OPINION: 2016: A Year of Problems Both Big and Small


2016 will be well-known in the U.S. as the year that Donald Trump was elected, and the EU will know it as the year of Brexit — to say nothing of the other sources of political turmoil. However, many people forget that in any relationship, be it with a man, a woman, or Fate itself, the little things can have just as big an impact as the head-line grabbers. Just like how an entire nest worth of angry ants can be just as terrifying to behold as one massive B-movie variant, this year’s slew of little problems simply cannot be ignored. While of course the giant angry insect also cannot be forgotten lest one be skewered on a mandible, the focus on this article will mainly be regarding relatively small issues — ones I’ve covered before.

March 24 – Austin adopts a “Ban the Box” policy, becoming the first city in Texas to do so. I was only able to write about this event after it was already too late, but all the same, Ban the Box means that former criminals will have to be trusted. The problem with the new policy is that trust’s primary flaw was realized when Caveman A discovered he could hit Caveman B over the head and steal all his stuff, and no matter how much us humans may claim to have progressed, people are still in the exact same positions as Caveman A and B were so many years ago, as the presence of internet scams and need for law enforcement both prove. However, there haven’t been any extreme news scandals regarding Ban the Box just yet, so perhaps things definitely won’t end in disaster after all.

June 23 – Britain votes to leave the European Union in what is known as the “Brexit”. While it’s hard to determine exactly what will happen when the movement to leave is actually started, the sheer amount of panic and controversy that has surrounded the referendum alone can only signal a whole lot of fun in the future.

Late August – Mylan starts charging more to keep its customers safe from the immense dangers posed by creatures in the Anthophila clade. The protection? The immensely rare and expensive drug known as Epinephrine. In spite of the very obvious measures they’ve taken over the years to reduce the costs of their life-saving devices, Mylan received an awful lot of flak for the rising price. The CEO of this company has stated that the broken healthcare system is to blame, but overall it’s Mylan itself that determines the price. Anyone with severe allergies definitely knows the value of life, and that value is, apparently, over six hundred dollars.

Early September – Wells Fargo discovers that 5,300 of its employees have been creating false accounts in an attempt to reap the benefits of inflated sales figures. Obvious connections with this incident and the two cavemen aside, I just want to say on a personal level that I feel really safe knowing that there are people like this out there and they might have my money. Or my parent’s money. I am totally not afraid that these people were able to create some two million false accounts for their own gain before somebody higher up in the chain finally found out what was going on.

November 8th – Donald Trump gets elected as President of the United States. While this may not be a problem in and of itself depending on your political leanings, the fact that everyone’s so divided over his election certainly is an issue. I suck at politics so I’m going to stop here before I say something stupid while the folks already in and preparing to enter the White House actually do something stupid okay shutting up now.

And a number of unfortunate events that have persisted all year:

The constant flow of knockoff mobile games and the sheer influx of incredibly bland and uncreative advertisements for them that I’ve been bombarded with year-round. It seems that people have, since the beginning of time immemorial, been attempting to rip off the long list of popular games, whether they’re endless runners like Temple Run to base-builders like Clash of Clans and Boom Beach, but I don’t even need to play the actual knockoffs to know that they’re not even doing a good job. The sheer amount of ads I’ve seen are often blatant lies regarding the actual product that is delivered, relying mainly on CGI and sex appeal to get clicks and downloads. I can only imagine the mind of someone who decides it’s a good idea to hit “download” after watching an ads like I’ve seen — and the fact that they keep popping up all the time makes it seem like they’ve actually worked, which is… a troubling thought at best.

The sheer amount of slowdowns and delays that have occurred in the school’s morning drop-off time. Once again, we find human nature means that people care more about themselves than others, as others have taken to cutting ahead in the lines or stopping early rather than getting to the proper drop off area closest to the building. After all, who cares about the several dozen other parents and their several dozen other children, mine is many times more important than all of theirs are!

The constant messes I’ve found in the bathrooms. While I understand that only a few of the bathrooms actually have trash cans (barring the toilets, which do not qualify), that does not give you an excuse to do things such as:

  • Putting gum in the toilets and urinals. You kept it in your mouth and chewed it for several minutes, surely it wouldn’t kill to keep it in your mouth a little longer.
  • Putting toilet paper in the sinks.
  • Leaving… stuff… on or near the sinks.

This is Westwood, one of the best high schools in the district – but if we can’t even use a toilet properly that says a long list of things about us.

And none of them are very nice things, mind.

Ultimately, this year has proven to be rather unfortunate even after we ignore the some of the more blatantly disastrous events that occurred. Xkcd’s 2017 comic noted that the scary thing about 2016 is that we now have to face this year with last year’s problems – which include everything from the aftermath of terrorist attacks to the aforementioned political turmoil caused by Brexit and Donald Trump’s election. However, the annoying things about 2016 are much smaller or simpler in nature – small enough for even you or I to fix.
All we need to do is try to fix them.