Monday, April 13, 2020

The New Normal (By Design?)

The Washington Post says we should all stay in quarantine, never leave home, read the Washington Post every day online, and order everything from Amazon, or from Whole Foods, for home delivery.  Say, that sounds like it might benefit one particular person, doesn't it?

I don't truck in conspiracy theories, but this virus lockdown is starting to look more and more ridiculous.  The media is hyping the crap out of it, even though, in a worse case scenario, the death rate is likely to be less than 3%, and even then, mostly people who would have died anyway from the cold or flu or stroke or heart attack, in the next 6-12 months.

Now, you can say that is mean-spirited, but it is reality and as I harp on a lot here, reality is value-neutral.  It just is what it is, and how you deal with it is where it takes on a value of good or bad.  Now, say this virus had a mortality rate like the Spanish Flu - and struck down people of all ages, young and old.  We'd really be shitting our pants, then.   But it isn't.

Getting back to "normal" will not be easy, and I suspect that "normal" will change from now on.  There will be a heightened awareness of viruses in the future, and perhaps modern medicine will start to take "the common cold" a little more seriously than "take two aspirin and call me in the morning."  Oh, right, I forgot - the miracle drug aspirin has its own issues, we found out.  When I was a kid, Mom handed them out like candy.  It's a miracle I'm still alive, eh?

But getting back to the task at hand, I suspect that people will be less likely to mingle and crowd around.   Face masks might become a "thing" as they were in China and Japan before this happened.  Yes, in countries that have a population density literally ten times higher than ours, people wear face masks - to fight off allergies, and to keep from getting sick.  Someone sneezes in a public place, and you walk though a cloud of mist that you cannot even see.  A face mask may prevent you from breathing in all that crap - or breathing out your own.

But I suspect it may be a while before people crowd into movie theaters, rock concerts, sports bars, and other venues, where people are jostling chock-a-block.  They may a lot of other side-effects as well, as I noted before.  But the major economic effect, I think, will be a lot of "brick and mortar" companies that were staggering around on their last legs, will keel over dead - just like Grandma.

Now, toss in the recession that we were due for anyway, and we may see some major changes to society.    During the Great Depression, people become desperate enough to embrace far-left and far-right ideologies.  Indeed, much of our "social safety net" such as Social Security, can be traced to that era.  Bernie's time may come, but he may be too old at this point to capitalize on it.  Sad to say, but AOC may be the wave of the future.

So in addition to enhancing the business of Whole Foods and Amazon, I suspect this recession (or depression) will also be good for far-left socialist politics.

It's a win-win for the Washington Post and the New York Times.  And now we know why they are hyping the crap out of this.