90 Miles From Tyranny : Five Quick Things: Apocalypse More Or Less Now

Friday, April 3, 2020

Five Quick Things: Apocalypse More Or Less Now

The shutdown can’t continue. 

I was going to make this Five Quick Things legitimately quick, but I failed. I’d say I’m sorry, but you know I’m not. Besides, there’s a lot going on and a lot that ought to be said.

So let’s get down to business.

1. This shutdown can’t continue. At some point it’s going to have to stop, and we’re going to have to go back to work.

The $22 trillion U.S. economy is the single greatest achievement in human history, but it’s more than that — it is the primary engine of human progress that has dragged the population of Planet Earth out of misery and want.

If that economy is destroyed by a viral plague emanating out of either a bioweapons lab or a barbaric farm-to-table “wet market” serving bats, pangolins, civet cats, and other exotic animals more fit for a Netflix series than local culinary experimentation, it will literally be the largest own-goal of civilization since the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s overreaction to that unpleasantness in Belgrade.

Part of the responsibility is ours, though you aren’t wrong if you assign most of it to China (more on that below). As Steve Skinner so aptly described it last weekend within these pages, we are massively overreacting to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

And there are real consequences to this. In two weeks, 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. There are undoubtedly more to come, if for no other reason than that state unemployment offices are begging filers to fill out their forms online because they can’t process the current volume over the phones. In another two weeks the number will be 20 million if it isn’t more.

It’s worse than that. We’re losing businesses, significant businesses, and we’re going to lose more. Logan’s Roadhouse, the restaurant chain, just closed 260 units and let all their employees go. They’re finished. It’s only a matter of weeks before every department store in the country is gone, which will take down every shopping mall in America. The big-retail industry might have been on its last legs, but this will clearly finish it off. Oil and gas had problems owing to the predations of the Saudis and Russians before this mess began; now, people in the industry are talking about the carnage $8-per-barrel oil will do to domestic production. The construction industry is all but finished at the moment, and people in that industry are worried that with all the wealth this shutdown has destroyed, whether or not there will be enough capital to resume work and fund new projects.

The restaurant industry employs 14 million Americans, more than any other industry. Or, rather, employed 14 million Americans — because it certainly doesn’t employ that many anymore. And Logan’s Roadhouse isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, of the restaurant chains, much less mom and pop establishments, that die off as a result of the shutdown.

Hotels, airlines, car washes, barber shops, nail salons, florists, gyms … the economic carnage of shutting down an entire country for two months is incalculable.

The New York Stock Exchange lost, per an Investor’s Business Daily story dated March 12, some $7.3 trillion from Feb. 19 to March 11. Things got worse from there, though stock indexes have generally rebounded and are hovering close to where they were on that date.

If you simply divide the $7 trillion by the number of Wuhan coronavirus deaths in the United States so far, 6,075 as of this writing, you come to more than a billion dollars per death just in the loss of wealth from stock prices. The real economic loss doesn’t come from shares trading lower — it’s far more human. It’s the loss of a job, of a livelihood, of a dream.

That number will certainly come down as the virus takes its toll. But the loss from the shutdown is more than just money. It’s the loss of our national spirit, of our capabilities, and, as noted in this space a couple of columns ago, it’s the loss of lives as well. You cannot turn all of America into the ghetto, the barrio, or the dead Appalachian town without suffering loss of life. Poverty and hopelessness are debilitating, dangerous things, and they must be stamped out — not chosen.
It’s clear President Trump understands this, whether or not those around him do. Soon Trump is going to have to step up and make a call in favor of the American people and lead us out of our self-inflicted national misery. If he doesn’t, the cure will surely be worse than the disease.

2. Shaddap, LaToya.

We’ll be very quick about this one, because it’s stupid enough not to deserve even this much notice.

But New Orleans’ mayor, LaToya Cantrell, a bona fide mouth-breathing moron who heretofore had as her primary claim to fame the distinction of being the only mayor in America willing to allow a moldering corpse to remain uncollected more or less in public view on a major city street for months, has been enjoying her 15 minutes of fame on the two usual-suspect poisonous cable news outlets for bashing Trump over not ordering her to shut down the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations.

Mardi Gras fell on Feb. 25 of this year. New Orleans has since seen a significant spike in Wuhan virus cases; the city proper has well more than 3,000 known cases and an official death count of 125 as of this writing. It’s said the nightly gatherings of revelers during that carnival season were a super-spreader event turning the Big Easy into the Big Sneezy. Cantrell took it on herself to dismantle the ubiquitous “tandem floats” this year after a pair of idiots managed to get themselves run over during parades, something she did without Trump’s help. Why she thinks playing Monday Morning Quarterback about shutting Mardi Gras down now is useful is explainable only by the usual analysis the reader doesn’t need me to spell out.

But the whole discussion is absurd. The first known coronavirus case in Louisiana came on March 9, two weeks after Mardi Gras. Anecdotally, people in that city had been complaining of a respiratory “crud” with symptoms quite similar to coronavirus for two or three months before then. Nobody identified it; all they knew was they were testing negative for the flu. To shut Mardi Gras down in mid-February would have been more or less unthinkable.

New Orleans doesn’t have much industry left. Idiot politicians like Cantrell, and the stupid policies they bring with them, have run off everything but tourism and hospitality. Take Mardi Gras away from that city and it’s a cross between Detroit and Mogadishu. Cantrell would be better off realizing that the timing was a rough break and quit trying to act like that clown mayor of San Juan after the hurricane.

3. Don’t blindly trust those death-toll numbers.

Thursday, Brit Hume got himself in a bit of trouble on Twitter when he shared a tweet analyzing the Wuhan coronavirus death-toll numbers based on the number of deaths of people who suffered from...

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