…and we are starting the new.
What has changed?
- Many of those who previously lived a relatively stable life, have lost it – forever.
- That includes the many small business owners, wiped out of cash, deeply in debt, too old to start over.
- Some of them had, optimistically and reasonably, taken on car/home/life debt, as they had stable jobs, and some savings. Gone. Not only unlikely to return in the near future, but they are less able to move, thanks to the anchor of a home.
- Over 65, retired, and depending on that investment account to supplement Social Security, and possibly a pension (most workers don’t have them). Some may have few alternatives but to move in with relatives. Others, to work for the rest of their lives – IF they can find a job.
- Those graduating – you are well and truly screwed. You won’t get much of a job for a long time, unless you are fortunate enough to have some experience in one of those fields that is still booming. Can’t think of too many at this time. Plus, you have debt – a LOT of debt. Unlike car loans, house loans, credit card debt, and the like, student loans are NOT dischargeable in bankruptcy. May you should have put all that debt on the VISA, eh?
Well that’s the bad news.
There are some bright spots. Many have learned to get along with what they have coming in as income. Some have taken up those old-time homey crafts – sewing, knitting, canning, home repair, gardening. All of which might stretch out what money does head their way.
Many families found extended time with family rewarding. Time to play with the kids, teach them some useful skills, assist with learning academic subjects, and just have family fun – card games, puzzles, Nerf gun fights, home theatrical play, taking up musical instruments.
Many stepped to community needs, volunteering at food banks, running errand for elderly/ill neighbors, finding ways to cheer up others, and making masks – a LOT of masks. All of which they shared, prompting others to do likewise. Sometimes, peer pressure is a GOOD thing.
Many learned to appreciate the average guys and girls – the nurses, cleaners, truckers, store clerks – all of those people who weren’t sitting around while the shutdown was on. Whether or not that appreciation lasts, it was nice – and long overdue.
Many, seeing their available cash dwindle, vowed to climb out of the Pit of Debt. If you have an interest in that, try the Dave Ramsey site – I have friends who swear by his ideas.
But, the rest of the world is in much worse circumstances. They are even deeper in debt, with less chance of getting out. And, for some (Yes, China, I’m TALKING about YOU!), the great efforts they made to hide their problems have led them to be widely distrusted. The speed at which countries are moving to detach them from dependency on supplies from China may well bring down Red China.
The main bright spot? Both that Trump is still hanging in there, despite the valiant efforts of the Anti- and Never-Trumps to bring him down. I’ve no doubt that the Failing Left (trademark pending) will whip their Media-boys into another frenzy – well, as soon as they can drum up another Fake Scandal to bring the Bad Orange Man down. It’s just that the Left is both obvious, and so damned bad at that conspiracy thingy. Their lies are beginning to surface, and they haven’t a clue how to bury them again, other than the willful blindness of the determinedly Anti-Trump.
Keep in mind, I’m not a Trump-bot, who can’t see his many flaws. It’s just that I don’t have infinite choices – I have to go with someone who, though carrying some baggage, is still heading to the station, and willing to board the train, to the right destination.
I’ve been connecting with several people on social media, who are good-hearted people who oppose Trump because he isn’t hitting their soft spot – they like to think of themselves as caring and selfless. They operate on an emotional level, and cannot be reached by reason or hard sense.
So, I’ve been working on a new approach for communications. I’m trying to introduce topics from an emotional standpoint.
It’s tough. I’m not generally a touchy-feely kind of person. I have to go against my preferred method of relying on logical reasons to support my views. Ultimately, I’m getting better response to what I write/post than if I used all the Spockian logic in the universe.
Just a thought – others will likely be better suited for that approach than I. I’d love to hear about your experiences with that mode.
First off, I hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day weekend. The kids are having a blast, we can grill up some hot dogs and hamburgers – now that the backyard is back in some kind of semblance of order, and the weather is perfect.
There’s a lot I could say about Memorial Day in principle. Most of my family is/was military. I never joined, and it’s something that has periodically bothered me. I’ve been exploring some reservist options before I age out completely, at the suggestion of Tom Kratman. But aside from all that, well… I’m not a big “this is what this holiday means to me personally” kind of guy. I just hope if you are active duty out in the sticks, or like my brother, stuck in the middle of nowhere doing COVID testing, you can find some rest and fun at some point throughout all this.
COVID continues to be a mess, and arguments over continuing or ending the lockdown have ascended to idiotic status. Most of these people don’t know anything about anything, but a few media buzzwords circulate and they think they are experts. I don’t know how it’s going to go, personally. I continue in a form of semi-lockdown myself, working from home and leaving only rarely. But I am an introvert, and a UI developer. For me, staying away from people is kind of great. Certainly, it’s not much of strain on me. I imagine it is different for others.
As election 2020 approaches, everything is all up in the air. I have no predictions. If COVID is still out in the wild come November, things are going to get messy. There has been a great deal of speculation that voting by mail increases the potential for fraud. Whether or not this is really true, the perception is there, and that could be dangerous. Before COVID, I would have said Trump would probably win. Give him 3-to-1 odds, especially against that doddering old fool, Biden. Really, Democrats? That’s the best you could come up with? Tulsi Gabbard might have had a chance at reconciling some of the tribal madness and appealing to some Trump converts. But Biden? Without this Black Swan event, that was probably a foregone concludion. But COVID and the economic damage mean it’s difficult to make any meaningful prediction, save that it’s going to be a nightmare no matter how it shakes out, probably.
On a more positive note, some of my best author friends are having a Memorial Day sale, and I can vouch for the quality of most of these authors. My friend Hans G. Schantz led the charge, but we also have some of my favorites like Travis Corcoran and L. Jagi Lamplighter. Give it a go and pick up some new reads if you’re interested. My own novel, Eternal Crusade (this title is tentative at the moment) is about 50% complete. At my current speed, I figure it might be done before the end of the year. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in some excerpts. Also, Terra Nova: Wars of Liberation, containing my short, is now available in paperback form and a lower Kindle price.
It’s also worth noting that as time become difficult for many Americans, I’ve noticed a definite drop off in SJW nonsense. I think even they know that the patience for 59739.5 genders has cratered now that a lot of folks are worrying about whether or not they’ll even have jobs tomorrow. Good times can breed a high degree of political idiocy. Bad times can sometimes restore a little realism. That’s not to say this is a good thing. More like a silver lining in a really nasty storm cloud.
As far as political ranting goes… well, I’ve got to get something off my chest. This Coronavirus business has made people insane. I don’t know any other way to put it. There are those out there who are convinced this thing is so bad, we need to stay locked up until the end of time, and in trademark Leftist fashion, if even one person dies…. Wuhan Flu is serious, certainly serious enough to take some sensible precautions. There is no evidence I’ve seen that suggests it’s the fucking plague.
On the other hand, there are those who are going on as if nothing is happening, and they are pretty dumb too. Beaches were opened back up recently in my state. And by itself, that is fine. I’m worried that excessive use of executive power to enforce the lockdown can go very badly in the end. But just because you can do a thing does not mean you should. Hordes of people going to the beach to party… well that’s pretty dumb too. It’s one thing if you need to break quarantine to earn a living, to get food, to do the things you need to do for you and yours.
It’s quite another to party as if nothing is happening. Again, it’s their right. But it’s stupid.
Worse than both of those, though, is the SURETY so many folks posting all over social media appear to have. They use the word “facts” after a cursory 5 minute Google search, or watching some journalist on TV, one who hasn’t been right about anything since before Donald Trump was elected President. The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect is in full force. And they get so damned angry when you dare to point out that, quite frankly, very few people know what they are talking about.
I don’t either! But at least I’ll say so. We’re not really going to have solid numbers on this disease until the threat has passed, in all likelihood. It’s one thing to make a semi-educated guess based on the fragmentary data we have now. It’s quite another to claim it’s a “fact”.
Take fatality rates by country. Some Leftists have been bloviating about how America has the highest death toll! Okay. America has, for example, roundabout 5 times the population of Italy. You need to compare death rate per capita. Second, China’s numbers are most likely bogus, and probably much higher than they’ve reported. I have no specific evidence of this, but that is standard operating procedure for the ChiComs: saving face and burying the truth. They certainly buried the impact of the disease when it was in its early stages. Why should anybody trust their numbers now?
But beyond that, data collection methods differ by country. For instance, if someone has cancer, and coronavirus, and dies… which one is labeled as the cause? How accurate is the tally in each country? How corrupt is each country’s government? Speculating on relative death rates per capita using the official numbers as a base, I get that. It’s probably still inaccurate, but it’s something to look at.
Being SURE about the numbers… that’s a different kettle of fish.
The same operates on the side of some Rightists, many of whom appear to be taking the threat too lightly given the lack of data. If you don’t know for sure how bad it is, it makes sense to take some precautionary measures until you can assess the risk more accurately. I get that the various governments are exceeding the bounds of the Constitution in many places, and need to be smacked down, in case these measures acquire some kind of permanence. But one of the few legitimate functions of a government is to protect the citizenry from the kinds of existential threats individuals, alone, cannot effectively defend against. The same moral justification for the existence of the military may be valid in the case of an international pandemic.
I am very, very worried about politicians getting a taste for power right now. So I’m not going to shit overmuch on the people who are angry at the limitations. Again, I don’t have enough accurate data or knowledge to make these kinds of calls. Neither do the politicians. Or the protesters. So do as you will, as makes sense to your own personal risk assessment.
But understand that not even the doctors are sure about much of anything right now.
And be ready to change your position as better data trickles in. We may find that we grossly overreacted to this.
Then again, we ma
OK, that’s not QUITE right. Some of these things are not like the others.
I’m referring to the death rate in different countries. It varies widely, which would indicate that we really can’t use statistics from one country to predict what will happen in others.
In other words, using them to set up computer models of predicted outcomes will not be reliable.
See the map (from a Daily Mail story):
France shows 7, 574 deaths for a caseload of 90,843 – that’s a 8.3% death rate.
The UK shows 4,120 deaths for 42,449 cases – an almost 10% death rate.
Italy: 15,362 deaths, 124,632 cases – over 12%!
Clearly, these are NOT the numbers we are seeing in the USA. For us, as of yesterday:
9,620 deaths, 336,851 cases – death rate slightly under 3%
NY is almost 1/2 that total number of cases – 123,018. Deaths in NY – 4,159. That brings NY’s death rate to just under 3.4%
Not great, but not at the levels of many European countries.
What does that all mean?
What needs to be addressed is WHY death rates differ so widely among the states. States with similar number of cases have widely differing death rates:
IL – 274 deaths, 11,256 cases – 2.4% death rate
PA – 150 deaths, 11,510 cases – 1.3% death rate
Both states contain urban and rural parts, both have impoverished people/old people/ill people. And, yet, dramatically different outcomes. Go check out the stats yourself, and come to your own conclusions.
This epidemic will be the focus of many epidemiological studies for many centuries (should civilization survive – which, I think likely). But, for now, using the models to make policy for our country would be foolish, as long as the models are based on the extremely high death rates of some countries.
One major way America does planning for public health needs to change – I address it here.
Apparently, in emergencies (such as the precious opportunity to disparage a Republican), ALL Lives become worthwhile.
At least, that’s what the Left is saying now.
I mean, whatever happened to “just a clump of cells” or Obama’s famous response about how his infamous health insurance would affect unimportant people.
“Look, the first thing for all of us to understand is that we actually have some — some choices to make about how we want to deal with our own end-of-life care…we as a culture and as a society [can start] to make better decisions…at least we can let doctors know and your mom know that, you know what? Maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”
Funny. You might almost think that it wasn’t all about the principles, but about the potential for political advantage.
Good Lord – and I feel justified in invoking Him in this – what a mess since I’ve last dropped a blog post here. I have a mix of good, bad, and ugly. Some may prefer the bad news first, but I’ll lead with the good instead, because in light of a lot of folks being stuck indoors for the duration, this may be a helpful recommendation.
My good friend Francis is releasing his new book The Warm Lands for free this Friday (Amazon link). We’re all going to need a lot of reading material, I suspect. By nature, I am an introvert, and so I suppose being stuck indoors with a virtual stack of books is not the worst thing that could happen. In any event, folks, nab yourself a copy and pass it along to your friends. You’ll need the entertainment in the days to come.
But then I look at my various investments. You know, a friend of mine known ’round the world as ClarkHat told me I’d be better off going cash. I didn’t listen. Usually I have an internal heuristic: ClarkHat is always right. It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s well north of 95%. Next time I’ll remember that a bit better. I kept a lot of my holdings in gold, and even that tanked, which was pretty damned shocking. Last Thursday I made the mistake of looking at my investment balances, and it took about a quarter of a bottle of cheap scotch going down the hatch to numb the pain.
Preparations-wise, I am good to go. Being the paranoid introvert that I am, I was well ahead of the game in stocking up with canned goods and various foodstuffs. Ammunition? Heh. It’s me. I’ve got enough to conquer my zip code without too much difficulty. I joke about leading a Mad Max Road Warrior gang up the I-4 corridor to sack Disneyworld and make it the seat of my hive of scum and villainy. I’m only mostly joking.
Look, I’m not a doctor. So I won’t dispense advice of the nature, save to mention that my brother is in medical, in the military, and he’s been indicating that things are very bad. They are working him to the bone on lab testing, and the information coming down from on high hasn’t been very optimistic. I’ll summarize my thoughts on the matter:
- This isn’t the zombie apocalypse. Fatality rates seem to vary from 0.7% at the low end to 7% at the high end, depending on a lot of factors. ~2% seems to be pretty standard, insofar as we can tell. That’s not enough to collapse a civilization, but…
- …It is enough to collapse an economy. If the lockdown/suppression activity ends in a few weeks, I expect the markets will snap back into place like a rubber band. Most of the losses will be made good. Business as usual will resume. But that does not seem likely. If lockdowns continue for months without end, I expect the economic damage will be severe. The rubber band will break. Enter a depression to make the ’08 recession look like a walk in the park.
- The fact that Trump is already talking about massive stimulus and UBI packages indicates that he’s well aware of this. Things are going to get ugly, economically. Prepare accordingly.
- If all of the above is true, we might get a major political shift. We’re talking once-in-a-generation shift.
Consider that white liberal urbanites have been spotted lining up at gun stores in otherwise gun-unfriendly locales like California. Deep down, I think they know the same truth that Francis has talked about at his place on more than one occasion: urban race relations are very poor. Add social justice race hustling to the mix, and… well we saw what happened in Ferguson. With this crisis comes the opportunity for a great deal of nefarious behavior. We know it. Hustlers know it. And the urbanite cosmopolitans – for all their supposed enlightened sophistication – know it too.
This goes far larger than that, though. Border shutdowns are being discussed even in the European Union. We may see a shift away from globalism, and its supply chain vulnerabilities to diseases like this, to stronger borders and domestic manufacturing and supply chains despite a higher cost in dollars, because now awareness of vulnerability to situations like this one is added to the “cost” column. The fact that China was saber-rattling with Trump about the possibility of stopping pharmaceutical shipments to the US is a big red flag, and probably a knee-jerk misstep on the part of the Chinese. That only adds to this perception.
So while Trump appears to be shifting Leftward on policies like temporary UBI, the rest of the populace may be shifting rightward on matters of border security and “social justice” stupidity. How much time does anyone have for genderqueer fartkin when the economy is taking a gigantic dump and a worldwide pandemic is in full swing? Expect patience for that stupidity to evaporate like a fart in a hurricane.
I don’t know where this leaves the 2020 election, except that if Trump plays his cards right, he could come out looking like a prophet with regard to his on-the-record opposition to Chinese supply chain dominance in particular, and globalism in general. But either way, one of Taleb’s Black Swans has made its appearance, and I expect the ramifications from COVID-19 to continue to echo for many years. The political and economic fallout may well be an order of magnitude greater than the disease itself.
Meanwhile, active debate continues among many very intelligent people in my circle as to how bad the disease really is. It’s probably not worth buying 500 boxes of toilet paper – as some have done. But if you don’t have 3 months of food, water, and other consumables now, you better get on that. A 2% fatality rate is enough that things will be shutdown. No polity can tolerate that high of a death rate for an extended period of time in the modern era. Governments will take all kinds of measures – for good or ill – to prevent it. Navigating the suppression of the disease through social distancing while avoiding catastrophic economic collapse will be a hard road. I expect some countries will fail in this regard. Others (like China) will probably turn to outright tyranny to suppress it.
It may very well be that the WWE President
Comacho… er… Trump is exactly what the doctor ordered (sorry, the pun was irresistible). Either way, as a friend of mine said earlier today, this will further reduce the Obama legacy to oblivion, sandwiched between the 9/11 president, and the Kung Flu president. An empty suit who faced little in the way of challenge.
Stay safe, my friends, and attend to your reading lists. May God keep you.