What I’m seeing here in Pittsburgh is similar to what’s happening elsewhere in the mid-west, lots of people believing that rituals will save them from doom and gloom. That wiping down things with alcohol, wearing essentially ineffective surgical masks and bandanas that demonstrate they’re “doing something” and playing out the opera as dictated by experts who have never seen anything like this before and are all guessing.
Sunday, on Fareed Zakaria’s show, expressed the idea that the virus most probably did start from a wet market in China where a large number of previously “wild” animals were herded together (as food stuffs) in proximity to lots of humans, some probably sick or with immune deficiency for whatever reason. It’s easy for any virus to follow these pathways from sick animals to sick humans. And as more and more of the natural habitat of these animals is destroyed to build Hiltons and parking lots or simply to slash and burn, the pathway from animal to human becomes smoother. I think that’s a very viable theory and what it means as a practical matter is that this virus made a very smooth transition to the globe and for all those reasons we can expect more of the same.
In Pittsburgh, we are now in the “Yellow Zone” of social activity, which means “some” businesses are now open in a limited sense, with nods to social distancing and crowd control, lots of wiping things down and some kind of mask for all. But Americans always find creative ways around anything that inconveniences them. Two businesses that are STILL shut down in the Yellow Zone are gyms and hair salons. I have no idea why, but I have an appointment at a local Gym tomorrow to start building my functional ability back again. I also have an appointment next week for a haircut after two months. If I look around, I can find a place to go out to eat. So, I would hazard a guess that all over the country, most of these admonitions for the viral infestation are simply ignored or things like surgical masks are being touted as “real” prevention. What that means is that the virus will persist for a LONG time and lots of things will become the “new normal”.
What will be the new Normal? Last night on the news, they explored the probability that we will become a “Virtual” nation. That means computer visualization of meetings, education and everything else formerly requiring face-to-face discourse. It’s already happening. Schools and universities have already served notice that they are most assuredly transitioning to computer classes, students participating by laptops from home. Harvard School of Medicine has served notice that they are rapidly gearing up for visualized classes from home. The dehumanizing effect of this kind of faux social interaction is truly scary.
Everyone accesses their daily items and desires from Amazon, Craig’s List and eBay, with more added every month. It’s simply more convenient and those on-line businesses have EVERYTHING for sale, cheaper than the increased cost of the necessary middle-man in structural stores. Brick & Mortar businesses are closing right and left. The last one yesterday was GNC food supplements, a huge office building and shops all over the country. They’re going to go the way of Radio Shack, with thousands of jobs going with them.
The concerts that normally fill stadiums have all been cancelled with no hint of when, if ever, they will return. That means the Kenny Chesney concert scheduled for next week is out and all the football games that normally number over 50,000+ rabid fans that come from all over the country to see the Steelers in Heinz Field are cancelled till further notice. Similar actions for hockey and baseball. What they didn’t mention is what’s happening right now. All those 50,000 rabid fans eat food, drink beer and park their cars in Pittsburgh, bringing in a ton of money and literally supporting industries. All gone, and with it those industries and jobs.
The major grocery in Pittsburgh is the Giant Eagle and going for food is a very interesting trip. The entrance to the store is about 30 or so yards along the side of the store from the entrance and the only way out is the designated exit. No entry without a mask of some variety. 6 feet spacing on the sidewalk and store personnel walking around to enforce social distancing. Large chunks of foodstuffs missing off the shelves due to panic buying, including water bottles. Prices of everything are up at least 30% so far. As there is more and more unemployment and providers of meat slow down production, this will continue and get worse. As demand from kids school meals vanishes, Farmers are dumping milk into their fields as the cows need milking whether the product is sold or not. The income from milk is now less than the cost of producing it. This has the potential to destroy farming.
The CEO of Boeing Aircraft was interviewed yesterday and he opined that at least one, possibly two airlines were poised to enter Chapter 11 due to decreased number of passengers and increasing cost of fuel and airport costs. Delta is burning through fifty million dollars a day. There are several photos of passenger planes lined up, filling the entire runway at Pittsburgh International. The planes that are still flying are doing so with only a few passengers. They won’t do that for long at the current cost of fuel. So, not only are people not traveling anymore, the potential for carriers is progressively crashing. I was thinking I might want to go one more interesting place before I died. Delta told me to forget it unless I was prepared to pay an astronomical price for a seat 6 feet from the next guy.
The Washington Post detailed American workers filing 3 million new unemployment claims last week, bringing the eight-week total of coronavirus-induced layoffs to 36.5 million. This number will progressively increase as more and more businesses go under. The money men in government are sending out trillions of dollars here and there. No one knows where it’s coming from or exactly where it goes. The effective long range planning by central government officials can best be described as loose cannons rolling around the deck firing the odd shot here and there. The unemployed will start protesting their plight in larger and larger numbers resulting in ???? This is said to return when “things get better”. I think there is some evidence that once many of these industries die, the cost of resurrecting them would be prohibitive and they’ll stay dead. Society will then learn to live without them and that will be a very interesting life, indeed.
I’ve made it to nearly 77 years of age and I now count myself as exceptionally lucky to have lived in an era where I could do pretty much anything I wanted, go where I wanted and work in a career that worked very well for helping sick persons. I’m very glad I won’t have to live in the world being created right now as I sit here. I feel very sorry for those much younger than me that will have to figure out how to survive in it.
“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because
the only people who really know where it is are the ones
who have gone over it.”
―Hunter S. Thompson, “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga”