A lot happened in 2020. 
Let’s unpack the year and see what we can learn.
I’ll start with the Iowa caucuses. The neighborhood political meetings had value nearly 50 years ago when the modern version was invented. But that worth has long since worn off. 
Given the utter confusion last February, and the fact that neither Joe Biden nor Kamala Harris benefited from anything that happened in Iowa, I can’t imagine a scenario where the Democratic Party will sanction anything like the Iowa caucuses in 2024.
If Republicans are smart, they’ll let the Democrats take the lead on killing the caucuses, although that is clearly not where Iowa Republican chief Jeff Kaufmann is headed right now. 
Moving on …
Did you see the recent stories about how much money Iowa hospitals lost this year? 
Iowa Watch, a news service that I’ll return to later, put the loss at $433 million. 
Seventeen of Iowa’s 118 hospitals were in financial trouble before the pandemic, Iowa Watch reported, with half of the state’s hospitals “operating at a financial loss at the end of October.”
The pandemic has forced a growing number of Iowa hospitals to depend on handouts from federal and state programs to keep the doors open.
As time passes, it becomes increasingly obvious that the U.S. health care system is broken. 
The question now is: How do we fix it?  
Politicians talk about the evils of socialized medicine, but the fact is it is here and has been for some time. Socialized medicine is increasingly our default system. 
What we need to do now is figure out how to make it work for us, rather than against us. 
Speaking of broken systems, I was waiting until the end of the year to write a column about a huge increase in bankruptcies this year. 
But you know what? There is no increase. 
The number of bankruptcy filings in Iowa through November was down 20% from 2019. 
The decrease began in March, just as the pandemic was beginning. The decrease in filings got wider each month so that by November bankruptcies were down 40% from November 2019.
I’m sure there’s a reason, and I’d be really surprised if the numbers don’t explode at some point. 
But right now, I don’t know why or when. 
So let’s move on. 
There was marginally good news about climate change this year, in that there were enough serious weather events to convince many that the problems associated with a warming planet are real and are not going away.
If nothing else, the change in administrations should end our rapid descent into who knows what.
Many positives were associated with 2020, including the arrival of electric buses in the metro area, the opening of the Iowa Highway 141 “flyover” on Interstate 80-35, and continued progress on the downtown Lauridsen Skatepark and the Central Iowa Water Trails.
Perhaps the most intriguing news is the increase in media organizations interested in local and regional news. 
Some of those organizations, like Iowa Watch and Laura Belin’s BleedingHeartland.com, go back more than a decade, while others, such as Iowa Capital Dispatch, are more recent innovations. Iowa Watch and the Capital Dispatch are supported by nonprofits and make their news stories available at no charge to the general public, as well as through more traditional outlets, including the Des Moines Register, Cedar Rapids Gazette and Quad-City Times.
Also entering the Des Moines market is Axios Local, a national organization that plans to begin issuing a daily Des Moines newsletter early in 2021.  
All three organizations depend heavily on reporters who previously worked for the Register, Gazette or Times. 
I wish them all the best because when it comes to the news, nothing succeeds like competition.