This morning I listened to a horror story on BBC as their financial program gathered stories from correspondents across the EU describing how life has been affected. They described the difficulties people and businesses are facing and will face in the coming months. It was mentioned that airlines are only weeks away from bankruptcy. Will airlines survive? Without airlines can airports, the airlines essential partner, survive? What will be the impact on the railroad industry and trucking? Transportation infrastructure is essential for the movement of people and goods, but during this period of restricted movement it is the transportation of goods that is most essential. While we lockdown in place we must still be able to buy food and essential products at the grocery and home supply stores.
People in many industries are already being laid off. Bars and restaurants are the most common example, and as airlines reduce scheduling by around 80% the retail stores in airports will be shutting down and laying off employees. How will those suddenly without jobs afford their rents and mortgages? Bankruptcies of both people and businesses will not be far behind. How will the banking industry withstand the onslaught of bankruptcies?
Some businesses are being compassionate at the moment. The Boston Celtics, the local basketball team, has announced that employees will continue to be paid through the end of the season, but the people who man the food and concession stands at the Boston Garden (the arena is called the Garden) are not employees of the Celtics.
I could go on, but I'll stop. Is this a worst case scenario? I don't know. It is the scenario I imagined but only alluded to in my Message 5319, written about a week ago just after the WHO declared a world pandemic. This is quickly sprinting past just a major health concern to become a world wide economic disaster affecting life very severely in the short term and very significantly for years to come in the longer term.
It is appropriate to ask whether this lockdown is worse than the resulting economic disaster. What if government, instead of a lockdown, put its full force and power behind the production and distribution of masks, gloves and effective sanitizer? Would that approach cause ten thousand more deaths? A hundred thousand? A million? More? Would an overburdened health industry result in even more deaths of people unaffected by the coronavirus but unable to obtain the necessary care? And on the other hand, how many deaths will economic depression for years cause?
I don't have the answers, but I do hope that those at all levels of government and business who are not up to the demands of this crisis move aside to allow the most competent, the experts, to handle things.
How long will this last? I don't know, but Major League Baseball is talking about a June resumption. I hope that's not optimistic.
This is the same sort of thing I'm worried about.
Let's say some large place (city? state? country?) goes into "lockdown" successfully. Let's say that lockdown lasted... 2 months? 3? It was "successful" because something like 'no known cases of the virus came up in the last few weeks' or something like that.
Re-open the borders? Allow all the people to mingle and travel all over again as before?
What if the virus starts spreading again and more cases come up in the same 'large place?'
Does it shut down for another 2-3 months? Will this cycle continue? For years? Decades? Forever?
I suppose the only solution is to "move forward" with such worries in mind and deal with them as they come up. 2020 will be an interesting year we've (human population across earth) been forced into. Hopefully we're able to adapt as quickly as possible.
Our brilliant Lt Gov wants to end social separation and let everybody just get back to work.
I do not have the answer - but saying this is not part of the solution is just as silly as saying the government should shut everything down for months-on-end.
The government certainly can "shut everything down." But they cannot control people.
Those who rent will likely get hit hardest, first. These people are also likely to already be living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Remove that paycheck, and what do you have? A very large portion of people relying on social systems from the government to get money to cover expenses to feed their families.
Have you ever heard of a large scale government system that worked well? What about one that's being forced to kick it into high gear in a matter of days? The logistics for being able to help all those who need it as required - is not going to work out.
Projects have the "shutdown" lasting until when - end of summer? 4-5 months from now? Then what? Everyone comes back out and the virus begins to spread again anyway?
Economic projections say the population can only "hold on" under a shutdown for 1-2 months max. Then people will be starving and unable to get money to feed their families.
What's worse? Dying of the virus or dying from no food?
Again - I'm not saying I have an answer (it's very complicated.) But to imply that an extended shutdown will solve everything is just as silly as this guy saying everyone going to back to work right now will fix everything. There needs to be some practical analysis and some give-and-take on both sides of the issue. Both sides end in deaths-that-can-be-prevented. But the prevention methods for one side make the other worse (and vice versa.) So... what to do?
Some sort of compromise has to happen. The economy has to function at some level. While their also has to be some level of gathering-restrictions.
But "extended total shutdown" isn't going to work. Just as much as "no gathering restrictions at all."