By David Glenn Cox
After the debacle of 2008 there were many with 20/20 hindsight. But this like something out of a cheesy science fiction movie, like the ones you saw at the drive-in. That’s the way it is in Sci-fi, undreamed of scenarios of disaster. No one dreamed of this thirty or forty years ago when we were dismantling our industrial base. The Neo-liberals and the financial whiz kids said it was going to be great! We can move everything to China…no environmental rules, no employee healthcare and best of all an industrial worker earns twenty dollars a week and we can sell it for the same price!
As the American cities crumbled financial speculation earned the economy more revenue than manufacturing. Industries blossomed to transport raw materials to China and finished goods to America. I was in Astoria; Oregon and they aired the shipping news on the radio. The ship’s name, where it’s going and what it’s carrying. The inbound were carrying Toyotas and the outbound were carrying lumber or coal.
The British Empire was built on manufactured goods. The Confederate’s were certain Great Britain would come in on their side…they couldn’t do without cotton! You take a bale of cotton for fifty bucks and turn it in to five hundred dollars in clothing. One of the first acts of the founding fathers was to place tariffs on manufactured goods. They feared England would swamp us in manufactured goods denying us the opportunity of building our own manufacturing base. A dearth of Foreign goods would bankrupt a young nation.
We look to the past with modern eyes and we fail to realize or remember. That pandemics are a constant, the Black Death which cleaved up to 40% of Europe eventually faded. Not because of a cure but because everyone that could die of the plague had died. My mother told me about Quarantines in the 1930’s. Officials would pin a color-coded notice on your door QUARANTINE – MEASLES or DIPTHERIA. Relatives would yell through the door for your medicine and food requests leaving them on the porch.
The Spanish Flu killed more people than World War 1. Society nearly stopped, telephone exchanges went unmanned and police almost ceased to exist. The flu generally attacks the young the old and the weak, but the Spanish flu was indiscriminate. Children were found playing on the floor while two young adult parents were found deceased in the bed. Orphan trains carried children west putting them on display for adoption at each railhead. Take two they’re small!
The corona virus is not nearly as lethal as the Spanish Flu but how many deaths should be considered the cost of doing business? This is a worldwide plague brought to you by worldwide Capitalism. The search for the cheapest labor and the loosest environmental laws has brought us to right here. As usual Capitalism is that guy at the bar crowing about payday and how much money he makes. But let somebody rear end his new Corvette he cries to the heavens. “How could this happen to me! You gotta help me!” Bloomberg reports the world’s Central Banks stand ready to offer bridge loans and short-term liquidity to business to help them weather the storm.
Excuse me please, but aren’t we forgetting someone? If millions of Americans are forced to stay at home for a week or two or up to a month how will they pay the rent or make the car payment? How will they buy food? You see that McDonald’s there on the corner? When the virus hits that line of cars will disappear. How long can you run an empty McDonalds without customers or staff? Wall Street has already determined that 2020 is a lost year for revenue. Optimistic at best the belief that the economy will return like flowers in the Spring. Like many of you, I was wiped out in 2008. The industry where I worked never came back it shrank and wasted away. Will they traverse Wall Street with death wagons calling, “Bring out your dead!”
They say that up to eighty percent of American families live paycheck to paycheck. What happens when there is no paycheck? When everyone from the fry cook to the architect is out of work. After not being able to pay bills or afford healthcare how will we put the train back on the tracks?
The market came back today but no it didn’t. You can’t kid a kidder it came roaring back because? Investors suddenly found a spine and said, Boy are we being silly or what? Or The plunge protection team went to work and began to buy back the market. Wise Wall Street Owls who see it as the time to buy. A time to ride that Socialist elevator back up to the top. But now if a man with more dollars than integrity in his pockets were to come along and fall upon such a timetable, they’d know when to catch the train.
The bull is wounded the bull is dying. The sugar tit’s about to run dry. The quarantine of China is built into our supply chain, chain, that’s ironic isn’t it? Those work hours were billable, and someone’s got to take the loss. In 1582, the pope changed the calendar to the one we use today. Because the old calendar was out of sink with the seasons. “In thy name of Christo, today is a March the 2nd and tomorrow she’s gonna be May the a nineteenth! How can you handle that scenario? Rent and school and work and everything. It couldn’t be done today the world would crash.
So dependent on the time is money and money is time dynamic. The world can no longer handle a sick day. The world can’t put the Genie back in the bottle.