Here’s the deal, I’m not an Economist. I’m not a Sociologist. I’m not even THAT smart. But I have a very strong feeling that shit is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
What I’m about to say isn’t based on years of research. It’s just based on my observations of history and our economic situation over the 40 or so years I’ve been around.
First of all, I want to say that I KNEW the CDC was withholding information long before it came out that our Reality-TV-Star-In-Chief was ordering them to withhold information. I knew that whatever numbers they were reporting, the actual numbers were much worse. It was in their best interest to “prevent panic” by downplaying the risks. The great irony, of course, is that by attempting to prevent panic, they made the situation much, much worse.
I have also been saying for YEARS that we are going to face major social upheaval in the country, the likes of which we have not seen before. I believe that the only reason the people haven’t truly risen up before now is because most of us can’t afford to. The best way to keep a population compliant is to keep them barely paid (check), barely fed (check), barely educated (check), and barely healthy (check). We have a massive and growing population living at or near the poverty line BY DESIGN. This isn’t a mistake. This is absolutely how the powers that be want it. And they have won. I realize the statistics don’t point to a majority of our country being under paid, fed, educated, and cared for, but the numbers are still remarkably high for a country that claims to be the one of the richest nations in the world and a global super power. These are shameful numbers, and, I believe numbers high enough to cause unrest. Though, again, I’m no expert.
When people are hungry, tired, sick, and barely getting by, they can’t afford to protest. Sweeping change in this country (and throughout the world) has ALWAYS been made on the backs of the poorest people. Whether it has been by slave labor, or by the cavalier attitude that the poor will continue to keep their heads down and do the work no matter what. A single parent working three jobs and deciding which bills to not pay so they can feed their family doesn’t have the luxury of walking off the job to storm the castle. She has to keep working.
When we see massive social unrest in other parts of the world (like the Arab Spring, for example), it happens when the majority of the population doesn’t have anything left to lose.
The reason Occupy Wall Street didn’t work was because the people occupying Wall Street couldn’t afford to live in tents for weeks on end. The brokers still went to work, and people still poured their money into the markets. More importantly, the legions of working poor who cleaned the toilets of the assholes at top couldn’t afford to just stop going to work.
Even without this pandemic (which, to be clear, in case I haven’t been already, it’s not the virus that’s the problem, it’s the massive economic toll the fallout is going to create) we were already facing a massive housing crisis (which we already have), when this generation of gig economy hustlers “retires” with no pension, social security, healthcare, or proper savings. I don’t know what people are expecting. We’re like a country of ostriches with our heads in the sand. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN MILLIONS OF PEOPLE GET OLD AND HAVE NO SAFETY NET? You think the homeless situation is bad now? Just wait. When our streets are lined with senior citizens with nowhere to go, then we’re going to be in some serious shit.
If we even get there.
So, here’s what’s going to happen: The government is going to toss us some pennies to keep us momentarily sated. Then, when the virus passes and the dust settles, they’re going to pump “stimulus money” (our tax dollars) into the airline, health insurance, and oil industries. Once again, just like they did with the banks in 2009, they are going to bail out the least in-need. They are going to line the pockets of the richest men in this country. MEANWHILE, potentially millions of working poor will have lost their jobs and/or significant income. THEN we will see massive and sweeping riots across this country. Once people have nothing left to lose, once their jobs won’t be on the line because they have lost those jobs, then we will see the pitchforks coming out. And it’s not going to be pretty.
I won’t lie, I have been hoping for a moment like this for many, many years. I am a big consumer of post-apocalyptic fiction. I believe that our need for STUFF is unsustainable. We don’t need tomatoes in the winter. We don’t need the newest Iphone delivered same-day. Especially when those things come at the cost of real human lives. It would behoove us, the population of the planet, and the “environment” to return to localized economies.
But now that the moment seems very likely at hand, I am not holding my breath with anticipation. This is not fun or exciting. I believe it is necessary, but it’s going to cost a lot of lives and it’s not going to be pretty.
I suppose I imagined that when this moment came, I would have a house on land with a water source. I imagined that I could hole up with my family, house some friends and family, and keep the rest away with barbed wire and a shotgun. But I don’t have a house, or land, or a water source. Or a shotgun, for that matter. I live at the mercy of a large property management company. I can not grow my own food. If I turn on my faucet and clean water doesn’t come out, I have maybe a week’s worth of water stored in the cupboard. If I’m forced to run, I won’t make it very far. I have always said that in the Zombie apocalypse I’ll be one of the first ones to volunteer to be shot in the head and left behind. I know what it would take to survive on the road without shelter, and I’m not designed for it.
I hope to goodness I’m wrong. I hope I’m being a paranoid alarmist. I don’t think I am. I have tended to be quietly right about this shit. It doesn’t take an economics degree to understand it. All you have to do is look at history. Hell, look at the past two decades of world history. You don’t need to go back to the time of The Spanish Flu or The Plague. Look at the countries that have squandered their economies on the wealthiest people, overlooked the majority of their citizens, rolled back rights, denied access to proper housing, food, education, and healthcare that have collapsed under massive social upheaval in the past few decades.
We will survive this. As a people. But we’re going to have to take a long, hard look at how we live and agree together to make some pretty serious changes.
Until then, let’s all send out thoughts and prayers to The White House. May everyone inside it come down with the Coronavirus. Except for the people who take out the garbage and clean the toilets.