 1,750 pounds.

    End of Year Analysis: Oh, I so got this one right! Despite everyone saying it was impossible, I defied the odds and lost 50 pounds! Unfortunately, I also gained 52 pounds, so the year didn’t end quite as well as I had hoped.

And there you have it. Much better than previous years, I must say. I shall return in a few weeks with a look at what is in store for 2018. Or I won’t. Whatever. Until then, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (Bet you didn’t see that coming – but I did. It is just what I do.)


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