If The “Only” Impact The Pandemic Had On Us Was More Of Us Telecommuting, The Ripple Effects Will Still Be Huge

That won’t be the case, of course though more of us are going to telecommute. Those of us that have jobs to return to, that is. More of us are going to shop from home. More of us are going to entertain ourselves and small groups of friends at home.

I just heard an interesting discussion on MSNBC. The almost always excellent Ali Velshi led a discussion on how the pandemic will impact work in America. The most obvious impact — that Ali himself was experiencing if only while the pandemic is raging — was working from home. The news networks adapted with remarkable speed to their situation on the ground. They got equipment and lighting to the homes of all their key hosts — green screens and monitors behind them so it looks like a news set. I’m sure everyone got brand-spanking-new computers with plenty of fire power.

Now that we’ve all learned how to broadcast from home — and seen that we can do it — and the audience has adapted to how it looks and sounds — why would anyone doing a TV appearance get in their car and drive to a TV studio when they can do it more easily from home. Or even their hotel room if they’re on the road.

All anyone has to do, really, is open their notebook computer. Or the app on their phone. Telecommuting will not be a small thing. Currently, half the American workforce — that’s 164 million people — are working from home. That 82 million people. If even 10 percent of those people never commuted to their job again (except for special occasions), that would be 8.2 million people.

That’s 8.2 million Americans who aren’t getting into their cars or onto public transportation to get to work anymore. That means less cars on the road (less pollution — good for the planet) and less demand on public transit (at rush hours). Fewer cars traveling all those miles means less gasoline will be needed — suppressing the demand for fossil fuels. Good ripple.

Fewer cars making fewer trips should also put less wear and tear on our roads and bridges. Good thing since we’re not sure how we’re going to repair them right now anyway.

Extrapolating out a bit — less demand for oil and gas will mean the fossil fuel business looks a little less scary to our legislators. Another good ripple.

Fewer commuters also put less wear & tear on worn out public transportation systems.

Fewer cars making all those trips also means fewer second cars needed. So, fewer cars bought. That’s millions of cars that aren’t being bought, financed, serviced or insured.

Ripple, ripple, ripple.

On the local level — not having to go to work except on rare occasion means needing a lot fewer work clothes that have to be bought but also dry cleaned. Not going to work also means having lunch at home — not at a restaurant or fast food place near the office. Lots of lost business for them, a little more found business for your local grocer and local restaurants.

Your power bills will go up. Will our employers help defray the costs of our telecommuting — helping to cover our connectivity (since the better that is, the better our work product will be)? Insurance companies will feel the loss in auto insurance revenues but perhaps they’ll make up for it increased coverages elsewhere based on new-fangled insurance products just “aching” to be invented.

With more people home, burglars will have to be way more careful. Crime patterns could be impacted.

If two working adults are home — what will that do to home life? What will it do to the distribution of labor at home? What will it do to child-rearing when one parent is pretty much home most of the time (unlike now when two working parents isn’t pretty much a necessity). Why, it’d be like living back in the 50’s except either mom OR dad could play June Cleaver.

All those people who created businesses tending to our lives while we’re at work — dog walkers and plant waterers and errand-runners — they’ll have to reinvent themselves yet again. Those gigs just went away, most of them.

The pandemic’s enduring impact on us won’t be fully felt or understood even for a long while yet. We’re just at the beginning, lucky us.

A lot of people will be more devastated by the pandemic’s ripple effects than by the pandemic itself. That’s even more cruel. You survive the sinking of the Titanic — ending up in a lifeboat — only to die of hypothermia. Some people can’t win for losing.

But, as with a lot of things, while one can see the pandemic as a huge obstacle to normalcy and living happily ever after, one can also see it as a huge opportunity. New businesses will have to be invented. New systems. New ways of thinking. New ways of working together while working remotely.

Some of the new inventions will take time to develop, test, market and manufacture — we’re talking years. Who has time like that when you’re trying to get rich? But that’s how we should frame the future: as an opportunity just waiting to be exploited (in a good way).

If I’m Coronavirus, Donald Trump Is The Best POTUS Evah!

Think of this pandemic from the coronavirus’ point of view. It has one, ya know.

Coronaviruses have been around — infecting humans — for at least 10,000 years. Possibly longer. Ironically, most life on earth may have started out with viruses — simple strands of RNA that, eventually, evolved into us — an incredibly complex, DNA-based organism susceptible to something as simple as a virus.

On the one hand, viruses aren’t exactly “alive” as we humans define it. But then, humans always see things from our limited point of view and assume that’s all there is to see. We see and hear limited light and sound spectra while lots of other light and sound pinballs all around us regardless of how oblivious we are to them. Viruses may not be “alive”, but they have a very specific purpose “in mind”. They don’t exist simply to “be here”, they have an imperative — a purpose that drives them. They need to reproduce.

But, in order to reproduce, viruses need a host. They need some other creature’s DNA. They need to sneak in to their host completely uninvited. Not wanted, in fact.

Once inside, their goal is to make as many copies of themselves inside your cells as they can. They don’t care if they kill you because they can still spread via your dying tissue and ooze. You, the host may die, but the virus will not. It will simply live on in your festering, rotting remains. Viruses are like zombies — brainless and yet single-mindedly driven to turn you into them.

If ever a human being bore all the qualities of a virus, it’s Donald Trump. As former Republican Rick Wilson so aptly put it in his book title — Everything Trump Touches Dies. Trump invades space like a virus. He needs to turn any space he walks into into a celebration of him. He’s remarkably adept at adapting. That’s the advantage to always lying about everything. You can switch directions on a dime without fear of people calling you a hypocrite. Of COURSE you’re a hypocrite. It’s not even worth mentioning anymore!

The moment the press accepted “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing”, we were well and truly infected. Trumpism took out most of the press and it took out the entire Republican Party. Looking back now, all those Republicans running to Trump are a lot like Stay-at-home protestors. They’re incredibly cynical and lot of them are more infected than they know. Worse, they’re spreaders — spreading it to their own.

If I put myself inside a coronavirus’ perspective — I look at those Trump-loving protestors in their protesting clumps with a smile that never quits. It’s not just proximity that’s a problem but duration. Spend a few moments in the presence of an infected person — you may get away with it (so long as you didn’t inhale any of their droplets). Spend an hour in an infected person’s presence — in a confined space — and you’re playing Russian Roulette with a gun with one chamber in it. And the chamber’s loaded.

The reason so many health care front-liners are getting hit and getting hit hard is because in addition to the proximity that allows coronavirus access to them and their bodies, there’s the size of the viral load hitting the front-liners. It’s massive and sometimes relentless. It’s like water pouring into a boat. You can bail and keep the boat from sinking. But if the water coming in is more than the water going out, you won’t keep the boat from sinking for very long.

If I’m a coronavirus, I look at China’s initial reaction (lying about me) with glee. But I look at what Donald Trump did with outright delirium. That’s how happy Donald Trump makes me. China eventually got its shit together and locked its citizens down in a way America couldn’t ever. A third of Americans don’t “do” selfless. They need their haircuts and bars. They need everyone else to know that we’re not the boss of them. If they want to get sick from a pandemic-strength pathogen, that’s their business, not ours.

If WE get sick though, because THEY infected us?

Sounds kinda “viral” in its thinking, no?

Looming Lessons From A Pandemic — Money Won’t Save You; Community However Will

It’s definitely premature to say “here’s what we’ve learned from living through a pandemic…”. But a few lessons are already crystal clear. They’ll only get crystal clearer.

For starters: in a real crisis — like a pandemic — the flow of accurate information is essential. Screw with that? You just made the pandemic exponentially worse. People can’t judge how best to protect themselves, their families and their communities when the information coming at them is bogus or worse. It’s like we’re all trapped inside a building that’s on fire. One exit leads to safety. The other doesn’t — and our current leaders keep insisting that 1) there’s no fire but 2) if there is, run to toward that “other” door — the one that leads AWAY from safety.

Government should not be some foreign, faceless nemesis. In essence, it’s US. We are our own government — that’s the whole point of democracy. It has been a deeply cynical right wing talking point that government is to blame for all our ills. No, actually, GREED is to blame for most of our ills. Ignorance, racism, bigotry and (especially) misogyny account for the rest.

As the coronavirus keeps proving to us, pathogens couldn’t care less how famous we are, how rich we are, how special we are. Viruses need human cells in order to reproduce. They use us like a cheap sex hotel — only to take over the whole hotel once they start having sex in it. Throwing money at it won’t stop it.

Ironically — community will stop it. Provided we keep our distance from our community for a while. But the point of the exercise is to keep the community safe — which means we have to acknowledge that our community is automatically more important than any one individual in it. That’s an important distinction to make — especially going forward.

The Pandemic of 2020 has brought the human world to a virtual stand-still. Our economies — tied together as they are — are about to experience something unprecedented. We’re about to become cash-starved as our incomes stop while our expenses don’t. To survive this — we’re going to have to look each other in the eye and say “people matter more than money does”.

Because Trump’s crony-capitalism has gutted so much of the government we built to protect us — or, at least, create a structured framework in which we can work — we’ll HAVE TO rely on ourselves to survive this. We won’t be able to do what China did — live in our homes like prison cells until we’re told we can go out again. It’s just not in our nature. But — as China is proving — it’s the only way to stop Kovid-19 from spreading.

And until we stop the coronavirus from spreading, we can’t do anything to stop it. Good thing China’s now offering test kits. We need em.

The other Big Lesson we should already be taking from Pandemic 2020 — a for-profit health “care” system will fail everyone using it. Because not everyone can afford to be in the system, a huge chunk of us are unhealthy. Pathogens fly past expensive walls. A pathogen that takes root in a homeless encampment on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles can take out whole blocks of rich Beverly Hills residents just like “that”.

We don’t, at present, have a health CARE system, we have a health INSURANCE system. Not the same thing. When anyone walks in the door, our system’s first question isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”

There’s a reason no other industrialized country does it our way: it’s stupid. It’s inhumane. And, in the face of a pandemic — it’s actually self-destructive.

Humans will see the Pandemic of 2020 as one of those epic events that took over the planet — like a world war. Ironically, the pandemic will have to share space with the OTHER epic event taking over our planet right now — the successful cyber war Russia has waged and still IS waging against America.

The reason the Pandemic of 2020 will be so extraordinarily terrible for the United States is because Donald Trump is president. And Donald Trump is president because Vladimir Putin MADE him president.

Just like in HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” — where a humble pathogen takes out the Martians that none of earth’s armies can put a dent in — a germ (okay — a virus) will take down the monster — in our case, Donald Trump. Covid-19 will do what the Truth could not.

Here’s a prediction — and it’s based on the lessons the Pandemic has already taught us — in the Pandemic’s aftermath, America will head to the left. Health care in America will come socialized — made a fact of life by the pandemic. To pay for that health care, Americans will have to rethink their taxes — how much they pay, yes, but more importantly, how much they GET for their taxes.

Social democracy is coming to America — riding on the back of the coronavirus. The rich won’t like it much — until they realize how, when all boats rise on the tide, theirs rises even higher. The rest of us? Well, our boats will be rising on the tide, right? That tide is our community. The one that’s always been there for us.

The one we’ll need to be there for us now.