Thursday, May 7, 2020

Coronavirus Impact

How long are you willing to stay at home and socially distance from other people? Currently we don't have a vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus. We may have a vaccine in a year or two. It could take longer. Much longer.

Or as with some viruses, we may never find a vaccine. COVID-19 could just be part of the new reality going forward from 2020.
Apparently we don't even have an agreed upon regimen for treatment. There are some factors which seem to make you more likely to contract or die from the virus but at the same time most people who get it survive it. Are you willing to take that risk and return to your normal daily procedures? I am working from home and have been doing so for about the past six weeks. 

I just learned that one of my co-workers has been out with COVID-19 for the past three weeks. He didn't have the same capacity to work from home that I have. He was often in the office. He almost died. So it's a good thing that I wasn't in the same places he was.

I won't want to return to the office until I have more confidence that co-workers are not sick and that the office is safe. I don't have that confidence now. But although I am fortunate enough to be able to perform my job from home, the ugly fact is that unless the general population can freely move around, my company can't sell its primary product to the public in the numbers needed to be profitable. 

And that means that sooner or later, (probably sooner) my company will make cutbacks to my department. Fewer sales means less need for employees. 

For example, my company is terminating a department which works closely with mine. Some people in that department will still have jobs. Many, however, won't.

I don't think all these folks will quickly find equivalent positions in an environment where aggregate demand is dying and unemployment has reached Great Depression levels.

So from a purely economic selfish point of view I'd like to see all this COVID-19 stuff go poof and vanish. But that won't happen anytime soon.

Are you willing to wear masks and gloves every time you leave your home? Would you accept a national or state test registry that allows you certain travel rights depending on your antibody status? Will you ever be comfortable eating at restaurants or taking public transport again? Will you accept permanent monitoring and intervention by state agents to ensure social distancing?

Again, words can't express how angry I am at the person or persons in China who via deficient cultural or hygienic practices allowed this virus to jump from bats or pangolins or from some animal yet unknown to humans and spread. And Trump's incompetence and indifference made a bad situation worse. 

Everything is changing. 

For people who are well off, retired or who were already working from home the financial hit from this pandemic might be something they can tolerate. For everyone else though the economic results are body blows. They will be long lasting.

I don't think we'll get back to "normal" for quite some time. Things are going to be very different. We've got to find some way of mitigating the impact of the virus while not destroying American employment. I haven't heard anyone talk about that. I don't think outsourcing and globalization will be as easy sells to the public as they once were. On the other hand few people want "limited government" during a pandemic. We're living in very strange times.
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