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Matt Damon, Fran Drescher and an Indian Soybean Farmer on 2024

What are your hopes for 2024? See how they compare with those of 11 people I put that question to. (Most of them replied by email. The people from Afghanistan and India spoke by phone.)

Fran Drescher, an actress and the president of SAG-AFTRA, which staged a 118-day strike against movie and television producers this year:

In 2024, I am looking forward to a sudden and essential collective human emotional growth spurt, whereby empathy becomes the main emotion that informs all behavior.

Andrew Marsh, the chief executive of Plug Power, a fuel cell supplier:

My hope is to see 2024 as the year we get serious about decarbonizing hard-to-abate heavy industrial manufacturing sectors. Building out a nascent U.S. hydrogen industry is essential to moving these industrial processes to carbon neutrality.

Uri Levine, an entrepreneur and a co-founder of Waze:

I want people to find a purpose in life. When you have a life purpose or figure out what your destiny is, your life becomes simpler, everything is clearer, and you’re happier, healthier and richer. You know what you have to do. The purpose becomes the north star to guide you. My purpose is to create value.

Jason Dube, a package truck driver from Poland, Maine:

As a 17-year Teamster at UPS, I’m incredibly proud of the historic contract we won in 2023. I hope our victory will spark real change for working people in 2024, including my fellow package delivery drivers at Amazon. Let’s make 2024 another year for working people.

Danielle Allen, a professor and the director of the Allen Lab for Democracy Renovation at Harvard:

My hope for 2024 is that ballot initiatives in Idaho, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada that seek to end party primaries and deliver election systems that make our votes count will win. That would signal that we are on our way to the healthy democracy we deserve.

Matt Damon, an actor and a co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity:

Water.org has changed more than 60 million lives with access to safe water or sanitation. My hope in the new year is that we continue to accelerate our impact so that millions more people living in poverty can experience the life-changing power of safe water.

Shakera Shams, who lost her job as a journalist for Afghan national television when the Taliban took over and is helping women artisans create products for export through Aseel, a tech start-up:

I really hope, and my biggest hope for 2024, is for schools and universities to be opened for all Afghan ladies and girls. Right now few people have any hope in their daily lives. (Translated from the Dari.)

Clifford Winston, a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Economic Studies program:

My hope for 2024 is that the public soundly rejects Donald Trump’s effort to regain the presidency. He is truly a threat to capitalism and freedom. Examples are his support for trade protection, restrictions on high-skilled immigration, maintenance of the Jones Act and prohibitions on foreign airlines serving U.S. domestic routes, failure to privatize ports, airports and air traffic control and use of antitrust as retribution for his private-sector critics.

Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to City Journal:

I hope that in 2024, the Democrats (and, to a less likely extent, legacy pre-Trump Republicans) who wish to defeat Donald Trump belatedly realize that the former president is not the problem to overcome; they are. Voters care about the bipartisan failure to protect Americans from severe economic disruptions, the failure to control the border, the tolerance for crony capitalism and low-grade political corruption, the incoherent foreign policy that has led to America’s decline on the world stage. If you are talking about Trump rather than what makes so many people so desperate to send a message for change that they would vote for him, you are losing to Trump.

Martin Schmidt, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute:

The IBM Quantum System One installed on R.P.I.’s campus is a beautiful engineering marvel with a golden, chandelier-like structure suspended within a cryostatic chamber, designed to keep temperatures orders of magnitude colder than outer space in order to cool the 127-qubit processing chip and protect its fragile quantum states. My hope for 2024 — and beyond — is that the creativity of the young unleashes the full power of quantum computing to help us solve seemingly intractable problems in medicine, climate, energy, materials and other fields.

Rakesh Jaiswal, a soybean farmer in Madhya Pradesh, India:

For the past three, four years, soybeans are really getting spoiled. It either rains too much or too little. We can’t really say anything about the weather. I have a son. He is 11 years old. And I have one daughter. She’s 7 years old. I hope that they get better at all subjects, English, et cetera. My son’s teacher told him that if you have a laptop at home you can study, but my financial condition isn’t in a place for me to be able to give him one. (Translated from the Hindi.)


Elsewhere: Cigarettes Are Up and Airfares Are Down

“Inflation” means an overall rise in the price level, but prices don’t rise uniformly. Some prices even fall. Take a look at this chart of what’s happened to prices of various items — some important, some less so — since the pandemic began in 2020. If some of the numbers look wrong to you, take it to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which records the prices of about 80,000 items a month, “representing a scientifically selected sample of the prices paid by consumers for goods and services purchased.”


Quote of the Day

“The very concept of ‘industry’ is an artificial categorization. Often the most important competition any business will face is from entrants who are not hamstrung by assumptions about what their ‘industry’ expects of them.”

— Rita McGrath, “Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen” (2019)

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